Euro 2012: Who Were Spain's Heroes Throughout the Tournament?
On Sunday, July 1st, 2012, Spain managed to dominate Italy in a 4-0 victory in the European Championship for their third consecutive major tournament championship, something that no other team has ever done.
The first half ended 2-0, with Spain making the most of their chances, while Italy just wasn't able to get their rhythm going in the match. At one point in the second half, Italy's third substitution, Thiago Motta, got injured—this left the Italians with 10 men, to face Spain's 11.
In the last 27 minutes of the match, Spain just took advantage of the fact that they had more players than Italy, and managed to score two more goals; one by Fernando Torres and another by Matta.
As a result of this win, this Spanish team is being considered one of the best of all time.
With this great tournament campaign, this Spanish side has seen many players step up, and these players have been huge factors in Spain's success.
So with that, here are some of Spain's heroes who have played well in the entirety of this tournament.
Iker Casillas, the Spanish captain and goalkeeper, had a marvelous tournament—he only conceded one goal in the whole tournament, and that goal came against Italy in their 1-1 draw in the group stages.
This man has managed to make some astonishing saves in each match, and it has been inspiring to watch as a teammate, a manager and a spectator. He has been able to step up in almost every match to ensure that no goals get past him into the net.
Not only is Casillas great in his position, but he is a great leader. Not only has he captained this team in this years Euro tournament, but he also captained them in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2008 Euro tournament as well.
Casillas has the qualities of a leader and has been crucial in Spain's success.
Cesc Fábregas has been given a very tough task this tournament. He was removed from his comfort zone in midfield and has been used as a forced No. 9. This move by Vicente del Bosque received much criticism, but in the end, it managed to work quite well for the Spaniards.
Fábregas scored his first goal in the first match of the group stages against Italy. He proved to be effective from the start in his upfront position.
He then scored his second goal in the 4-0 thrashing of Ireland. He came on as a substitute for Fernando Torres in the second half and finished with an emphatic shot that went in off the post.
He has been in a tough role, but he managed to do great in this position. That's why I give him credit—he has been another big key in Spain's success this tournament.
Jordi Alba might have been Spain's best player this tournament.
The left back has been extremely influential whenever he is on the pitch. He has been a good defensive player against the various wingers in this tournament, and he has been able to join the attack on occasions.
When joining the attack, he can make good crosses, or even score just the way he did against Italy in the final match.
Not only are his football skills great, but his energy level is just fabulous. When some of the other Spanish players are playing a bit lazily, it is Jordi Alba who is the energetic one, sprinting all across the field.
The funny thing is that he has all these traits, and he is just 23-years-old. Despite his young age, he has been one of Spain's keys to success.
Xavi is always a big part of the Spanish team. He is arguably the best passer in the world. His ability to find players in a tight situation has helped Spain in their success.
In the final match against Italy, Xavi strung together two magnificent passes to assist the goals of Jordi Alba and Fernando Torres.
This player has been one of Spain's mastermind passers, and he has managed to lead the attack, forming various passing triangles and "one-two's."
There isn't any doubt that Xavi is one of Spain's best players, and he is crucial in Spain and Barcelona's victories.
Andrés Iniesta has been one of Spain's other leaders in the attack. As it is said by many, "Xavi, Iniesta, está una fiesta!" This means, "Xavi, Iniesta, it's a party!" Iniesta is one of the team's key attackers for many reasons.
Iniesta is a great dribbler first of all. He has the ability to dribble by players with skill and quickness. This speed that he has is key because it allows the Spanish attack to flow. This was proven in the final match. When Spain were quick, they were effective.
He is also a good passer. When the opportunity arises, Iniesta is capable of making a good, sneaky pass to set up an opportunity on goal.
Without him, Spain would not be as good and successful as they are today.
Gerard Pique is one of the best defenders out there in football. Earlier, I had mentioned that Spain had only conceded one goal in the whole tournament. That is because of great defenders such as Pique.
He has made many great tackles and blocks in each match, and he is a big factor in Spain's defensive success. He has also been able to win some key headers due to his size.
Without Pique's presence in the Spanish defense, the team would not have had so many clean sheets.
David Silva is another one of Spain's midfield maestros.
He is a great dribbler, maybe the best on the team, and as a result of this, many goals have been scored. He is able to beat defenders with skill and pace, and is able to make an intricate pass afterward to set up an opportunity on goal.
Silva can also score. He scored one of the goals in the 4-0 destruction of the Irish. After a few fakes, he had a nice cool finish that Shay Given just couldn't stop.
He was another one of Spain's heroes this tournament.
These seven players were the heroes of Spain's Euro campaign, but all the other players also played a huge part in Spain winning the tournament.
However, without the great performances of these heroes, Spain would not have come out the victors.