Spanish Maestros

Spanish players celebrate with the trophy after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Spanish players celebrate with the trophy after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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Stylish Spain produced a footballing masterclass to retain the European Championship at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Sunday night.

Vincente Del Bosque’s all conquering side out-passed and out-classed the Italians to become the first team to win three major tournaments in a row.

At the beginning of Euro 2012 most pundits felt the winners would come from either Germany, Holland or Spain.

And, in the end, it was the history-making Spanish who went all the way as they romped to a sublime win over the Italians.

Holland went home early after showing their customary lack of both passion and imagination while Germany have probably been the biggest disappointment of all.

Joachim Loew has put together a youthful and occasionally exciting team but the lack of a midfield general similar to Italy’s Pirlo has seen them fail to realise their undoubted potential.

The undoubted surprise packages of the tournament have been Italy who were considered rank outsiders.

Playing superb counter-attacking football they saw off teams such as England and the much fancied Germans.

And it was an Italian player who has caught the eye. I refer of course to Andrea Pirlo.

The midfielder is a throw-back to an era when skill was the most valued commodity in a midfield player’s locker.

Modern midfield players are athletes first and foremost and footballers secondly.

People tend to talk about how much ground such and such a player has covered. Yet Pirlo lacks pace, doesn’t really tackle and doesn’t cover anywhere near as much ground as some of his opponents.

Yet give him the ball at his feet and he can make things happen. He can slow a game down or speed games up depending on what is needed.

He can pass the ball long or short and change the direction of play almost at will.

In short he is a proper player and I think at 33 years of age he decided to show the world what he could do as it could be his last big stage.

However, he met his match in Sunday’s final as Spain’s midfield magicians made sure he played a mere spectating role.

We have enjoyed watching the skills of both the Italian and, of course, the Spanish who prove that size and athletic ability are not everything having produced another outstanding display against the Italians to lift the trophy once again.

Read more from the Doc every Tuesday in the Journal