It is January 27, 2006 and UEFAs members are all gathered together in Switzerland for the draw of the 2008 European Championships. For the draw that day Spain are placed in pot two and ranked by the co-efficients as the thirteenth best side in Europe. They are given a group led by Sweden. It is now the summer and the Spanish are in Germany for the World Cup. They never look like a power and are thrashed by France in the last 16. Three months later a team featuring Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, David Villa and Fernando Torres lose 3-2 to Northern Ireland. A month later they are beaten 2-0 by Sweden, trailing for 80 minutes of the match. Spain are nobodies on a track to a major tournament in third gear, preparing to fail once again at a major tournament. Coach Luis Aragones thought differently. He saw the special players he had and demanded they change their style. It was the first seed that was planted that led to the losers becoming winners. "Aragones changed our style, no longer regularly crossing from those wide areas. It was then when he decided to put his faith in the smaller players, said midfielder Marcos Senna. Spain made it to Euro 2008 and when David Villa scored a 92nd minute winner against the aforementioned Sweden in the group stages, people still didnt believe in their credentials. They always fail and will again was the public sentiment. It is June 22, 2008 and Spains quarterfinal game against Italy has ended 0-0. Time for penalties. Their record from the spot in such scenarios was 2-4 in major tournaments. Losers again. Cesc Fabregas, only 21, changed everything when he slotted home the winner that night in Vienna. Sure, Spain were delighted to win but the overriding emotion was relief. Relief that led to belief. Russia, beaten already in the group stages, were easy opponents in the semifinal and then Germany were defeated 1-0 on a sublime pass from Xavi and a clinical finish from Torres. From losers to winners inside two years. Vicente Del Bosque took over from Aragones after Euro 2008. "Some said it was the worst time to inherit the squad, it was the best," he would later say. Now they were winners, under the guidance of the brilliant Del Bosque, Spains integral players took over and their outstanding football brains became the difference. At the 2010 World Cup they lost to Switzerland in the first game but as European champions they didnt think of themselves as flops. David Villa and Andres Iniesta got them into the knock-out stages and against Portugal in the last 16, another tight game, one moment of brilliance was the difference. Iniesta danced outside the box, saw a gap between the channels for Villa to run on to but it was a tad too slow. "I had seen the pass by Andres, meant for Villa, so I just backheeled it," Xavi would say. Villa did the rest. 1-0 Spain. Helped by the brain of the master. It would be 1-0 Spain again defeating Paraguay in the quarterfinals, a game that was far from easy and again won on the field and in the mind. Iker Casillas saved a penalty from Oscar Cardozo but it was not on instinct. Spains intelligence rose again. Casillas recapping the game said; "Pepe (Reina, backup goalie) is obsessed with how the opposition takes penalties, with his help I knew he would go that way." Reina added: Cardozo, in tight matches, always went to his safe side." Spain would win 1-0, again led by Iniesta and finished by Villa, to finally get beyond the quarterfinals. Through their brilliance on the field and their preparation off it they were knocking down barriers past Spanish teams fell over. "We broke old ways of thinking (that day), that we were inferior to others," said Del Bosque. The semifinal against Germany was equally as tight. Spain controlled the game, showed Germany what they needed to do to improve, but they still couldnt score. Xavi recalled: "At half-time Puyol said we had taken three or four corners already and said if you put it near the penalty spot, then we could cause problems." In the 73rd minute at Durban that day, Xavi produced another stunning assist in a major game, and Puyol did exactly what he said. 1-0 Spain. Another victory won by their brilliance on and off the pitch. By now Spain were easily the best team in the world. They just needed a game to prove it. And 116 minutes. Iniesta, fittingly, delivered the knock out punch and Spain were champions of the world. They had conceded fewer goals than any previous winner. They had changed the game and set the standard. Since losing to Sweden almost four years earlier they had trailed just five times, none more than 46 minutes, losing just once to Switzerland. Qualifying for Euro 2012 was much the same. They went down a goal to the Czechs but came from behind to win, as they always did. They were huge favourites for Euro 2012 despite star striker Villa being ruled out injured. Del Bosque used it as an opportunity to try something new. The great innovators, who were being copied by everyone - after all, winners are always imitated - were changing their identity again. Fabregas, as a false nine, scored three minutes after Italy opened the scoring in the first game and Spain would never trail again. The false nine gave them great mobility, dropped deep, controlled the space, and stopped the opposition starting transitions. France were destroyed in the quarters, and then came another tight game with Portugal. 0-0, time for penalties. Del Bosque recalls the moment as easy as many of his players wanted to take one. "We made one late switch, replacing Iniestas order with Fabregas, because he wanted to take the last one, remembering four years earlier." Intelligence once again coming to the fore. Fabregas scored the final penalty and Spain went on to crush Italy in the final, again with Xavi starring with two more brilliant assists in a monumental match. Spain were accused of being boring throughout that tournament but this team was a team to watch with a smile on your face; not with frustration. They had made something very difficult look easy, had produced ball treasurers and space invaders that forced their opponents to re-think their own styles. Major tournaments like the World Cup care little for reputations; they create them. And in a knock-out tournament, where one game, one mistake, one decision can change a game it was Spain that dominated three of them in a row. During that, they not only changed their own reputations but they changed how the game was played. A decade before their success it was thought that players below six feet tall were not strong enough to deal with physical demands of the direct play that was so evident in the modern game. Then came the little masters from Spain. Their place in football history is secure. Yes, they were successful but they were also pioneers led by true footballing greats. Greats like Iker Casillas, a magnificent goalkeeper and captain who united a team divided by Barcelona and Real Madrid