How Did Spain National Football Team Make History in Euro 2012

Spain National Football Team made history in Euro 2012. They are the first team in history to have won three consecutive major football competition. Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. No other country has done this before. Well done, Spain.

I started supporting the Spaniards since Euro 2008 before they were crowned the European Champion. I simply love their way of football. They must be doing something right to achieve this phenomenal result.

What did they do that the rest of the country did not do?

Some of the points mentioned below are my assumption.


Clearing Up Differences
While I envy Spain playing fluid football in the final and impressing me with their team work, it was a different story before Euro 2012. Players were carrying emotional baggages and differences from their clubs to the national team.

Spain National Team is mainly made up of two groups of players. Players from Barcelona Football Club and Real Madrid Football Club made up 56% of the National Team.The rest are from Football Clubs all over the world. Another nice statistic: Barcelona and Real Madrid made up ten of the starting eleven. The last name goes to David Silva of Manchester City.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are head-logged rivals since the beginning of time. They occupied either 1st or 2nd in the Spanish League (La Liga) yearly. Players from both sides don’t see eye to eye with one another. Sometimes, the rivalry on-field are being brought off-field. Can you imagine when these two groups of players with ultra huge egos come together to play as a team? Will there be explosion? You bet!

But Captain and first choice Goalkeeper of Spain, Iker Casillas did an unusual act. He called his fellow national teammates who are from the rivalry club. He proposed to put the differences aside, so that they can play as a unit. He convinced his rivalry teammates that there is a bigger cause to play for. Club rivalry is too petty to be in the way of their third gold medal of International Football.

This act alone from the Captain prevented the implosion like France or Holland. This is also a true act of leadership, taking the initiative to call up opposite players for a bigger cause.

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Let’s go back to Spain.


Ego Aside
All big teams consists big names with big egos. These players achieved fame and wealth at a young age. Some of them lose control of that ego. Example Cristiano Ronaldo is making 12 million euro annually at the age of 27. Having all these ultra rich players playing together in itself is a challenge Because they are legends in their own mind.

Just look at how Holland imploded in the competition. With so much talents and expectation, yet they lost all three games. One of their striker, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar complained of being used as a substitute. He said he was angry and disappointed.

On the other hand, Spain is able to put the ego, fame and personal gain aside. Spain has much talents too. Same like Holland, many of their talented footballers are on the bench. Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Pedro, Victor Valdes and others can walk into any team to be the starting eleven, yet they are put on the bench waiting patiently for their chance to serve their country.

We didn’t hear Fernando Torres complaining, we didn’t see Pedro’s unhappy face about not starting the game. They are willing to put ego aside to play for their beloved country. They are willing to put personal gain and fame aside for the team to excel.

This is easier said then done. How do you manage the egos in your world class team?


Possession Game
Spain plays a possession game from their triangle passing style. They usually had more than 60% possession in the games.

This allows them to control the game the way they like it. Whether it is to play the ball back to defence, play it around the front third to look for a weak spot or play it through the opponent’s defence for a scoring chance. Opponents become reactive playing against Spain. More than 60% of the time, teams playing against Spain were being forced to react to Spain’s style. Teams were unable to play their own game in these instances.

Are you playing your own game in life? Or are you being reactive to circumstances around you? Before oyu answer, I like you to know that sometimes you can be deceived into thinking that you are playing your game but in actual fact you are being reactive to the surroundings.

I asked a friend who has been changing job for the past 5 years. “Do you change job because of your choice, or because of circumstances? He said it was his choice. The reasons of him changing job is because of housing, paycheck, retrenched etc. His last job was a sales job so that  he won’t be limited by income cap. But, he’s back in employment now, because it didn’t work out. This is an example of thinking you are playing your game, but in actual fact you are being reactive to circumstances.

This other kind of deceiving also happens all the time. Some play a different game depending on who they hang around most. Either they aren’t sure what they want in life or they are not firm with what they want. If they hang around with a group of chef, they will get interested in cooking, and wanted to be a chef. Few months later, they realized that chef is not for them. These group are usually being reactive to people around them.

Importantly, know your game and play it. So are you playing your own game? What is the game that you are playing? Are you having the ball in your possession taking control of your game?


Be Boring
In this Euro 2012, Spain was considered a boring team. They pass, pass and pass Zzzzzzzz.

