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In their collective wake, the Spaniards also did a bit of damage—even to one of their own.
After Euro 2012 and the success of Spain's experimental 4-6-0 formation, football tactics might never be the same. The center forward now seems at best slightly less necessary and at worst a relic of some ancient bygone age.
Sure, Fernando Torres scored three goals and had one assist, and that was somehow good enough for the Golden Boot. Sure, Mario Gomez played well at times and seemed unstoppable when scoring three goals.
And, sure, Mario Balotelli made headlines with his goals and antics at the top of Italy's formation.
But there were other times—mostly when Spain was off winning it all and left-back Jordi Alba was scoring a brilliant goal in the final—when forwards didn't seem all that important to the successful playing of football.
Footballer-turned-pundit Gary Lineker, himself a striker back in the good ol' days, feared the worst:
That might be a little over the top, but the times are definitely changing.
Indeed, why waste a perfectly good lineup spot on a comparatively one-dimensional player when a speedy left-back and a gaggle of midfielders can do the job just as nicely?