This evening as I was watching Spain play themselves into the history books, I was taken by the epic scope and beauty of their first strike. At the time I wasn’t paying close enough attention, but it appeared to me that the goal scored by David Silva, originated deep in Spanish Territory. I had been taken by the raking cross-field pass by Xabi Alonso, which was a pivotal and eye-catching part of the build up, but I wasn’t sure where it had all started.

Fortunately I was able to look at a replay on the internet and discover the full story of this epoch defining goal. Yep, I said epoch defining. I won’t apologise, I admire this Spanish side that much.

If I wished to write a book on the subject of this goal, I could get altogether melodramatic and write an opening chapter on General Franco. If it were a thesis, I would most likely begin with Cruyff. An article, would begin with the pressure being exerted on this fine and only recently lauded Italian side. But this a blog post, written at 2am, on a school night, so I will start at the only beginning that really matters.

It begins with a rather aimless and uncharacteristic punt forward by the Italian defender, Leonardo Bonucci. He wasn’t being pressed particularly hard, but there weren’t many obvious options open to him. He was striding from his own box and possibly he could have found Andrea Pirlo to his left. Instead, he tried to hit a striker with a long ball.

His pass went directly to Iker Casillas, in the Spanish goal, or in the interests of accuracy, went directly to Casillas who was patrolling the edge of his box. The time elapsed was 12.45. He rolled the ball, to Sergio Ramos, about ten metres outside and slightly to the left of the box. Ramos, controlled the ball, turned and passed it to Xabi Alonso, a further 15 metres up the pitch. As Alonso was immediately pressed, he returned the ball directly to Ramos. He took one touch and then passed it further left, to Jordi Alba, who was just over half-way between his box and the half-way line, hugging the side-line.

Alba dribbled the ball to the half-way line, still hugging the side-line. Finding himself closed down, he turned and passed back to Alonso, who was more or less in the same position Alba had been when he had received the ball from Ramos.

Alonso, from his position close on the left side-line, hit a diagonal (approximately a 50 plus metres pass, I’m poor at judging such distances) pass to Alvaro Arbeloa, who was about half-way between the half-way line and the Italian box, ten metres in from the right side-line.

Arbeloa controlled the ball instantly, as is the Spanish way. At this point there were seven Italian outfield players in the Italian half. Of these, three were ahead of Arbeloa, who immediately passed infield to David Silva. Who again, almost immediately passed to Andres Iniesta, who was to his left. Iniesta with is first touch returned the ball to Silva and continued towards the Italian box.

At this point in the sequence, the ball is half way between the centre circle and the Italian box, more or less dead centre. The Italian back four are set and their middle four look like they are in the positions they should be in. This is a little deceptive, as the control being exerted by Spain in this passing movement and the pace of that control means they have a momentum, which we shall see later in the sequence, is irresistible.

Silva then passes out to Arbeloa on the right, who is now about ten metres closer to the corer of the Italian box, still near the side-line. Arbeloa then passes in-field to Xabi, who passes a few metres in front of him to Iniesta, who has doubled back on himself. Iniesta turns and spots that Cesc Fabregas is making a run into the box, to Iniesta’s right. Iniesta, when he passes is again half-way between the center circle and the Italian box. Fabregas receives the ball, in the Italian box, midway between the small and large squares, to the left of the Italian keeper.

The Italians are still in their two banks of four and look like they are set, but not once since Alonso’s pass into their half, have they gotten close enough to the ball to make a tackle. They are not even in a position to hurry whatever Spanish player is in possession.

Iniesta to Fabregas is the thirteenth pass in this movement. It has started in the Spanish box and is now with Fabregas, receiving the ball, on the run, in the Italian box. Here finally an Italian defender gets within shouting distance of the ball. Fabregas takes it to the end-line and cuts the ball back.

Here the Italian defense can possibly be criticized. I would contend however, that Iniesta’s pass and the speed at which Fabregas used the ball, meant that the Italian defenders were turned and chasing back, thus were unable to track the simple run of Silva. He, a rather small player, ran down the centre of the Italian box, between two Italian defenders, and met the crossed ball from Fabregas. He headed the ball from the line of the small box, to the far corner, his left. The ball having come from his right.

Nine different Spanish players touched the ball, in this sequence of fourteen passes. Silva’s goal was clocked at 13.21, 36 seconds after Casillas had gathered the ball in his own area. It is, to my mind a perfect goal. The only real Italian mistake was giving the ball away so cheaply and needlessly in the first place.

Once given away however, they were never allowed the opportunity to take it back and once Alonso had changed the point of attack so dramatically, the Italians, while appearing prepared, were never quiet in this game i.e. that game the Spanish were playing for those 36 seconds. A game where only a Spanish mistake could have prevented the Spanish from winning. A game which defines this Spanish side. A game of short and long passes, of incisive passes, of controlling passes, of good runs and of ball retention. Of domination and of finishing.

36 seconds of total football. It is epic.