KIEV, Ukraine -- What's at stake when Spain meets Italy in the Euro 2012 final here on Sunday? For the Spanish, the final (ESPN/3/Deportes, 2:45 p.m. ET) provides the chance to take their place in soccer lore as one of the greatest national teams in the history of the sport. No country has ever held two European Championships and the World Cup trophy at the same time. And for all the talk of Spain winning without playing at its best, you just can't argue with three major titles in a row.
Once this tournament is set down in the history books, one of the statistics that will not so much leap off the page as run screaming out, waving its flame-licked limbs about all over the place is that by Day 11 just one penalty had been awarded. And even that was saved, Poland substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton stopping Giorgos Karagounis' effort on Day 1.
CNN's Pedro Pinto talks to Italian football journalist Tancredi Palmeri about Italy's battling performance against Spain.
Two late goals from Seydou Keita and Xavi Hernandez earned 10-man Barcelona a 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
A late goal from Eric Abidal gave Barcelona a 2-1 comeback victory in the first leg of their Spanish Cup quarterfinal clash with arch rivals Real Madrid.
They say the Ballon d'Or is democratic but it's not. Not really. A proper democratic vote surely relies on a universal, secret ballot. By contrast, one of the things that makes the Ballon d'Or vote so interesting to pick over is the fact that you can pick over it. The real fun comes after Messi and Xavi have stepped down from the podium and the list of voters and votes is handed out.
There are still those, remarkably, who ask whether tactics really matter, still those who persist with the Luddite insistence that the best players will win out come what may. No matter that Lionel Messi never produces his Barcelona form for Argentina or that Dani Alves regularly flounders for Brazil, Barcelona, these flat-earthers keep saying, win because they have the best players.
There were contrasting fortunes for the two superstars of La Liga as Lionel Messi missed an injury time penalty for Barcelona in the Nou Camp to allow Real Madrid to go top as Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a quickfire hat-trick.
Holders Barcelona made hard work of beating Czech minnows Viktoria Plzen 2-0 in their Champions League Group H clash Wednesday but need just one win to reach the knockout stages.
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of a return to his former club Barcelona when the group stage of the European Champions League kicks off on Tuesday.
Peace came via a punch up. Spain came from two goals down to win 3-2 against Chile on Sept. 2, Cesc Fàbregas scored twice to make it five goals in four matches, and Andres Iniesta was so good that one newspaper gave him four marks out of three, the Chile coach saying: "he destroyed us." But that was not the best thing that happened. The best thing that happened was a fight.
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to claim the Spanish Super Cup in an ill-tempered El Clasico clash.
Editor's note: This is Part 4 of a four-part imaginary tournament between 16 of the all-time greatest club teams in soccer history. Parts 1, 2 and 3 can be found here.
It was the perfect end for the perfect tournament, the moment that many said defined him. Thiago Alcántara saw his opportunity and took the free kick quickly, sending the ball 40 yards, beyond the goalkeeper and into the net. When the backspin on the ball was broken by the net, the score line became 2-0 to Spain and the European U-21 Championships had been secured. The Swiss goalkeeper was caught out a little off his line but the speed of thought and precision of execution still impressed; not least because the goal felt like the culmination of 10 days of wonderful soccer -- the proof that here stood a real revelation, a special talent.
Editor's note: This is Part 1 of a four-part imaginary tournament between 16 of the all-time greatest club teams in soccer history. You can find Part 2 here.
It sounds like a simple assignment: acting as general manager, assemble a soccer team featuring the best player in the world at each of the 11 positions. But as anyone who follows the sport knows, choosing that team is a complicated exercise. You want to reward the most talented individuals, of course, but you also want a coherent team. What's more, the result represents a sort of personal mission statement. How do I want to see soccer played? Is it possible in the 21st century to combine great aesthetics with winning fútbol?