and no longer tolerated the antics that held the team back. Greats like Carles Puyol, a man who was never physically gifted to play at the highest level of his profession but who was a winner and who read the game brilliantly. Greats like Xavi Hernandez, simply one of the best players to play the game, and arguably the best player Spain has ever produced. The true conductor of the orchestra, the cleverest of all of midfielders, whose tactical awareness and vision we should talk about for the rest of our lives. Indeed, it isnt just Xavi that we should recount stories about. We are key witnesses; the guardians of history and in years to come will often be able to tell generations to follow just how this Spain team were. That book closed on a raucous night at the Maracana on Tuesday. It was not the death of tika-taka, far from it, instead it was simply the end of a team thats core players struggled to still play together. Many of their core players were off form and they were not a team built to play from behind against talented teams. From that loss in Sweden in 2006 to the start of this World Cup, the World and European champions had trailed in just seven of 54 competitive matches, winning 47 of them and losing just once. Chasing a game against a top side, their pivot of Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso struggled for the second straight game. Casillas, past his prime and not sharp could do nothing. Xavi, dropped, watching on the bench was powerless. It was a sad ending to a wonderful chapter in the sport. Sure, Spain will come again. At 30, Iniesta must surely delight many a neutral who desires to see him play in another World Cup, and legitimate world class players like Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and David Silva will not be going anywhere. They will be joined by many young stars that they have coming and it will not surprise anyone to see this team win another major tournament in the next decade. However, theyll never be like they were. Our parents had Brazil 1958-1970 and we had Spain 2008-14. We should never forget them. Melvin Frazier Jersey . PAUL, Minn. Tracy Mcgrady Jersey .9 million deal Thursday. The 25-year McGinn had 19 goals and 19 assists in 79 games last season in helping the Avalanche tie a franchise record with 52 wins. http://www.magicbasketballprostore.com/ ... ic-jersey/. Bale has had a successful debut season in Spain, and Ancelotti appears ready to reward him with a starting role on Saturday. Ancelotti says "Gareth had some problems at the beginning (of the season) but when he found good physical condition he scored a lot of goals, he had a good impact on the team. Dwight Howard Jersey .com) - SirDominic Pointer posted career highs of 24 points and seven steals to lead No. Jonathan Isaac Jersey .ca. Kerry, In the first period of Saturdays Montreal-Ottawa game, Brendan Gallagher is called for goaltender interference. Craig Anderson is outside the blue paint trying to make the save.Gary Neville says Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United side will be gutted after conceding a late equaliser against Arsenal. Olivier Girouds late leveller cancelled out Juan Matas second-half opener and was Arsenals only effort on target at Old Trafford. Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal Sky Sports pundit Neville says Arsenal will be the happier of the two sides, but admits he did not feel like he was watching potential champions on Saturday. Olivier Giroud heads past David De Gea to equalise for Arsenal Jose Mourinho and his team will be gutted, Neville said on the Gary Neville Podcast. Weve been in football a long time to know the result is everything. Although there will be a mood in the Manchester United dressing room that they deserved to win, it counts for nothing.They are drawing and dropping points in games you would say they should have won. If you look at the table, three or four points makes a big difference psychologically. Its not a bad day for United, but its a disappointing day for the way it has finished. Gary Neville Podcast Listen to Gary Nevilles Manchester United v Arsenal verdict here It was a really poor performance from Arsenal, but theyve come away and got a point. In my playing days, we would have absolutely been delighted with a point away at a big club, especially being 1-0 down with a few minutes to go. Youd be thinking: Thats what wins titles. Thats the sort of language wed be using in the dressing room after.I didnt get the impression or feeling today that I was watching the champions. It can change, we know it can change, but when I think of the performance of Chelsea against United, or even Liverpool away at Chelsea, or Tottenham against City, or City against United, there was far more intensity and quality in those games.dddddddddddd Juan Mata celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game Arsenal are unbeaten since the opening day, and that is some doing, and they are resilient in a sense that they fight their way back to second or third, can they finally make that jump?I didnt get the feeling watching Arsenal on Saturday that we were watching a team that would go on and win the league, but thats just me in this moment. Man Utd-Arsenal talking points Five talking points from Manchester Uniteds 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford. Youd have to question Arsenal today for 85 minutes, they didnt show any belief, any purpose. I do think, however, after internationals you have to give a bit of leeway. Sir Alex used to say we would come back with our head full of mince, travelling from different places. Its not easy.Mata put in another decent showing for United, and Neville believes he performed the better of the three attacking players alongside Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.Although Mourinho sold Mata to United while at Chelsea back in 2014, Neville says there seems to be an improved chemistry between the pair at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho shows his frustration during the game He does score goals, and he does create moments in games. I myself questioned whether he fits the profile of a Manchester United wide player, because thats where he is playing, even if I know he ends up drifting in, Neville added.But with the size of the pitch here, the ability to counter attack and have wing play has always been Manchester Uniteds way, so you wondered where he would fit in.I have to say thats been one of the surprises out of the first few months in Jose Mourinhos reign. When Mata came off there was a little hug with Mourinho, there seemed to be a level of respect that was not always there when he was at Chelsea, when Mata was ultimately sold.Hes adapted well, hes played well, and hes always had a good attitude, hes a top player. At the moment hes doing very well. He was the better of the front three on Saturday. 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