When Italy triumphed in World Cup 2006 many onlookers wondered whether this would mark a prolonged period of superiority for The Azzurri. But the new Spanish generation had other ideas. Vincente del Bosque took over and created an empire using youngsters who were determined to end Spain’s international jinx.
Come Euro 2008, they simply decimated every opponent they faced. Xavi and Iniesta were finding a metronomic rhythm and Fernando Torres was in red-hot form. Spain cruised into the semifinals as Italy were left to ponder what had gone wrong.
In the final, the two current football superpowers, Spain and Germany collided. Germany proved hot but El Nino Torres proved even hotter. His 33rd minute goal proved decisive as Spain went on to record a deserved victory.
Spain’s international form also permeated the club scene. Barcelona appointed Pep Guardiola and they didn’t look back. They went on to become the only side to lift all 6 major trophies in a calender year.
Then came World Cup 2010 and Spain’s chance to show that they were the real deal and take their first world title. They started as favorites only to be beaten by Switzerland in the very first match.
Nevertheless, Spain recovered and improved steadily. In the semi finals, Germany once again stood in their way. But Spain dominated and a 73rd minute header by the phenomenal Carles Puyol ended German hopes. In the finals, Iniesta’s famed killer goal finally ended their agony as they reached the promised land of World Cup glory.
Come EURO 2012 Spain and Germany again seemed destined to meet in the final showdown. But a Mario Balotelli inspired Italy caused an upset by beating Germany. Italy’s fun ended there however, as they were battered 4-0 in the final, by the imperious Spaniards. Spain were arguably becoming the greatest international football team in history.
But since then Barcelona have dropped off the pace in Europe and all the plaudits are currently going to Germany, who had 2 finalists in The Champions League this season. Does this represent a changing of the guard? Germany will certainly provide the stiffest of challenges to Spain’s dominance over the next couple of years.
With a huge depth of talent in the squad the future seems safe in the hands of Gotze, Reus, Hummels, Kroos, Neuer, Ozil and Khedira.
So, can the seemingly waning Spaniards once more rise to the challenge and become the greatest international team of all time, by winning back to back World Cups to add to their successive EURO Championship medals?
The next season of club football should deliver crucial portents as to who will carry the tag of favourites, alongside Brazil, to the World Cup 2014.
Written by Ajeesh J.