After a two-year qualifying process involving 204 nations, and another month of almost non-stop football, there was poetic justice. For it was Spain, a team admired for its commitment to a collective brand of soccer, and winner of the fair play award, which won the World Cup.
After adopting the euro, the Spanish economy initially benefited from sharply lower interest rates, spurring a property bubble. However, with the onset of the global financial crisis, property prices collapsed, causing widespread layoffs, and pushing unemployment to more than 26 per cent by the end of 2012. Spain received a bank bailout from the European Central Bank in 2012.