Gianluigi Buffon feels that Italy were outclassed in the final of Euro 2012 as Spain cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory.
The Juventus goalkeeper believes the difference in class between the two sides was obvious, and stressed the match was never a real contest.
“Tonight, there was no contest, they were too superior – so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative,” Buffon said to Rai Sport.
“It’s ended badly because we faced a great team who deserved to win. Sometimes in life you need to be able to accept defeat and compliment opponents who were better.
“They have a lot of players who are accustomed to playing certain types of games, important games like the final of a European Championship.
“I think at the start we paid for this because we were not the same Italy as we have been. We have nothing to complain about. Spain were the better team and we congratulate them.”
Giorgio Chiellini added that Italy were on the edge of exhaustion after a long campaign, but admitted Spain were deserved winners.
“We’re sorry because we hoped to win and end the tournament in another way. We were tired, very tired, and the injuries show that. Some of our players on the pitch could hardly walk,” the defender said.
“In the end we have to congratulate Spain. They deserved to win and tonight they proved to be better than us. When Thiago Motta got injured we were down to ten men but they’d almost closed the game out in the first 60 minutes with their ball possession.
“Then in the last half-hour they exploded, thanks in part to having more players.
“Everyone’s sad about the loss, but it can’t erase a tournament in which we played well and we dreamt with millions of Italians. In my opinion that has to be the starting point for our future.”
Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci was disappointed with the loss, but looked back at Euro 2012 with pride.
“It’s hard, because we believed we could do it. If we had succeeded in bringing onto the pitch what has been our trademark here – our desire to pass the ball around and create openings – for sure we would have been here talking about another kind of result,” the Juventus man said.
“But they deserved to win and we give them credit. Once again Spain have shown that they are one or two steps above anyone else. I think that today in general we were unlucky in everything: from the goals we conceded to the players we lost to injury.
“It was just a negative night. We’ll take away the experience we’ve gained in this tournament, which has been positive, because we had the desire to play football. From here we need to start again.”