Spain Euro 2008
Coach: Luis Aragones / Vicente Del Bosque
Achievements: Euro 2008 Champions, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012 Champions
Key Players: Torres, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Casillas, Alonso, Silva, Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Pique
Formation: 4-4-2 / 4-2-3-1 / 4-6-0
Spain, one of football's perennial under-acheivers finally came good - becoming European champions in 2008 and then world champions two years later. With a striking depth of talent, that saw them win the 2010 World Cup with players of the calibre of Fabregas and Silva typically starting on the bench (and Torres under-performing), they showed remarkable commitment to a pure footbaling style - flawlessly transferring Barcelona's 'tiki-taka' possession-based game to the world stage. When they overcome the shocking anti-football thuggery of van Marwijk's Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup Final it was a victory for the beautiful game.
Spain then achieved the unprecedented feat of securing three major championships in a row when they won Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine. With Villa injured and Torres out of favour Del Bosque often took the radical move of playing a 4-6-0 formation with Fabregas in a false number 9 position. Puyol was also injured, meaning Ramos had to move into central defence. These forced changes left the team a little weaker than previously, although the emergence of Alba at left-back was a definite improvement. Spain were criticised when their patient passing approach was less penetrative and led to fewer shots on goal than previously, and they looked laboured in certain games (such as against Portugal in the semi-final). However, their emphatic 4-0 win against Italy in the final answered critics in the most positive way. Crucially two of the goals were scored when Torres came on late in the game, and the team always looked stronger when he added a traditional centre forward's role to the team. Iniesta was awarded best player of the tournament and Torres (amazingly given his playing time) was awarded top scorer.
Spain's era of dominance ended in dramatic fashion when they were beaten 5-1 by the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup, an event from which they have not yet recovered. It seems the world has moved on from tiki-taka.