“You don’t win the silver, you lose the gold”
012: Final – Italy vs Spain
- Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
- Date: Sunday, 1 July
- Kick-off: 19:45 BST
“There’s no use going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. We want to go home with this cup.” – said a certain Andrea Pirlo whose Italy is up against Andres Iniesta’s Spain in the Euro 2012 final. Much has been said about Spain reaching the final but not many gave the Azzuri a chance until they defeated Germany in the semi-final. It will be interesting to see whether Andres Iniesta or Andrea Pirlo comes on top in this encounter, who were undoubtedly, the best players this tournament so far.
Italy is one of the most successful footballing nations with four World Cup wins and one Euro win, winning their last World Cup in 2006 and last and maiden Euro in 1968. Whereas, Spain‘s only World Cup win came in 2010 and their latest Euro win (2 wins) came in 2008 under Luis Aragones.
- Head-to-head, Italy has the better record against Spain. Italy and Spain are facing each other for the 31st time in their history. The Azzurri have 10 wins and Spain have 8, while there have been 12 draws.
- Cesare Prandelli’s Italy is unbeaten against Spain. They have won one, a 2-1 victory in August 2011 and the other a 1-1 draw in their opening group game in the Euro 2012.
- Italy are the only side to have never trailed at any point during Euro 2012. They have taken the lead 4 out of 5 times in this Euro’s while the 5th being a 0-0 stalemate against England.
- Italy are unbeaten against Spain at major tournaments (penalties shoot-outs excluded), with three wins and four draws. This includes this Euro’s 1-1 draw when Antonio Di Natale had opened the scoring and later when Cesc Fabregas had levelled.
- This is Italy‘s ninth major tournament final. In the previous 8 they have won 5.
- Key players:
- Andrea Pirlo – Has been Italy‘s best player in this tournament. Class apart.
- Mario Balotelli – He could win the the cup single handedly for both the teams, but if he repeats semi-final performance, it’s Italy‘s cup this time around.
- Possible starting XI: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio, Montolivo, Cassano, Balotelli. ?
- Spain will become the first team to retain the European Championship trophy if they beat Italy. Going by history, it’s a tough task.
- Spain have the best defensive record at Euro 2012 with only one goal conceded. Italy will have to be at their attacking best to this this Spanish defense.
- 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 and the first ever coach to win the ‘treble’ – World Cup, European Championship and a UEFA Champions League.
- Key players:
- Andres Iniesta: Spain‘s best player so far this tournament, scorer of the World Cup winning goal in the final in 2010.
- Fernando Torres: Unlikely to start, but we could be surprised as the last time Spain played the Euro final, there was only one man on the scoresheet. His name was Fernando Torres.
- Possible starting XI: Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas.
Not many games in football are bigger than this. It’s the battle between two best sides of this tournament. It’s the battle between two best players of this tournament. It’s the battle between two sides with most shots at Euro 2012. It’s Italy vs Spain.
My Prediction: Italy 2-1 Spain.