As the game proceeded towards the stoppage time, more than the defending champions, the Azzurri were desperate to hear the final whistle. They were on their haunches and barely managed to stand as the ever dominating Iberians - Spain, the deserving Euro Cup champions defended their title in supreme fashion.
The final blow of the whistle brought tears of joy for the Spanish outfit and probably relief for the Italians. The defending champions rewrote history by becoming the only team to defend a Euro Cup title. La Furia Roja
became the first team to win three consecutive major international titles, adding Euro 2012 to their World Cup 2010 and Euro 2008 championships.
What was expected to be an intriguing encounter proved to be a totally one-sided affair for Italy as Spain, who were seeking their third European Championship, ruthlessly demolished their opponents with a humiliating 4-0 defeat.
A feat, which only the German team had managed to achieve in the past.
Italy weren’t the favourites to win the tournament, but a lot changed since their victory over the Germans in the semi-final. ‘Super Mario’ Balotelli played sensational football that dismantled the three-time Euro Champs and all of a sudden, the level of expectations rose to a much higher degree from Cesare Prandelli and his boys.
But it was heartbreak for the Italian supporters as neither Balotelli nor Pirlo could make an impression as the Spaniards attacked from the word ‘Go’. Balotelli made the same mistake which Ronaldo did against Spain in the 1st semi-final. After his stellar role in the 2nd semi-final against Germany, all eyes were on the 21-year-old controversial Manchester City striker, who tried to create opportunities out of nothing and couldn’t capitalise on the chances that came his way. His attempt to score a goal from 25 yards in the 38th minute went in vain as he didn’t create better scoring opportunities for his teammates in the game.
Spain carried the burden of playing boring football for most part of the tournament with their ‘false nine’ strategy. But they took everyone by surprise in the historic final. It looked as if all the eleven men on the field were determined to show that they were the deserving champs since they could accelerate their game when it mattered the most. From ‘tiki-taka’ football, their midfielders showed immense aggression, whereas the likes of Balotelli, Pirlo and Cassano couldn’t even target the goal from a scoring position.
After the final match one may wonder whether the 65,000 thousand fans that gathered at the Olympic stadium in Kiev along with millions of viewers would have experienced a thrilling grand finale had the Germans made it to the final. No one can take the credit away from Spain, who probably are on their journey towards becoming the greatest team of all times with their consistent dominance at the international level by clinching back-to-back titles.
First Published: 7/7/2012 10:11:21 PM