Euro 2012 ended in triumph for Spain as they put Italy to the sword in a one-sided final by four goals to nil. It concluded a strangely muted tournament that never really sparked into life. The Italians had produced a stunning victory over Germany in the semi-final but they never held out any hope of a repeat performance on Sunday.
Spain had only shown glimpses of their best form, notably when thrashing the Republic of Ireland 4-0 in their group fixture. Otherwise they had adopted a strangely negative approach and almost paid for it against Portugal, being taken to a penalty shootout. Their inexplicable reluctance to use an out-an-out striker perplexed most commentators. On the rare occasions that they did play with a recognised front man they looked a far better side. As it was, they were able to retain their title despite some tactical blunders. There was certainly no denying their superiority in the final as Italy capitulated. Rather than the fluent creative passing that cut open the German defence on numerous occasions, the Italians were back to the average outfit that had laboured to a penalty shootout victory over England.
A Spanish victory was certainly not a great result for the bookmakers. They started the tournament as favourites and only Germany threatened to challenge them. France and England performed no better than expected and most teams will go back to the drawing board after mediocre performances. The Italians should take heart from the fact that they made it to the final and Portugal certainly had the champions fully stretched. The horror show of the tournament was undoubtedly the Dutch who lost all three group matches. The departure of Van Marwijk came as no surprise after a bitterly disappointing effort from the World Cup finalists.
If you were impressed with the Spanish in Euro 2012, you may be surprised to find them still on offer at 11-2 with William Hill to win their fourth consecutive major tournament when they contest the World Cup in 2014. Germany are priced at 8-1 despite their semi-final exit against Italy (16-1). Eternal optimists can get 20-1 about England’s chances, the same price as Portugal. If you think England’s failure will result in a complete loss of form, Bet365 are offering 4-1 for them not to qualify for the World Cup! Brazil remain firm favourites at 7-2 and Argentina are 11-2.
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