Is Spain criticism justified?

Spain came into Euro 2012 with a reputation for playing stylish, attacking football but whatever the result of Sunday's final threaten to leave it accused of boring opponents to death.


The backlash against tiki-taka has been in full effect during the finals in Poland and Ukraine with Spain's monopolisation of possession resulting in suggestions that they are no longer any fun to watch.

Starving opponents of the ball has led to a succession of uneven contests, yet with Spain opting to field Cesc Fabregas as a false nine for much of the tournament they have not possessed much cutting edge in attack either.

So have Spain become boring? Well, statistics from Castrol EDGE certainly suggest they have become an accomplished defensive team, edging narrow games with regularity.

Eight of their past 13 games at major tournaments have finished with just one goal or fewer being scored. Indeed, Spain have not conceded a single goal in a knockout game since suffering elimination at the 2006 World Cup at the hands of France.

Of the European teams, this is the finest record in history, as our infographic below demonstrates.

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Spain have only conceded once at Euro 2012 - in their opening game against Italy - and key to their rearguard action has been a central defensive partnership of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos.

The two were pressed into forging a partnership when Carles Puyol suffered an injury prior to the tournament and they have risen to the occasion.

Barcelona's Pique is third in the table of the most clearances made at Euro 2012, according to Castrol EDGE statistics.

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Real Madrid's Ramos, who would have played at right-back had Puyol been fit, is second alongside Alvaro Arbeloa in terms of tackles made.

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In conjunction with this expert defending, Spain have hit new passing heights with their average of 691.5 passes per game being by far the most since records began.

It is even a vast improvement on the 2010 World Cup team, though sandwiched between the two Spain incarnations is the stylish Colombia side that flopped at the 1994 World Cup.

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Spain are clearly the team with the greatest passing ability and the most resolute defence, but with goals at a premium for Del Bosque's men, this combination has not made for a particularly thrilling spectacle.

What do you think? Have Spain become boring? Let us know using the comments form below.

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