Spain's Euro 2012 Winners vs. Brazil's 1970 World Cup Winners: Head-to-Head

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Spain's Euro 2012 Winners vs. Brazil's 1970 World Cup Winners: Head-to-Head

Spain's Euro 2012 triumph delivered an historic third successive major title for La Roja and has everybody in football debating whether they can now be deemed the greatest international team of all time.

The bare numbers suggest they can. No team has ever won three significant tournaments in the row, and Spain's near total dominance since Euro 2008—a period in which they've not conceded a single goal in knockout matches—is unprecedented.

But any discerning football fan will tell you statistics and records are open to vast interpretation. How, for example, can we be sure this Spain team are not benefiting from an era in which international standards have dropped?

The answer is we can't. And neither can we factor in the changes in the game over the decades to draw a fair comparison between Spain and all the great teams to have come before them. But what we can say is Spain 2008-2012 have at the very least put themselves in the discussion of the greatest national side ever assembled.

Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany of the 1970s also belong in the conversation—having won the 1972 European Championships and 1974 World Cup. They too had a chance to make it three in a row but were denied by Czechoslovakia in 1976.

And then there's the France team that won back-to-back titles at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, inspired by Zinedine Zidane. Don't forget they too summoned a dominant final performance to beat Brazil 3-0.

But the team most people turn to in this debate is Brazil's iconic 1970 World Cup winners. It was they who not only triumphed, but also did so with a flair and exuberance that has become the holy grail of how football should be played since.

With that in mind, I thought I'd compare their starting lineups for major finals—Brazil's in 1970 and Spain's at Euro 2012—and try to compare the players in each position.

It won't answer the question, but it should at least further the debate in terms of which team was better.

(As a caveat, we should of course add that part of the "greatness argument" comes down to longevity, so taking these teams in isolation won't address that factor)

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