Lessons we learnt from Euro 2012

As Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final, history was made. Not only on the pitch, but even in the Twitter world. Their one World Cup and two Euro titles in a row, which we have called 'one-two' is an unparalleled achievement in the world of football.

But the tournament will not be remembered only for the ugly racism rows it threw up, Cristiano Ronaldo's turnaround midway through the tournament, England's surprising penalty defeat (duh), Germany's tires getting punctured in the semifinals and Samir Nasri's foul-mouthed rant.

This tournament will primarily be remembered (also) for the following.

Spain is the greatest team ever: We have considered the great Hungarian side of the 1950s and the West Germans in the 1970s, but the chances of them winning against this Spanish juggernaut still looks impossible. With their ability to get out of sticky situations and grind out wins, this team is certainly the best we have seen in a hundred years. Before that, Italy were busy making surprise attacks on the Ottoman empire and football was hardly on anyone's minds after the Titanic sank.

 Lessons we learnt from Euro 2012

Balotelli matured as a player over the tournament. Reuters

Spain can keep this run going: Maybe Xavi will not last till 2014 in Brazil, but he has left behind a legacy of 'how-to-play' videos which will be shown to young kids coming through youth academies in Spain. Even if you remove 'The Architect' from the equation, then Cesc Fabregas (25), Andres Iniesta (28), David Silva (26), Sergio Busquets (23), Xabi Alonso (30) and Juan Mata (24) can still keep winning with alarming ease. Keep them out of the equation and talents like Javi Martinez (23), Thiago Alcantara (21) and Iker Muniain (19) are all ready to win their places in the team.

Mario Balotelli might mature someday soon: Balotelli was a child when the tournament started. Now he is 21-years-old. Quite a rapid change for the muscle flexing version of the 8-bit favourite Super Mario. We haven't seen him elbow people or stamp at them because he couldn't get candy. Instead, we've seen him deliver some sweet goals and mature performances. Mario, congratulations... you might finally be inducted into the adult category. On a serious note, this could be the tournament that changes him forever. If he remains sane, we don't mind the insane goals.

France can and will self-destruct: The loss to Sweden came at the wrong time for the French. The draw to England hurt their egos and the memories of South Africa were so good that they could not erase them from their heads. For all the talent and the 23-match unbeaten run, France capitulated. Too many romantic people vying for the same trophy. Tch tch tch...

Ronaldo can actually play for Portugal: Ronaldo misfired, fretted, went to a corner and shed a couple of secret tears, applied his hair-gel, looked into the mirror and gave himself a silent speech before erupting onto the stage with two goals against Netherlands. He almost beat Spain single-handedly too.

England are the best team ever: To beat. Gigi Buffon was laughing his head off before the shootout. He was laughing his head off when England took the lead and he was laughing his head off at the end of the match. Meanwhile, Ashley Young has been chosen to replace Ronaldinho in this advertisement. Bruno Alves is also in the race to be in it.

Spain have set the precedent for the 4-6-0: Ah they didn't have David Villa, Fernando Torres was misfiring, Fernando Llorente seems to mysteriously miss out on games and Alvaro Negredo did not impress in the game time he got. So what? lets just play six midfielders. Six creators on the top of the pitch. And who scores eventually? The left-back. This is a team that can score with even six defenders on the pitch... or maybe six goalies? Who knows.

And with this formula tried and tested now, if a team have six quality midfielders, then they might as well use the... lets call it 'the Del Bosque'.

Never write off Italy. Never: Italy were no contenders at the start of the 2006 World Cup and they managed to win it. Italy were certainly not contenders for Euro 2012 and they reached the finals and changed their style of play on the way. This nation will never let go of their football legacy and the greatness that they attach with themselves on the pitch. And sometimes, as in Euro 2012, it works for them.

Updated Date: Jul 02, 2012 18:01:47 IST