Concise analysis there and very true. I cant expand on it as you have put it very well! Just to perhaps add on a little note do you think with Spain that Iniesta is the key man for Spain? He seemed to create a lot of space for Spain when they were on the attack and moved quite fluidly on the pitch during the game. Zidane was a player in the same mould was he not?The Euros, which started out as the European Nations Championship in 1960 was first seen as a major competition in 1972. In that final in Wembley, which saw West Germany beat the Soviet Union 3-0, it was evident that the German team was a bit special. One tends to think of German teams of the time as being somewhat mechanical and efficient rather than a team containing players with the capacity for breath-taking brilliance but that team contained Paul Breittner and Günther Netzer. Netzer was simply amazing and was a midfielder in a class of his own. Anybody who saw him in that final was really privileged. He was also an extremely intelligent individual and was a mass of contradictions. He played for a great Borussia Moenchengladbach team in the early 70s and when he indicated that he was moving to Real Madrid at the end of the 1972-73 season, he was put on the bench for the German Cup final. With the score tied at the beginning of the second period of extra time, he substituted himself without the manager knowing about it and promptly scored the winner. He was also a clever businessman. He was real tabloid photo material with his flowing blonde hair and was often photographed with models yes has been married to the same woman since he was 21. He owned a chain of bars in the Hamburg-Bremen area yet never touched alcohol until he retired from professional football. He had a Ferrari parked outside a nightclub he owned before he took the driving test. Nowadays he is a multi-millionaire businessman who bought and sold the television rights for the last two World Cups. Clever boy.
Ajax did not so much as export the idea, as you say fluffy, as Cruyff implementing it in Barcelona. Times change and this Spanish team play a different way to the Dutch team of the 1970s because football has developed since then. The philosophy is the same but the implementation is different because it has to adapt to the changes elsewhere since the 1970s. But there are several constant principles in both, the most important of which are retention of possession and comfort on the ball. To look at Ireland and England was to look at football from the stone age, both teams extremely uncomfortable on the ball , treating it as an enemy and both teams giving possession away cheaply. The English Premier League is, in my opinion, one of the worst in Europe and I would only pay money to see Arsenal or Swansea. The Swansea v Arsenal match last season which Swansea won 3-2 was, in my opinion, technically the best match of the entire season. But I ask you, is there anything worse than watching a match between Stoke and Blackburn????
You are right in saying Spain had the technical skills but it had brought them the European Nations Cup as it was then in 1964 when this competition was not important. Other than that, Spain has always underachieved. But the changes brought to Barca by Cruyff, van Gaal and Rijkaard, developed further by Guardiola, has given Spain the nucleus of a great national team. That is it Barca football, which is Cruyff's football which Spain play, is a slap in the face for that dreadful fraud Mourinho, whose tactics I find even worse than van Maarwijk's. Real Madrid's players have to play Barca football to get into the team. Alonso does this brilliantly and Casillas is a goalkeeper but the rest must wonder at times.
The evolution, in my opinion, is the use of space created between the halfway line and the opponents penalty area. The Dutch team of the 70s did not develop this to the extent that this Barcelona/Spanish team has. Barcelona/Spain use the full extent of the geometrical potential, varying the rate of passing, velocity of passes, the number of players in movement at any given time and the number of options available to the player in possession. Because the player in possession is, in this system, one of the three main midfield players (Iniesta, Alonso/Messi, Xavi)it requires the "striker" (Villa) to drag the defence all over the place to create the space necessary for this to flourish. Without this space, Barca/Spain are posed a problem. Chelsea managed it against Barca (with tons of luck) and Portugal managed it against Spain in the semi-final to an extent. Torres does not fit into this Spanish team in that he is totally different to David Villa. But I wrote about Torres earlier and I consider him to be a great team player.
The evolution therefore, in my opinion, fluffy, is in the creation of space, the use of space and the much greater exploitation of the geometrical possibilities which this development affords. Spain have taken total football to a new level. So it is an evolution, not a revolution.