Diminutive midfielder Andres Iniesta will always be remembered for scoring two of the biggest goals in the history of FC Barcelona and Spain's national team: in the 2009 Champions league and 2010 World Cup. SI.com's Richard Deitsch and María Poveda Lloret recently caught up with him:
WEMBLEY, ENGLAND -- Surely now the doubters have been won over: this Barcelona is one of the greatest teams there has ever been. In Pep Guardiola's three seasons in charge Barca has twice won the Champions League, and it was denied a hat trick that would have placed it statistically alongside the Ajax and Bayern Munich sides of the seventies only by the combined might of Jose Mourinho and an Icelandic volcano.
Barcelona's team we know; Manchester United's is a matter of speculation, a fact that, in itself, is indicative of two things. First, that Barcelona is the favorite, with such a defined and familiar style of play that, even in this age of rotation, it is possible, as with the greats of the past, to rattle through a first eleven.
Barcelona need just one point to win Spain's La Liga for the third straight year after a 2-0 win over neighbors Espanyol Sunday night.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is warning his side against complacency ahead of their Champions League return against arch-rivals Real Madrid Tuesday.
This is the third of a rapid-fire quartet of clasicos thrown up by the fixture list, and a fascinating one it is too. Barcelona thrashed Real 5-0 earlier in the season and is comfortably considered the best team in the world, but Jose Mourinho has overseen a damaging couple of weeks for Barca's self-esteem. Real came back from behind to secure a 1-1 draw in La Liga, and last week lifted the Copa del Rey thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's extra-time strike. Real's 6-3 thrashing of Valencia confirms Pep Guardiola's outfit as unfamiliar underdogs, with Andres Iniesta's absence through injury only reinforcing that.
Coach Jose Mourinho has told his Real Madrid players to heed the wisdom of Albert Einstein ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semifinal first leg against Spanish arch-rivals Barcelona.
Barcelona have launched an appeal against a UEFA proposal to ban Spanish international Andres Iniesta for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid on April 27.
Ask anybody who's done it, and they'll tell you that sustaining success is much harder than achieving it in the first place. The great Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann refused ever to spend longer than three years at a club because he felt that after that he could no longer motivate players. It may be that in the modern world of soccer in which money begets money, success is easier to sustain than previously, at least on a domestic level. On a European scale what that means is a cluster of perhaps eight or so super powers constantly battling for the Champions League, which is surely the main reason no side has successfully defended the title since the AC Milan of Arrigo Sacchi in 1990.
Barcelona took a big step towards setting up a semifinal showdown with Spanish rivals Real Madrid by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
David Villa has become the top scorer in Spanish international history after netting both goals as the world and European champions fought back from going a goal behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in Euro 2012 Group I on Friday.
Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola has agreed to stay with the Spanish champions for at least another season, the club announced on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi celebrated his second successive world player of the year award with a hat-trick as Spanish champions Barcelona crushed division two team Real Betis 5-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday night.
Lionel Messi was named World Player of the Year for the second straight year Monday, pipping Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi to the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or.
David Villa continued his remarkable scoring run against Deportivo La Coruna as Spanish champions Barcelona won 4-0 on Saturday night to move five points clear in La Liga.
Barcelona remain two points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of Spain's Primera Liga after producing another stunning performance to thrash Real Sociedad 5-0.
In the end, it was Photoshop that did them justice. All of them. It was Photoshop that made the picture complete and the message unequivocal.
After bathing in the cesspool of FIFA politics last week, I'll admit it: I wanted to hear a story that restored some credibility to the great global game of soccer. And wouldn't you know it, I found one, courtesy of Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona, an energetic Baltimore foundation and a 17-year-old high school senior from Suwanee, Ga., named Jordyn Farrell.
Barcelona trio Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi have been shortlisted for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or, the award given to the world's best footballer.
Greatness is not measured in medals alone but in style. "Great clubs," Arrigo Sacchi said, "have had one thing in common throughout history, regardless of era and tactics. They owned the pitch and they owned the ball. That means when you have the ball, you dictate play and when you are defending, you control the space."
A second-half penalty from David Villa proved enough to earn Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Rubin Kazan in Group D of the Champions League on Wednesday.
Who should win the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or for the best player of the year in world soccer?
CNN wraps up the best moments from the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
It will be an image burned forever into Spain's national consciousness: the sight of captain Iker Casillas in tears after La Roja banished decades of World Cup failure by winning their first title on Sunday night.
