When the knockout stages began, I was looking at the remaining field and thinking that a number of teams could win the 2012 European Championship.
After watching the defending champions Spain dominate France Saturday, I finally realized that they are the team to beat.
Of course, some may say Germany, and that's hard to argue seeing how well they have played thus far, but you have to give it to the defending champions.
Spain's offense is the most frustrating one to defend in all of sports. Just when you think you have Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and others trapped, they play the perfect one-touch pass to another Spaniard.
They dominate possession every game no matter the opponent. Xavi recorded a European Championship record of most passes attempted (136) and most passes made (127) against Republic of Ireland earlier in this tournament. That's a 93.4 percent rate.
Get out of here. That's ridiculous.
Sometimes Spain passes up too many shots; however, when they can finish in the final third, they are the best team in the world because of the amount of ball possession. They have been finishing—scoring seven goals in the past three games.
When you have the ball for three-fourths of the game, you will have opportunities. Spain has made the most of their opportunities.
Also, when you are a ball-possessing team like Spain, you limit team's opportunities on net. Spain has only conceded seven shots per game at Euro 2012. That's the best in the tournament.
With Spain's ball control, the defense has been able to stay rested—something that will come into play later in the tournament.
After watching what Spain did to a formidable side in France, they are the team to beat. To be the best you have to beat the best.
It looks like the best will prevail once again.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!