Gerard Pique says Spain’s miserly defence has been the key to the country’s unprecedented three international tournament wins in a row.
Vicente del Bosque’s side have not conceded a goal in ten knockout tournament games, and their clean sheet in the 4-0 victory over Italy on Sunday night meant they let in only one goal in Euro 2012 – in their opening group game against Italy.
Spain were in dazzling attacking form as they retained the European Championship against Cesare Prandelli’s side, but Pique said the backline – rarely threatened by the Azzurri – was the foundation that had enabled them to become the world’s finest team.
Speaking to AS, Pique said: “On a defensive level, we have been very good. It was important not to concede, and we had the luck to score because the chances always arrive.
“In the first half we didn't have so much of the ball, but with the two times we threatened, we scored [through David Silva and Jordi Alba].”
Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso said there was a sense of quiet satisfaction rather than raucous celebration after Spain had wrapped up their unique treble.
Their 2008 European Championship triumph ended 44 years without a trophy, and Alonso said: “The sensation and euphoria is different to the last European Championship. Everything is more moderate.
“We have celebrated with our families, and we are very calm. Four years ago there was more euphoria. We ought to feel more euphoric, but that's the way things are and we can't force them. The team has a lot of humility.”
He said Del Bosque’s team had wanted to “transmit happiness”, explaining: “If the fans enjoyed themselves, then we have done the double.
“To go three out of three is incredible. This is to try and make the people happy, and to the people that are suffering, like those in Valencia [where thousands have been forced to flee their homes by forest fires], we dedicate this triumph to them.”© ESPN