Sunday 24 September 2017

Paul Hayward: Spain's endless ball rotation can be excitement-quashing, but who can argue with three major finals in a row?

Spain's Cesc Fabregas celebrates with goalkeeper Iker Casillas after scoring the winning penalty goal against Portugal during the penalty shoot-out in their Euro 2012 semi-final
Spain's Cesc Fabregas celebrates with goalkeeper Iker Casillas after scoring the winning penalty goal against Portugal during the penalty shoot-out in their Euro 2012 semi-final

HERE at Euro 2012 the alarm bells rang again when people yelled "boring" at their television screens as the Iberian derby between Spain and Portugal crawled towards penalties. "Sterile domination," the cry went up. "Tiki-taka tedium." And all because David Villa’s leg-break deprived the world and European champions of their normal goalscorer.

Granted, 4-6-0 is not a formation to thrill neutral hearts. Endless ball circulation can be pushed to an excitement-quashing extreme. But which boring would we prefer: 46 years without reaching the final of an international tournament (England) or three finals in a row (Spain)?

Even the worst Premier-League-is-best zealot cannot withhold credit from a country who could be the first in history to win three consecutive titles — European Championship or World Cup.

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