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Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Updated: 2012-12-25 16:33

Record victory

Spain were untroubled by controversies at Euro 2012 and basked in the glory of their record 4-0 final victory over Italy on a memorable night in Kiev in July which put the "cherry on the cake" of a superb tournament, according to former UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh. 

Inspired by their brilliant midfielder Andres Iniesta, UEFA's Player of the Tournament, Spain also strengthened their claim to be regarded among the best international teams ever after becoming the first nation to win back-to-back European Championships - either side of their 2010 World Cup triumph.

Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Spain's Iker Casillas lifts up the trophy after defeating Italy to win the Euro 2012 final soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, July 1, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

On the domestic front, Real Madrid ended Barcelona's run of three straight La Liga titles but dreams of a first European club decider between Real and Barca ended when Real lost on penalties to Bayern the night after Barca were eliminated by Chelsea.

Barca have continued to wow audiences and are well clear in La Liga this term even after talismanic but exhausted coach Pep Guardiola handed the reins to assistant Tito Vilanova in May.

The Catalans have also been hugely inspired by Messi, who at the relatively young age of 25 is fast securing his place among the greats with much of his career still ahead of him, injuries notwithstanding.

Although Barca missed out on the major prizes, their passing style enthralled millions and while Messi is adored in Catalonia, he also won over his more sceptical Argentine compatriots as he led the national team to seven wins and two draws in nine matches including World Cup qualifiers and friendlies.

Among his 90 goals were 12 for his country including hat-tricks against Switzerland and Brazil as he equalled former striker Gabriel Batistuta's Argentina record tally in a calendar year.

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