In the Group B vs Group C semi-final encounters, Germany and Portugal were eliminated thereby making the final an all-group C affair. Defending champions Spain take on dark horses Italy in the eagerly anticipated Euro 2012 final at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. This is only the fourth time in the Euro that two teams of the same group have gone all the way to the finals. The two teams met each other in the quarter-final of the previous edition. After neither team failed to score in that tense encounter, Spain progressed to the semis on penalties and went on to become the eventual champions.
Spain’s defence has been tight and cohesive through-out the competition, having conceded only one goal. Curiously, Italy are the only team to have scored against Spain in the tournament. Antonio di Natale’s goal in the opening match secured a draw for the Blues and ended Spain’s fifteen match winning streak. Iker Casillas’ safe pair of hands has saved many a match for the La Roja and he would be expected to deliver on Sunday.
Spain never really faced any difficulties until the semis where they met Portugal, who nearly halted their ambitious quest to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments. The game ended in a 0-0 draw after ninety minutes and neither team broke the deadlock in extra time too. In a nervy penalty shoot-out, Spain prevailed over their Iberian neighbours and now have one last hurdle to cross to attain eternal glory.
Under the calm and composed Cesare Prandelli, the Italians have put all the match-fixing controversies behind and concentrated only on the game. Few would have expected the Azzurri to defeat the Germans, who were on a rampage. But Prandelli’s boys had other plans and they demolished the Germans 2-1. Balotelli’s double in the first half put things beyond Germany’s reach and Ozil’s penalty in injury time only reduced the margin of defeat.
Ramos and Pique would be expected to neutralize the Man City forward and stop the Italians on the counter. Italy would most likely play a waiting game, well aware that Spain would dominate possession. Prandelli would factor in Spain’s woes in the striking department while selecting his playing eleven. His counterpart, Vincent del Bosque still seems to be undecided about who will lead his attack, thanks to David Villa’s injury. While Torres started as the striker in a few games, mid-fielder Fabregas led from the front against Portugal.
Maggio returns to the Italian squad after he was suspended for the game against Germany. Balotelli, who has vowed to score four goals in the final, has hit form at the right time and would want to make his presence felt.
Spain’s probable lineup (4-3-3): Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba, Xavi, Alonso, Busquets, Iniesta, Fabregas, David Silva.
Italy’s probable lineup (4-1-3-2): Buffon, Maggio, Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci, Pirlo, De Rossi, Montolivo, Marchisio, Cassano, Balotelli.
Match time: 14:45 pm CET on July 01, 2012
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Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.