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Back to… Spain – Italy 2012: the peak of “tiki-taka”

The World According to Olympik / Newspix / Icon Sport

International football has never seen such domination. This 1is July 2012, in Kiev, Spain outscored Italy (4-0) in a one-way final. Since the click of 2008, where she became European champion again after an interminable shortage of four decades, La Roja has been invincible. World champion two years later, it became the first team to retain its title of European champion.

In 2012, Spain steps on the competition and reaches, on the occasion of this Euro, the climax of its so particular style, admired by some, hated by others. This possession game is called “tiki-taka”. It was designed in Catalonia, perfected by Pep Guardiola and successfully resumed in the national team despite the historic rivalry between the Madrilenians and the Barcelonians. The “tiki-taka” is like the catenaccio 1950s Italian or 1970s Dutch total football: a revolution.

This style is first based on redoubling short passes. The Vicente del Bosque players achieved an incredible average of 750 assists per game during this Euro. But the “tiki-taka” is also based on permanent movement and the search for intervals. Consequently, in addition to the precise technique required, it gives its full measure only associated with an irreproachable physical condition. The statistics of the final are evocative: while they have the advantage of possession of the ball, the Spanish also ran more, 108.6 km against 102.8 km to the Italians.

Read also Football: is the (delicate) art of “catenaccio” in danger of extinction?

The second Spanish goal in the most unilateral final in the history of the Euro expresses this requirement of the head and legs. Barça side Jordi Alba rushes down his left lane like a winger, taking on all of the opposing defense of speed, to receive the offering of the metronome Xavi (2-0, 41e). A few minutes earlier, the false but center forward true talent Cesc Fabregas sowed Giorgio Chiellini to address a center in aerial withdrawal to the head of David Silva (14e). We haven’t even played for a quarter of an hour that Spain has already put Italy under its boot.

A nightmare for the opponent

Three weeks earlier, the Italians had nevertheless stood up to the title holder in the group stage (1-1 in Gdansk). But in Kiev, the teammates of elegant playmaker Andrea Pirlo are helpless and wandering around the field. Football becomes a painful sport when it comes to running behind the ball. Thiago Motta’s injury outing, five minutes after entering the game, completed the Nazionale, which suffered its ordeal at ten against eleven. The replacements, Fernando Torres (sole scorer in the 2008 final against Germany) and Juan Mata, will finish the job.

The Italian Antonio Cassano surrounded by the Spanish, on July 1, 2012, in Kiev.

Defeated coach Cesare Prandelli must acknowledge his helplessness. “We have met a great team. They are world champions. Spain has really made history, and rightly so, ” he explains. The transalpine press doesn’t say anything else, like The Republic : “It was not a match, it was a spectacular lesson in football. “

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas had a few stops to make, notably in front of Antonio Cassano or Antonio Di Natale, but nothing very threatening. By preserving his goal against the Italians, he extended an incredible series, that of a tenth knockout match, or about seventeen hours of play, without conceding a single goal.

Annoyance and criticism

The proof that in addition to destabilizing any defense, the Spanish “tiki-taka” is also a defensive system which deprives its adversary of offensive ammunition. An insoluble puzzle when practiced at a level of excellence. What annoy fans of teams who no longer have any control of the game, reduced to the state of disjointed puppets.

Read also After defeat at the 2014 World Cup, Spanish football is time for choices

Right after this trilogy of success, the man of this 2012 final, the discreet Andres Iniesta, takes a lot of perspective on the critics of the Spanish style. “We are not here to say that our game is the most beautiful of all. Everyone has a different opinion, he lets go, all to his joy. Now we want to enjoy the victory. It’s unique. It’s magic. Something that cannot be repeated. People cannot ignore how awesome it is. “

More impetuous, his young friend Fabregas delivers a more direct message to his protesters: “These people who think we are playing boring … in my opinion, they don’t understand the game.” The future Monegasque could have cited, for his defense, Baudelaire: “Nothing equals the length of the lame days / When under the heavy snowflakes of the snowy years / Boredom, fruit of dreary incuriosity, / Takes the proportions of immortality. “

Find our Top 30 matches that marked the Euro

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