Sunday, July 1, 2012

Standing Ovation: Spanish National Football Team

After Spain's 4-0 blow out victory over Italy to win the 2012 European Championships, they have catapulted themselves into the discussion of whether or not they should be regarded as the GOAT (greatest of all time) team. In my opinion, they are definitely in the discussion, but they are not sitting atop the rankings just yet.

Side note: Congratulations to Fernando Torres for becoming the first player in history to score a goal in two different Euro finals and winning the golden boot. But more importantly, congratulations to Caleb.

Spain is the GOAT: Their run is quite impressive. "La Roja" has now won the European Championships in 2008, the World Cup in 2010, and the Euros again in 2012. They are the first team in history to successfully defend their European Championship title. That feat alone is something that puts them into the pantheon of all-time teams, but to also have a World Cup win in-between is simply unheard of. At the end of the day, they are the first team ever to win 3 straight major titles and back-to-back Euro titles.

Spain is not the GOAT: In my opinion, the other teams in discussion are the German teams during the 1970s and the Brazilian teams of the late 1990s to early 2000s.

The German run:
1970 World Cup - 3rd place
1972 European Championship - Champion
1974 World Cup - Champion
1976 European Championship - 2nd place
1980 European Championship - Champion

I could have included the 1966, 1982, and 1986 World Cup runner-up finishes, but I just wanted to highlight the decade of the 70s. Incredible. And this was all before West and East Germany reunited!

The Brazilian run:
1994 World Cup - Champion
1997 Copa America - Champion
1998 World Cup - 2nd place
1999 Copa America - Champion
2002 World Cup - Champion

If I had to choose, I would regard this Brazilian team as the greatest ever. Nothing against the Spanish -- their fundamentals and skill level is out of this world. You can make a case that the players they have sitting on their bench could compile a top-10 team themselves. (This is why my adoration of Lionel Messi and all of his accomplishments at the club level is somewhat tapered). Furthermore, I completely realize that the Copa America does not possess the same amount of talent as the European Championships, but that shouldn't hurt Brazil's legacy -- you play whoever you're scheduled to play. And in a span of 8 years, they won 4 of the 5 major tournaments they entered in and finished 2nd in the other. Additionally, they won two World Cup titles during the same time frame. If Spain somehow earns a spot in the finals at the 2014 World Cup, they will instantly become the bona-fide second-best team of all time. If they pull off a win, however, they will have a legitimate case against Brazil as being the greatest team of all time. Ironically, the 2014 World Cup will be held nowhere else but the country of Brazil. You can't make this stuff up.

With that being said, the only team to beat the two finalists in the 2012 Euros? The United States.

God Bless America.

Photo content courtesy of,, and Getty Images

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