While it was far from the instant classic that most fans hoped it would be, the defensive struggle from both squads has led to one conclusion; Spain will win the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship Final.
Portugal was the better side Wednesday, but Spain’s ability to play the best defense in this year’s Euro kept stars like Cristiano Ronaldo off the board and kept the Spaniards in the game long enough to win 4-2 on penalties, after a scoreless tie.
Many fans will give credit to poor passing or a lack of continuity from either squad, but the defense was flying around all day. While it’s true that neither side was crisp, both defenses came to play.
When soccer powerhouses like Portugal and Spain meet up with a chance to play in the 2012 Euro Finals on the line, it should be no surprise that it becomes a defensive struggle. No player wants to be the one that costs their country a chance at glory.
Fabregas told the New York Times about the game and his discussion with the ball before his final penalty kick:
The team worked really hard. I had this intuition that we could advance if we went to penalties. I said to the ball that we had to make history and that it shouldn’t let me down.
While the Spanish should be proud of their win, no matter how they got to that point, there is no reason for shame from the Portuguese side. That squad was humiliated by Spain the last time they met, but this was a matchup that they can look at on tape and say they were the better squad.
They just lost in penalty kicks; it's soccer and that happens.
The Spanish defense deserves just as much credit as the Portuguese have gotten because Ronaldo and company were playing inspired ball. With several great offensive opportunities, the Spanish proved they could lock down when needed and killed any rush before it really got started.
It doesn’t matter if it's Germany or Italy that Spain faces in the Final of the 2012 Euro, either of those sides will fall to the best defensive team in the world.