By Lloyd Webb
Santi Cazorla says beating Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 was the moment everything clicked into place for the Spanish national team.
After finishing top of their group, La Roja reached the semi-finals for the first time in their history with a tense penalty shoot-out win at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.
Spain then went on to beat Russia and then Germany to win their first major international tournament, before lifting the 2010 World Cup and then retaining the European Championship two years later.
“Spanish football has always had great players, however, Spain never achieved anything until [recently],” Cazorla told Arsenal Player. "We always pinpoint the game against Italy in the European Championship 2008 quarter-finals [as the key moment].
“That was the time when we broke the quarter-finals curse of Spanish football at last! Whenever I gather with the Spain team, we end up talking about that game.
“I remember we celebrated that victory even more than the one in the final later in the tournament because we realised we were going to be crowned champions. Beating Italy was a catharsis for us. We knew we were going to win the tournament no matter what.
“Luis Aragones was the architect of our style for that European Championship. He knew what our strong skills were and he structured our way of playing according to our abilities. He also gave important roles to Xavi, Iniesta and Puyol so they could implant Barcelona’s style in the national team.
“In addition to that, Aragones had a strong belief in his plan and did not change it throughout the tournament. His plan from 2008 remains today in the national team.”
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