JOHANNESBURG -- For all the controversy and the perceived injustices, for all the bad fouls and dubious decisions, for all the aesthetic/ideological debates about Spain being boring and the Dutch being nasty (or vice versa, if you will), it came down to this:
FINAL RESULT: Spain 1-0 The Netherlands
Spain will add the World Cup to their European title by beating the Netherlands in Sunday's final, according to Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff.
Spain's World Cup campaign finally burst into life as they beat ten-man Chile to finish top of Group H and avoid a last 16 clash with tournament favorites Brazil.
Andres Iniesta could miss Spain's opening game at the World Cup after suffering a thigh injury in a warm-up match.
Barcelona will be without influential midfielder Andres Iniesta for most of the decisive run-in to the end of this season as the Catalan side seek to retain their Spanish and European titles.
Barcelona hope to welcome back Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta to their depleted team for Tuesday's second leg of the European Champions League quarterfinal against Arsenal.
OK, so since there isn't much going on in the next few months -- Champions League coming back, Copa Libertadores, domestic leagues going down to the wire and that thing we call the World Cup -- it might make sense to get a jump on what could well be one of the stories of the summer: the future of Cesc Fàbregas.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been included on the shortlist for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Cristiano Ronaldo is in the running to win the FIFA World Player of the Year for a second successive year after being named on a 23-man shortlist for this year's award.
Barcelona and Real Madrid made it two wins from two in Spain as star signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored for a second successive match for their new clubs.
It's unlikely there will be many surprises when FIFA comes to naming its World Player of the Year. At the start of the season a betting man could have safely wagered that the likes of Lionel Messi, Kaka and Andres Iniesta would be in the running, and none of them have disappointed this season.
ROME -- The Eternal City was the most appropriate of backdrops for what we witnessed on Wednesday. It was supposed to be a case of the true believers: Barcelona and its quasi-fundamentalist, possession-oriented credo thrown to the lions of Manchester United's top-to-bottom combination of strength, athleticism and quality. It was dogmatism versus pragmatism.
Barcelona fans rejoice in victory after their team defeats reigning champions Manchester United in Champions League final.
Barcelona completed an historic treble with a 2-0 win over holders Manchester United in the Champions League final in Rome on Wednesday night.
Barcelona vs. Manchester United: Chime with your thoughts on the Champions League final here
SI.com's Gabriele Marcotti breaks down Wednesday's Champions League final matchup between Manchester United and FC Barcelona (ESPN, 2:30 p.m. ET).
Barcelona duo Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta continued their respective bids to be fit for the Champions League final as they returned to training on Monday, although not at the same level as their team-mates.
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta and Manchester United central defender Rio Ferdinand gave upbeat fitness updates as they battle to be fit for Wednesday's Champions League showdown in Rome.
A stunning last-gasp strike from Andres Iniesta put 10-man Barcelona in the Champions League final on the away goals rule, giving the Catalan giants a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona restored their six-point lead at the top of the Spanish Primera with a 4-0 rout of Sevilla at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona edged closer to lifting the Primera Liga title after defeating Recreativo Huelva 2-0 at the Nou Camp to open-up a nine-point lead over Real Madrid, although the defending Spanish champions restord their six-point defecit on Sunday with their own 2-0 victory over Valladolid.
Barcelona kept up their relentless pace at the top of the Spanish Primera Liga with a 1-0 victory at Valladolid on Saturday.
Ruben de La Red and Ruud van Nistelrooy scored second-half goals on Sunday to help reigning champions Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 2-0 in the Spanish league.
Pep Guardiola finally tasted his first competitive win as Barcelona manager after his side beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 in their opening Champions League Group C match at the Nou Camp.
A first-half goal from Liverpool striker Fernando Torres proved enough to give Spain a 1-0 victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 final in Vienna, ending their 44-year wait for a major tournament success.
Dani Guiza and Ruben de la Red scored second-half goals Wednesday to rally Spain to a 2-1 win over defending champions Greece at the European Championship.
