Euro 2008 was the beginning of a golden era for Spanish football. On 29 June La Roja won the tournament, a victory they repeated in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Euro 2012. For many years previously the national side had raised the hopes of supporters, who believed that the next tournament would be better than the last; but much like England, Spain would crash out of major tournaments before they had really got going.
Besides having a youthful and talented side, the key to Spain's success in 2008 was a new approach to football that became known as tiki-taka. Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola had pioneered the system, characterised by short passing and movements, using a variety of passing channels, and maintaining possession, at Barcelona FC over a period of twenty years. However the method was perfected in the Spanish national team (which had many Barcelona players) by managers Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque. Tiki-taka moves away from the traditional thinking of formations in football to a concept derived from zonal play.
Back in 2008 Spain's group consisted of Russia, Sweden and Greece. Spain defeated Russia in the first match of the tournament 4-1; they narrowly beat Sweden 2-1 following a goal in extra time; and scored a last-minute goal against Greece in the 88th minute to win 2-1. Spain's quarter-final against Italy ended 0-0 after extra time but Spain won 4-2 on penalties after both De Rossi and Di Natale failed to score. Spain beat Russia 3-0, with all three goals coming in the second half, and made it to the competition's final for the third time after 1964 and 1984.
Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the final. La Roja quickly took control in the first half, with star player Fernando Torres scoring after running past two German defenders and slotting the ball past German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. David Villa finished as the tournament's top goal scorer with four goals.
Spain's victory in the tournament was their second, their first being in 1964. The brilliance of tiki-taka football, a talented side and a competent management inspired by the Dutch style of play led to a new era in Spanish football; the national team went on to win their first World Cup two years later and their third Euros in 2012.
Since 2012, Spain's football brilliance has begun to tail off. In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil they failed to get out of their group stage after losing to both Chile and the Netherlands and in Euro 2016 the side lost 2-0 to Italy in the quarter-finals.
In the current World Cup competition, the Spain that takes on Russia in the round-of-16 on Sunday lacks the shine of the Euro winners who lifted the cup ten years ago today.