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We don't want another Chelsea.. this has to be beautiful
Posted Saturday, June 09, 2012 by Dailymail

Call it the Chelsea effect. When Thiago Motta, Italy's uncompromising central midfield player, was asked to discuss his team's intentions before their first group game against Spain on Sunday, he did not sweat the niceties.

 'We must win,' said Motta. 'Good football is optional. If we play good football, great, but it doesn't matter. Italy have won in the past with catenaccio. The right mentality is what counts.'

We don't want another Chelsea.. this has to be beautiful
By any means: Thiago Motta tackles Mario Balotelli in training

And, in that short reply, laid bare is the battle that will rage at this European Championship. It is a struggle for the heart and soul of football, an attempt to define what it means to be a true champion  and whether beauty remains an essential factor. It is a debate that stretches back to the moment the first tactics board was carried into a changing room or the first time a game was won on the counter-attack but it has been brought into sharp relief by the approach of the current European champions.

What will be discovered over the next three weeks is the extent to which Chelsea have changed football.

 An ideological revolution was supposed to be Barcelona's legacy. Pep Guardiola and the graduates of La Masia academy were going to usher in a new age in which small was beautiful and tiki-taka was the Holy Grail of every coach. Barca's style and methods would be revered and imitated worldwide and football would evolve once more into a sophisticated game of passing and movement until the next technical update came along.

 It didn't quite happen like that. Turns out it is a lot easier to stop a team playing like Barcelona than it is to get a team playing like Barcelona.

 There are odd exceptions, such as the Swansea City team produced by Brendan Rodgers, but Barcelona have depressingly few imitators, despite being the finest club side in the world. They were not even able to retain their European crown in its Champions League format, despite two attempts.

 Those that thwarted them, Inter Milan and Chelsea, simply refused to scale the same heights of aesthetic ambition and it is their methods that are now more widely referenced.

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    Rank Team W/D/L Pts

    Cities & Stadiums

    The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments

    Year Winners Runner-up Third place
    2008SpainGermanyRussia / Turkey
    2004GreecePortugalNetherlands / Czech Republic
    2000FranceItalyNetherlands / Portugal
    1996GermanyCzech RepublicFrance / England
    1992DenmarkGermanyNetherlands / Sweden
    1988NetherlandsSoviet UnionItaly / West Germany
    1984FranceSpainDenmark / Portugal
    1980West GermanyBelgiumCzechoslovakia
    1976CzechoslovakiaWest GermanyNetherlands
    1972West GermanySoviet UnionBelgium
    1964SpainSoviet UnionHungary
    1960Soviet UnionYugoslaviaCzechoslovakia