After a lackluster 2-1 win over Peru last Saturday, Spanish national-team coach Luis Aragonés is likely to make several changes when his troops face the U.S. in their final pre-European Championship warm-up on Wednesday in Santander (live on espn360.com at 4 p.m. ET; on delay on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m.).
A makeshift Barcelona side fell to a 2-0 defeat at Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday -- meaning Real Madrid now have a chance to win the Primera Liga title on Sunday if results go their way.
Barcelona moved to within four points of Spanish Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid by beating Valladolid 4-1, while Real crashed to a 3-2 home defeat by cup finalists Valencia.
Barcelona's hopes of overhauling Spanish league leaders Real Madrid were severely damaged when Kalu Uche headed an 85th minute goal to give Almeria a 2-2 draw at the Estadio del Mediterráneo on Sunday.
A Lionel Messi double secured a 3-2 Champions League victory for Barcelona at Celtic to put the Catalan giants in the driving seat for the last-16 return leg at the Nou Camp in a fortnight.
Villarreal held Barcelona to a goalless draw on Thursday night in the first leg of their Spanish Cup quarterfinal.
Real Madrid hero Raul Gonzalez scored twice in a 3-1 home win over Racing Santander which saw them extend their lead in the Spanish title race to four points.
Second-placed Barcelona kept up the pressure on Spanish leaders Real Madrid with a 3-0 win at home to Recreativo Huelva on Saturday.
Barcelona opened their Champions League campaign with a commanding 3-0 victory at home to Lyon, scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes at the Nou Camp.
Spain were four minutes away from defeat by Iceland in their Group F Euro 2008 qualifier in Reykjavik when Andres Iniesta slid home an equalizer and the 1-1 draw took the Spaniards onto 16 points, level with second-placed Northern Ireland and three behind Sweden.
Barcelona have reached an agreement to sell Argentine striker Maxi Lopez to FK Moscow for two million euros ($2.70 million), the Primera Liga side has said.
Andres Iniesta and Samuel Eto'o scored second-half goals to push Barcelona closer towards a third successive Primera Liga title with a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad.
Northern Ireland surged to the top of Euro 2008 qualifying Group F after coming from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 in Belfast.
Substitute Andres Iniesta cracked a superb winner as Spain beat a toothless England 1-0 in an international friendly at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
An out-of-sorts Barcelona scrambled a barely deserved 1-1 draw at Getafe on Sunday, a result that meant Sevilla retained the Primera Liga leadership despite their 2-1 defeat at Real Zaragoza on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid's Argentine striker Sergio Aguero forced a 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Thursday leaving the European champions three points adrift of league leaders Sevilla.
Werder Bremen beat Chelsea 1-0 on Wednesday, a result that kept them firmly in the running for a place in the last 16 of the Champions League while sending Chelsea through.
Two goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen helped put Barcelona back in first place in the Primera Liga as they cruised past Real Mallorca 4-1 away on Sunday.
Liverpool's Luis Garcia and Barcelona's Andres Iniesta have withdrawn from the Spain squad to play Romania in a friendly in Cadiz on Wednesday.
After two morale-sapping defeats in Euro 2008 qualifiers, Spain salvaged some measure of pride with an impressive 2-1 win at home to Argentina in a friendly international on Wednesday.
Barcelona got the defense of their Champions League crown off to a dream start when they blew away debutants Levski Sofia 5-0.
Liverpool striker Fernando Morientes has been left out of the Spain squad for the World Cup finals after coach Luis Aragones preferred to bolster his side's defense.
Spain coach Luis Aragones has included Barcelona midfielder Xavi in his 27-man squad for a World Cup get-together on May 8.
Barcelona reached the Champions League final for the first time in 12 years on Wednesday after a goalless home draw with six-times winners AC Milan sent them through 1-0 on aggregate.
Andriy Shevchenko's first half header gave AC Milan a 1-0 win over Barcelona in front of a 68,000 and moved them a big step closer to the knockout stages of the premier club competition.
Teenage midfielder Andres Iniesta netted an early goal Wednesday as Barcelona beat Second Division Levante 3-1 and reached the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on a 3-2 aggregate score.
Loading weather data ...