It's the morning after the evening before and the footballing world is left wondering: is this the greatest team in history?
Holding the Euro trophy aloft after a frankly awe-inspiring victory against the Italians, Spain have certainly added fuel to the fire concerning many claims that they are the finest international squad to ever lace up their boots. Their winning of this trophy makes them the first ever team to win three major international tournaments in a row, while the 4-0 scoreline is the highest ever margin of victory in either a European final or a World Cup final.
The magnificent victory comes at the conclusion of a tournament which has seen the squad defending themselves against criticisms that their style of play is "boring", their tactics raising the ire of many a neutral who became disenchanted with their slow and considered movements towards goal.
But in the last night of Euro 2012 Spain suddenly raised their game, no longer settling in midfield and waiting for their opponents to crumble, but instead actively deconstructing Italy and going for the kill. And kill they did – following Silva's opening goal (which capitalised on an excellent ball through the blindsided Italian defence from Iniesta to Fabregas), Italy never looked like they would be able to fight back. A stunningly perfect link-up between Xavi and Jordi Alba saw Alba make his way through the leaking Italian defence to make it 2-0, with the goal viewable in the below video:
Mario Balotelli remained invisible, his limited chances on goal never managing to sneak their way past the indomitable Casillas. Andrea Pirlo was a shade of the player who many are hailing as the greatest in the tournament, scuffing free kicks and unable to utilise the vision that saw him prove to be an immense threat against Germany and England. Spain acknowledged his conducting of those games and forced him to keep his head down.
As Italy were brought down to 10 men in the second half following an unfortunate hamstring injury for their third and final substitute Thiago Motta, even the fiery Italian spirit could not prevent them from becoming more and more overwhelmed as the clock ticked by. As Torres made his way onto the pitch as a late substitute, Spain now saw themselves with a striker on the pitch for the first time in the game. This was quickly made apparent when the much-maligned Chelsea benchwarmer sealed Italy's fate in the 84th minute, played on from a lovely ball by Iniesta and slotting it past Buffon to make it 3-0. He then quickly followed this up with an unselfish assist to Mata in the 88th minute, winning the Golden Boat award for top scorer from Mario Gomez in the process, despite not being a regular fixture in Spain's starting line-up.
As the full-time whistle blew and Spain were crowned the victors with a score of 4-0, those who described their Euro 2012 performance as lacking tempo and underwhelming were suddenly silenced. The Italians looked on with tears in their eyes as the Spaniards held the trophy aloft, a better team in every department. While the Italians showed great heart, exemplified by Balotelli's furious storming down the tunnel and dismissal of coach Prandelli, they were simply no match for a team who are not only the best in the world right now, but who may also be the best of all time.