Euro 2012 Championship: Spain vs. Italy

Euro 2012 Championship: Spain vs. Italy

Euro 2012 Championship: Spain vs. Italy
By Ryan Stetson
Covers.com

About Spain

FIFA ranking:
No. 1

While Spain has taken some heat for what’s being described as a boring style of play, there’s no doubt it has been effective. With five and sometimes six players trading passes in midfield, Spain has worn down their opponents and capitalized when teams become impatient.

There’s no secret about Spain’s game plan, but that doesn’t make it any easier to play against. Vicente del Bosque’s crew is aiming to become the first team to repeat as European champions.

It seems likely that striker Fernando Torres will begin the final on the bench again as Vicente del Bosque opts to use Cesc Fabregas as the lone attacking midfielder.  However, if Spain ends up trailing early, Torres may come on earlier than normal.

Scoring against Italy’s back four and keeper Gigi Buffon isn’t going to be easy, so Spain will need to make the most of the chances they can create.  However, if the game goes to extra time, Spain has had an extra 24 hours to recover and prepare for the final, which could be a deciding factor.

About Italy

FIFA ranking:
No. 12

Ever since midfielder Daniele de Rossi sent a long shot crashing off the post early in Italy’s match with England, the Azzurri have looked extremely dangerous.

They dominated possession and play to put England away and then Mario Balotelli took over to score twice to help Italy shock Germany. Up until the semifinal win, Italy was flying under the radar. Now, everyone knows how dangerous they can be.

With Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield, Balotelli transforming from goat to hero in the span of a few weeks, and Buffon handling every chance that manages to get through Italy’s back four, there’s hard to find flaws in the Azzurri’s form right now.

The telling factor of the game may end up being how patient Italy is defending without the ball. If they begin to get pulled out of possession, chasing Spain in midfield, they could be in major trouble. If they keep their shape, we might need penalties to decide the match.

Tactics and formations

Spain likely isn’t going to use a striker unless they’re desperate for goals, so expect a 4-6-0 formation again with Fabregas as the primary attacking midfielder.
Possible lineup: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta

Italy won’t make any major changes after their 4-3-1-2 formation frustrated Germany in the semifinal upset.
Possible lineup: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, Balzaretti, Marchisio, Pirlo, De Rossi, Montolivo, Balotelli, Cassano

He said it

"We have not won anything yet. [Not to win] would be like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope,” – Italy’s Andrea Pirlo.

"There is no favourite for the final. Italy have been world champions four times, so we cannot talk about a favourite. It is a final and it will be fifty-fifty." – Spain manager Vicente del Bosque.

Super stats

- Spain has just two non-penalty goals in the last 300 minutes of play.
- Italy are the only side who have never trailed at any time during Euro 2012.
- Italy and Spain have had the most shots in the tournament at 99 and 86 respectively.
- Spain has faced just one shot on target in the last two games.

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