bill-swift - July 7, 2012
There was a moment during last Sunday's European Championships final when the whole of the footballing community seemed to take a gigantic sigh and finally admit that they were watching something special.
Spain were knocking the ball around so sumptuously that it was beginning to feel like a farce, even though the Italian side they were facing had been depleted to ten minute due to injury. Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Silva were playing a brand of football that hadn't been seen for years and with this 4-0 victory over Italy, they won their third national trophy in a row on the back of their Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 triumphs.
But, with these successes have come many questions. Have Vincente Del Bosque's men changed football forever by not playing a recognised centre forward? Is their possession based football boring or entertaining? And where do they rank alongside the other great international teams? I've decided to tackle the latter.
Spain 2008-2012 - It's impossible not to feel like this side are the greatest football team ever assembled. On the back of Barcelona's dominance of the European game at club level, Luis Aragones and now Del Bosque have replicated their displays by adjusting the national team to match them. And sides from around the world haven't been able to compete with them since. By winning 3 trophies in a row they are now recognised at the greatest European team ever but the way the play football means that they are doing it in the right fashion too.
Brazil 1958 - The 1970 Brazil team is often seen as the pinnacle of the nations footballing endeavours. But the 1958 side was actually man-for-man better, with the side playing in a new formation that saw their attacking full-backs and wingers attacking in flourishes that left opposition defenders clueless. Garrincha was at the height of his powers on the wing and a 17 year-old Pele was about to take the world by storm too. This victory was all the more remarkable as it occurred in the cold climate of Sweden and would kick-start the Brazilian sides dominance of the World Cup for the next 12 years.
Germany 1972 - 76 - Winning a European Championship and a World Cup before being defeated in the 1976 Euro finals on penalties shows how impressive this German side was. Franz Beckenbauer dictated play from his sweeper position and Gerd Muller scored with seemingly every touch that he had. As with the current Spanish side, they were based around the hugely successful Bayern Munich side of the early to mid 70s who won three European Cups in a row and were as efficient and deadly as you would expect a German side to be.
Brazil 1970 - Probably the most recognised team ever assembled. Gerson, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto, Pele and the boys played a sumptuous style of football during the summer of 1970 that saw them handed the Jules Rimet trophy for good after defeating Italy 4-1 in the final. In each of their games they attacked in style and Pele's reputation was cemented because of two misses, one from the half way line and the other after bamboozling the keeper. Imagine what he would have been like if he'd scored them?
The greatest? The current Spanish team. Why? Because they've only just begun.
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