Yup, the opposing team fell asleep, so does the spectators. I couldn’t bear watching one of their games after 30 mins.

Spain achieves success because they don’t just do the scoring (the fun part of football), they executed the passing (leading to the scoring) so well. While it is fun and dramatic to score in games, but teams have to do the boring passings to build the game.

In my business, the trainings and coaching is the fun part. Deliver a piece of training is the scoring part in the business. However, it’s the boring passing (some felt it’s boring) like social media marketing, writing articles, creating marketing, creating marketing channels and prospecting that create the scoring opportunities. That’s why there are many who want to be a trainer, but none wants to do the hard work.

Are you doing the “boring” things in life? Or are you only looking for the scoring part? Before the dramatic scoring, the “boring” passing is required to build your game.


The Great Goalkeeper of the past, Peter Schmeichel of Denmark hammered those who criticize Spain as boring and negative. He said that they are playing their way of football with consistency. Though it seems that Spain doesn’t attack as much, they are consistent. This consistency shows result, and that is all that matters on football – winning.

To get this blog to success, I have to consistently add postings, comment on other blogs, building back links etc. I am consistently doing things to build this blog. Though some are repetitive tasks(boring), but I have to do it to create scoring opportunities.

Since I have to to create opportunities, I like to take this opportunity to create one here. When you have a desire to create breakthrough results in a short period of time, contact me for personal coaching. When you have desire to kick procrastination or other bad habits, contact me to support you. When your organization like to build a world class team through team building workshop that produces results, contact me too.

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Did I score any goal?

Let’s go back to Spain!


Appropriate Innovate To Win
We mentioned so much about the players, we have to mentioned Spain’s Manager, Vicente Del Bosque. Credit must be given to this unorthodox manager who plays Spain without a striker. He seems to be mocking at the other country by not playing a striker. Of course he’s not that arrogant to mock at the rest of the countries. Actually he’s playing a tactical game.

Since Spain is the world champion, other teams will formulate all sorts of tactic to stop Spain’s progress, . Vicente Del Bosque has to innovate new tactics to have an edge. Playing with six midfielders and zero striker confuses the opposing defenders. Because the defenders has no one to mark and don’t know who to mark. And the 6 midfielders can switch to strikers due to their mobility. We can see that in the Final when Italy’s defence was being bombarded.

Of course, to be able to do that, Spain consists of a pool of talented, world class midfields. Vicente Del Bosque knew is the strength of the squad. He knew where to innovate appropriately to best suit his team. He created a new football formation, 4-6-0.

Where are you innovating today? Do you know your strength? Are you innovating appropriately to best suit you?


They gain mastery in their way of football. No one plays a passing game better than Spain. Iker Casillas said, “What we do is very difficult. We made it look simple.” That is absolutely right. To pass the ball into space, off-ball players moving around, never hold the ball for more than 3 seconds is very hard to do. Perfect individual skill with seamless teamwork are required to execute this kind of fluid play.

Successful people gain mastery in what they do. In the book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell mentioned that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Beatles all gain mastery in what they do. They invested 10,000 hours of practice to be where they are.

Which area of life will you like to be a master of? Have you achieve your 10,000 hours?


Show Up When It Is Final
Spain was facing criticism of spoiling the beautiful game. Their fluid game without penetration was a bored to watch. What did they do?

They replied these criticisms with a 4-0 demolition of Italy in the Final.

I personally feel Spain is doing a deception game. They leaded the whole world thinking that they are no longer the attacking force 2 years ago. They deceived Italy, giving them a false belief. Italy had an illusion of defeating Spain. Alas, Italy was wrong, the world was wrong.

Spain showed up when the world thought that they could no longer play beautiful football in the beautiful game. They stunned the world with fast and penetrating play, proving to the world that we were wrong.

Do you face the final in your life? During those finals, are you showing up as well? Sometimes, you only have one chance to show it. Every opportunity in life is like a final, tune up to win your final because the world is watching you play.

Of course these are my perspective of how Spain wins Euro 2012. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. Feel free to add yours. Here is a re-cap of the winning perspective:

Clearing Up Differences
Ego Aside
Possession Game
Be Boring
Innovate To Suit
Pass Mastery
Show Up When It Is Final

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