Euro 2012 Final: Why Jordi Alba Will Excel for Spain for Years to Come
Sometimes, a sports team can be so full of star players that their teammates can get lost in the huddle and go uncredited—even if they've put on a performance worthy of headlines and plaudits.
While the entirety of Spain's squad contributed to the magnificent 4-0 victory over Italy in Kiev, particularly false nine Cesc Fabregas, goalscorer David Silva and man of the match Andres Iniesta, an extra point of celebration comes in the emergence of left-back Jordi Alba.
In just his 11th international appearance, Barcelona's new $14 million man Alba capped his breakthrough tournament with Spain's second goal in a now trademark performance.
His speed and attacking flair perfectly complemented his tenacity and determination in defence, despite the best efforts of Italy's right midfielder Claudio Marchisio.
To quote his new club's website:
"Alba, at 23, is quick and skilful, and likes to support the forwards, making life hell for right backs with his lightning runs up the flank."
The former Valencia man had already replaced veteran Joan Capdevila of Benfica as first choice left-back before the tournament had even begun. His performance throughout these European Championships spearheads a myriad of factors as to why.
Alba has given an exciting contribution to Spain's left side of attack, linking well with Iniesta on numerous occasions.
Not only that, but alongside defensive colleagues Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa, he has given Spain's opponents a nightmare job in breaking through and challenging captain and keeper Iker Casillas.
Indeed, Spain conceded a single goal throughout the entirety of the tournament—an Antonio di Natale strike in the opening Group C clash—and the clean sheet kept in the final was the fifth consecutive.
With Capdevila now 34 years old and already ousted from the national team's starting lineup, Alba is likely to become a permanent fixture for La Roja in the long-term future of the Euro 2012 champions—and an indomitable opponent for even the world's brightest right wingers.
Circumstances regarding Eric Abidal and his premature retirement are saddening, but his departure will pave a path for Alba to come in and replicate, if not outshine, the Frenchman's successes with Barcelona, furthering his case for international inclusion.
For now, the whole of Spain will rightly revel in a record-breaking night of dominating attacking football, safe in being the first nation to repeat a European Championships win.
Jordi Alba will undoubtedly be deservedly celebrating tonight, and his international career so far suggests this is only the beginning.
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