At the beginning, there was nothing. Well, OK, there were some quarter-finals appearances here and there, but nothing else. Even though local teams - we're talking, of course, Real Madrid and Barcelona – did win European titles (sometimes one after the other), the Spanish national team just couldn't get over the hump, couldn't win the big games, couldn't win where it really mattered, when it was time to go out and perform on the big stage of world cups. They just couldn't.
They were nicknamed "La Furia Roja" (The Red Fury). They played in red, all right, but there was absolutely no fury in their game.
Forget Euro 1964 title. It was a long, long time ago, it was a one trick pony and it happened on home soil.
Then came Euro 2008.
After that, nothing was ever the same.
Because it was Tiki Taka time.
Spain reached the first in what was to become a long list of quarter-finals in the first UEFA World Cup it has qualified for, 1934 in Italy. A long period of absence came afterwards, due to the Spanish Civil War that followed by World War II. The national team resumed play in the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil, in which it had achieved a fourth place. From the 1978 tournament in Argentina and on, Spain has qualified for all the tournaments, but again, with not much success. The team reached the final of the 1984 Euro and lost to host France. Just like 1964, that was the exception and not the rule.
2008 was the year it all changed. It was no wonder that 2008 was the year Pep Guardiola started coaching Barcelona. The former defensive midfielder was a great admirer of Dutch maestro Johan Cruyff. His former coach in Barcelona has developed Total Football into an art form, that influences Spanish and world football ever since. In Barcelona and later in the Spanish national team, the system evolved. It no longer called for big, physical players. Now they called it Tiki Taka.
What you really needed for Tiki Taka to work were midfielders who could pass the ball like Van Gogh painting, and 10 players moving in unison on the field. When you have pass masters like Xabi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and David Silva controlling the ball, the midfield and the game, a new painting was created.
For the sake of the number, Spain won Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and Euro 2012, thus becoming the first European team ever to win those three consecutive titles. Between 2006-2008, Spain went undefeated for 35 consecutive matches. Three of the top five all-time goal scorers played for the national team during the same period: The leader is David Villa with 59 goals, 3rd is Fernando Torres with 38 goals and 4th on the list is David Silva with 33 goals.
But numbers alone don't tell the whole story. For not such a brief period, Spanish football was a piece of art. They could have scored on the 8th minutes, or they could have let opponents bleed and run all over the pitch for 83 minutes and then score. In between, Spain controlled the game. And the ball. It was always about the ball.
They were nicknamed "La Furia Roja". They played in red, all right, and for number of years, they unleashed their fury on whomever played against them.
Spain's most capped player is goalkeeper and former captain Iker Casillas, who have recorded 167 appearances.
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