But for the past four years Spain have bossed the world of football with a mixture of flair, imagination and deadly finishing.
Vicente del Bosque's team will attempt to make history this week by becoming the first-ever national team to win three-consecutive major tournaments, following on from their success at the 2010 World Cup and at Euro 2008.
The Spaniards would also be the first Europeans tosuccessfully defend their title.
Portugal have been handed the task of putting that ambition to the sword when the two teams meet in Donetsk on Wednesday night, and former Northern Ireland internationalist and Spanish TV pundit Gerry Armstrong has warned that Spain may not get it all their own way.
The Portuguese know all about Spain because seven of their squad play their club football in the Spanish league with Cristiano Ronaldo – the man who could really make the difference.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento also has local knowledge of Spanish football, having himself played as a defender for Oviedo between 1996 and 2000. But it is Ronaldo who Armstrong expects to be the key man on the pitch.
"I have watched Ronaldo win games single-handedly for Real Madrid," he said. "He can do that – he has tremendous ability.
"He also has the added advantage of knowing many of his Spanish opponents inside out. He is slagged off at times for having a big ego and for all the pomp and ceremony that goes with him. However, make no mistake about it – the boy can play.
"Of course, Spain's players will to try and put the shackles on him, but I think he will be pumped up for it.
"I don't think Portugal are a great side at the minute and I do think that Spain will make it through – but if there was going to be anyone who would put a spoke in their wheel your money would be on Ronaldo. And how he would love it."
Spain have complained about the fact they are getting two days fewer than Portugal to prepare for the semi-final, something that could be pivotal when it comes to the outcome of the match.
"I'd agree that it's a bit unfair, but during tournaments like this you always get that," said Armstrong.
"The way it will really count is if there are a couple of guys carrying any knocks or strains because there isn't much time for them to rest."
While Armstrong believes that Spain will ultimately prevail against Portugal, he is not sure how they will fare should they bump into Germany.
Like many, Armstrong has predicted a Germany v Spain final and has been blown away by the quality of the Germans. So much so, he has tipped them to steal Spain's Euro Crown.
"Spain have been slow starters and there has been a lot of surprise back home at the way in which they have lined up," he explained.
"They have good finishers in the side so to go into games with five midfielders on the pitch has been a bit odd.
"I just wonder if there has been an additional pressure on them because they have gone into the tournament as big favourites – if you look at the recent history of Spanish football that is something that is very new to them.
"But I have to say, before a ball was kicked at Euro 2012 I fancied Germany and Spain to be in the final and that is an opinion I'm sticking to.
"If it does come down to that final then I think I would maybe go for Germany. They have been outstanding so far.
"The one thing that I would say about Spain is that there seems to be a lack of belief about them and I am not sure where that is coming from, yet Germany seem to be going from strength to strength."
Chelsea's Fernando Torres made a cameo appearance against France on Saturday evening, but Armstrong has tipped him to start against Portugal.
"I've seen him playing for Chelsea this season and he's looked drained," said Armstrong.
"He has looked like a player shorn of all confidence, but he doesn't seem to carry that when he is with Spain.
"He has got two goals under his belt which has helped to relax a bit and I think he has had a good look about him. I definitely think he'll get his chance to start on Wednesday night.
"It'll be interesting to see what he can do.
"You can imagine what the interest is in this back in Spain – it's just huge, especially because Portugal have so many Spanish-based players.
"It's probably my pick of the games so far."