Euro 2012 Final: The Preview
- Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
- Date: Sunday, 1 July
- Kick-off: 20:45
Tonight’s Euro 2012 Final in Ukraine puts two teams from the same group against each other. Spain and Italy have had very different thoroughfare to the final. They met in the group stage, 1 -1 the final score. The two giants face up again in a hotly anticipated duel. Who will be crowned kings of Europe?
Reigning European and World champions Spain should start as favourites again. Facing the dark horse team of Italy, led in attack by Mario Balotelli and veteran midfielder Andreas Pirlo. Spain having the experience and star power to overcome France and Portugal in their pursuit through the knockout stages; has pedigree. They’re hoping to create the stuff of legends. Certainly supporters back home with all the economic turmoil could use the lift.
Strangely the team running out for Spain has been devoid of a striker for much of the tournament, Fernando Torres being omitted for a formation lead be a trio of midfielders with Cesc Fabregas the most forward. Tonight’s team, whatever it is will be consisting of what remains one of the best overall first elevens in the tournament. Spain’s play has however been called boring and safe.
The Italian dream continues. A squad given almost no hope of attaining any success has pushed and kicked its way into their (number of finals). By no means do their chances stand at zero. The host of stars and collective effort make Italy a great threat. The form of senior players such as Antonio Cassano, Daniel De Rossi and keeper Gigi Buffon compliments well with the brilliant natural ability of Mario Balotelli.
I like Spain for the victory, recent history on their side, but can’t help but want Italy to reign supreme. They are the dark horses and what a fairy-tale story it would be. That said, this is football you never know what going to happen.
Pregame stats for your perusal:
- Spain are unbeaten in 11 European Championship finals matches, a new record. Their last loss in the competition was the 1-0 reverse to Portugal at Euro 2004.
- They have kept nine consecutive clean sheets in knockout games at major tournaments.
- Iker Casillas has had to deal with just one shot on target in Spain’s two knockout games at Euro 2012 – that was a free-kick from France’s Yohan Cabaye. In total, the Spanish captain has made 12 saves so far – six of them against Italy in the opening game.
- Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla could both make their eighth European Championship appearance as a substitute, which would be a new record.
- The last time Spain failed to win a match after opening the scoring was on 6 September 2006, when they lost 3-2 away to Northern Ireland in a Euro 2008 qualifier despite Xavi netting first.
- Vicente Del Bosque could become only the second coach to win the World Cup and European Championship, after West Germany’s Helmut Schön in 1972 and 1974
- The Azzurri have reached the final of eight World Cups or European Championships.
- Italy won their only European Championship in 1968, winning a final replay 2-0 against Yugoslavia at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. The first match, held two days earlier, ended 1-1.
- The Azzurri also reached the final of Euro 2000, losing 2-1 to France, for whom David Trezeguet scored a golden goal.
- Cesare Prandelli’s men have won only two of their last eight games (excluding shoot-outs).
- The Italians have been involved in eight goalless draws at European Championship finals – more than any other side.
- Uefa statistics show Italy have attempted 97 shots (including blocked efforts), more than any other side at Euro 2012
What they say about the final
“We haven’t done anything yet, as it would be like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. We are in the final, but we need the victory.” – Italy’s Andrea Pirlo .
“Italy and ourselves have lived parallel lives and now we have to be at the level that a final demands.” – Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.
“We won the league at Manchester City so having a good season for me doesn’t depend on winning the Euros,” – Italy striker Mario Balotelli .
“We need to win, that much is obvious. If we do it, it’ll be historic, but we still have to improve on a few things.” – Spain midfielder David Silva .
“Spain are the favourites in terms of experience and consistency, but we are in there.” – Italy coach Cesare Prandelli .