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June has indeed brought real sensation to soccer lovers. After 30 matches of excitement, Euro 2012 had come to the clash of titans, Spain against Italy — with Spain eventually claiming the crown after crushing Italy 4-0 in the final match.
Looking way back at the beginning, prior to when the entire series kicked off, some issues emerged to surface that this year’s Euro Cup would fail to please its fans. It all began with the prolonged financial crisis within the eurozone.
Both finalists even had their own domestic crisis. Spain was nearly forced to propose a budget bailout, while Italy had public debt approaching a staggering ¤2 trillion.
In addition, the pragmatic approach of soccer started to bloom and spread as a growing trend, as exhibited by Chelsea FC when winning the 2012 European Champions League. This, for sure, has brought some concerns in the eyes of soccer observers.
Many believe that this new trend tries to break down the tradition of attractive soccer; the one that most spectators expect, as can be seen in the lack of goals tally.
Standing out as a comparison is the fact that up to the semifinals in this year’s tournament, only three goals were scored at most by a player (Mario Balotelli of Italy and Mario Gomez of Germany).
Meanwhile, at the same phase eight years ago in Portugal, Milan Baros of the Czech Republic had already booked five goals.
Though on the other hand it implicitly indicates that the soccer level has been spread evenly throughout Europe, still, the lack of goal productivity is also a milestone toward the new era of soccer.
To the beginning of this century, soccer was always referring to the names of strong and goal-thirsty attackers such as Spanish Raul Gonzalez and Frenchman David Trezeguet. Over the last few years, the trend began to shift its core to players in the penalty box — names such as Spanish Gerard Pique and Iker Casillas.
The shifting patron of the game directly takes on the expected attractive soccer, not to mention the tendency to pile midfielders as applied by Spain with its legendary “Tiki-Taka” soccer.
Yes, soccer nowadays is undergoing fundamental changes to the existing framework. Thus, its definition should already be replaced with the new one; a flowing and dynamic soccer.
The Euro 2012 took its peak as Spain defended their title with the effortless win against 1960s European Champion, Italy. Three international titles within four years — 2008 and 2012 Euros and 2010 World Cup — is that not an achievement?
Some skeptical comments rose at the start of this competition, disbelieving La Furia Roja to defend its title. In the era of pragmatic soccer, ball-possession strategy as practiced by Spain is considered as a beautiful, but boring masterpiece.
The understatements continued especially after the Spaniards introduced their unlikely lineup of 4-6-0, seemingly a slap to international soccer as they wiped out the role of striker or pure forward.
Even so, their back-to-back wins have had a major role as a wake-up call to the soccer world when they shaved off the great force of Italy with four goals to nil.
Regardless of the rising arguments, Spain has brought a new dawn to the entire soccer game play; a testament of unity and integrity. With various backgrounds (Catalan, Madrid, Basque and Andalusia), Spanish soccer is far more diverse than merely the feud of El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, the teams the media kept on talking about.
That is perhaps the original cause of all the questions about whether harmony can be maintained in the locker room. In fact, Spain gave the game a solid success and proof of kinship existing under the national team banner.
Sure, it will be in vain without sufficient quality of squad depth as they displayed. Even if the Spanish national team was divided into two, both are likely feasible to meet up in the final, an assumption that reflects the strength of FIFA’s number one.
Spanish succession in European soccer is set as a reminder to a classical allusion — soccer is a religion.
Despite the controversy that the metaphor ignites, Euro 2012 stands as proof that soccer earns huge fans, as noted by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) that the final match earned at least 250 million viewers worldwide.
To us in Indonesia, this year’s grand event has brought some fortune to jersey merchants, notably earning a profit of up to 200 percent.
In the culinary world, this event might also just be a line of business expansion. Social venues such as restaurants and cafés are in a race to create the most happening nonton bareng (communal screenings), surely profit oriented.
Indeed, there is nothing wrong with it. Using the idea for the Greater Good, an exception will be made to justify this form of capitalism.
As for the European nations, this event has successfully created public diversion from the real and emerging issue of a European Union crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared the same thought, taking her time off to support the German national team.
This is, without a doubt, an enormous morale package in the process of public encouragement after the collapse of the Greek economy, wherein the rumor has it that the European Union will follow.
One of the most impressive achievements of Euro 2012 is global imaging. Movements such as anti-racism and respect seemed to earn a particular place in each and every game.
This, however, should be a clear reference to us that a single ball and 16 teams can encourage and unite the wider community into one universal language — soccer.
Speaking of Indonesia, of course we are not content simply to sit back and enjoy. Let us see and expect the best, to where our national team Garuda will eventually take us.
The writer is editor-in-chief of Jogja Destination TVRI Yogyakarta and soccer articles contributor for SBS Radio, Australia