Following an enthralling few weeks, Euro 2012 will finally come to a conclusion this evening as Spain look to defend their title of current European Champions against Italy. Even though the Italians were an incredible 18/1 to win the tournament at the start, they have proved to be a hugely successful outfit and some are tipping Cesare Prandelli’s men for success against a Spain side who have been exceptionally indifferent.
As always, Spain approached this tournament as clear favorites having won the two previous major competitions. However, despite that tag, the Spanish have been nowhere near as convincing as usual and have tended to adopt a much more conservative approach. In fact, many people have branded Vincente del Bosque’s side as boring, as at times they have really struggled to play any penetrating football. Despite the negatives, you just cannot get away from the fact that Spain are still in superb form and the fact they have not conceded a goal in their previous nine knockout fixtures speaks volumes about their style. Moreover, having not lost a European Championship fixture since 2004, the Spanish have the chance to make history should they continue that record and notch an unprecedented third successive major tournament victory.
Italy on the other hand have been hugely impressive and after managing to draw against the Spanish in their opening game of Euro 2012, the Italians have constantly impressed. Under Cesare Prandelli, the Azzurri have ditched the title of “defensive Italy” and put together a string of attacking performances that have simply proved too much for their opponents. They were vastly superior against a favored Germany outfit in the semi-finals, while they will also take confidence from the fact that Spain haven’t beaten them in 90 minutes since 1920 in a competitive outing. On a slightly sour note, the Italian followers will know that this clash could go right to the death again, with their nation winning just two of their last eight games.
After experimenting with his team throughout Euro 2012, Vincent del Bosque now has to decide what starting eleven to put out in the final of the competition. There have been occasions where he has failed to name a striker yet after playing Alvaro Negredo in Spain’s last game, it remains to be seen whether he will change his approach. Italy also seem to have a fully fit squad to choose from, with Ignazio Abate back in contention after missing the last clash through injury. Elsewhere, despite suffering minor knocks, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli are both tipped to feature.
Even though they have not impressed through this tournament, Spain are still the favourites to lift Euro 2012. We happen to agree with the bookmakers on this occasion and while we don’t think the Spanish will complete the job in ninety minutes, we are tipping a 1-0 victory in extra time.