KYIV: If Spain retain their European crown in Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium against Italy, Vicente Del Bosque will become the first man in football history to have won, as a coach, the World Cup, European title and Champions League.
Father figure Del Bosque guided Real Madrid to victory in Europe’s most prestigious club tournament in 2000 and 2002. He took over as manager of Spain after the European title win in 2008, following the retirement of Luis Aragones. It was thus ‘on his watch’ that Spain won the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa.
Spain will make team history if they win in Kyiv. No national team has won a successive hat-trick of titles. The closest before was West Germany who won the European title in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974 but then lost the 1976 European final to Czechoslovakia in a penalty shootout.
Del Bosque is confident and that is based on the essence of continuity within his team. He said: “We have worked very hard for many years with this team and we would like this victory to top off this work. But we know Italy have changed. They started well against us in the group and have kept on improving so they are worthy rivals in this final.”
He would not be drawn on whether he would pick an orthodox centre-forward – such as Fernando Torres – or keep his faith with the ‘false nine’ system featuring midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
Del Bosque praised as “extraordinary” the two goalkeeper-captains, Spain’s own Iker Casillas and Italy’s Gigi Buffon and acknowledged the Azzurri’s skill in midfield as portrayed in Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo.
However he added: “We are a great team, almost a family . . .what has been achieved so far can be a disadvantage but we have strong players who know what the sport is about and what they are facing. We haven’t lost any trophies while integrating younger players . . . and all of those share the illusions and dreams of the entire team.”
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