First things first, as you know the bloggers at SBNation did a Euro Bracket Challenge. Oddly enough I won, which I find ironically hilarious becuase so many fans spend a lot time telling me I know nothing about football in the comments! Oh the irony. The reason I won: I believed in Portgual and Greece and felt like Holland is the single most overrated team of individuals of all time. But more on that below as we address some things to take away from this stellar Euro competition.
I have been witness now to six European Championships in which I truly vested myself. This ranks second only to 2000. Yes Italy lost that one as well, but the matches here were equally exciting and the only difference was that I felt the level of play in 2000 was stellar. 2012 was excellent as well, but some matches went to predictably to make a big case. Either way what a month of football as we gear back into the Club that binds us for better or worse.
It would appear both he and the FIGC are on the same page with their future. Prandelli will stay on through the WC, which is all well and good for me, if he learns from his mistakes. Why a Coach would believe his own media driven hype and think he can out possess Spain is beyond me. He got it all right in the first match, add an extra body in the midfield, defend with tactical coverage and intelligence, and bite on the counter. So many fans didn't even see the value of what Italy did against Spain the first time around, this second match proved it was defense that dominated then. At the end of the day there is no trophy for trying to play pretty football, their is only a trophy for winning, and the fact of the matter is that sometimes winning involves rolling up your sleeves and doing the dirty work required to win. No one will remember it wasn't pretty, they will only remeber you won, and until you learn that Mr. Prandelli you will only be average.
Red, Black and Blue
The Milan contingent in the National setup showed quite well, and a sign of things to come for the season. Cassano looks back, though still not fully match fit, more time should heal that wound. Montolivo proved excellent all tournament, keeping it simple and linking play, two functions crucial to the Milan system. Abate struggled a bit in the final but with Barzagli having a howler it is tough to look good next to that bum. Nocerino scored his crucial PK and for that we thank him!
I really thought this was the tournament that awakened this monster and finally put him on the International stage, it didn't happen and partially it is his fault. If it is true he wanted to the last PK and demanded it, he made a crucial error. Your best player must be assured a chance to kick, your best player goes FIRST! If he goes first and buries it, he may bury Spain with it and today's conversation would be that much different, oh well.
Immensly talented team but for those fans who pine for youth, let it be a lesson. Sometimes wiley guile is the key to winning crucial matches over exuberant youth. Mark my words, Germany will have their day, or two even, but they won't do it at this age, they need to mature.
Holland v England
I know they didn't play each other, but I am drawing a parellel here. One team is immensly talented from top to bottom while the other is fairly average. One team went through, one didn't, reason? Well it is simple a collection of stars is merely a collection of stars, while an average group of players forms a team and wins. Football matches are won and lost as a collective, often times following a match it is easy to place blame on a CB who plays terribly, but at the end of the day the fault goes top to bottom and Holland should take that as a lesson. More importantly no matter how many goals KJH scores in soft leagues, a bum is always a bum! Had to get that last bit in there, and I apologize to those who love traffic cones.
While Pirlo was easily the most overrated player of this tournament, Cesc Fabergas was the most underrated. With a player like Pirlo you often live and often die, as Milan showed time and time again. He still needs protection in the form of hard running midfielders, and if he isn't given time to find the long ball his team looks sadly disjointed. While many wanted to heap praise on him, those who knew and loved Pirlo long before can honestly say his days are most likely passing. Cesc on the other hand grew up before our very eyes, playing as a false nine he ws crucial in Spain's matches and has become the sort of player that would make Milan a force if Allegri could slot him in behind the strikers. While Xavi was busy rendering Pirlo useless, it was Cesc who filled that space and made it his, masterstroke by Spain and a great tournament for the future Spanish Captain.
I end with this simply because first and foremost they deserve some credit. Let's be honest here they thrashed Italy, more imporantantly they outplayed and out witted team who though they could attack Spain and surivive, fools. Spain is king of passing football, and to beat them you must not pass the ball more then them, you must disrupt their passing. Crowd the midfield, press the ball and hope for the best. Italy couldn't do what they did in the first game or even match what Portugal did the game prior. Credit to Spain for really putting Italy to the sword and giving possesion football another day in the sun. Just a reminder though, every dynasty has an end, don't forget that.