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 Post subject: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Euro 2012 Final
Italy are in positive mood ahead of the final, but Roger Bennett questions whether overconfidence could be an issue against Spain
Roger Bennett
June 29, 2012


Few nations can top the Italians when it comes to literary insults. The Gazzetta dello Sport waxed poetic ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2012 final clash with Spain: “We can hear the Iberian tiki-taka, but then that might just be the sound of Spanish teeth chattering.”

Surging Italian self-confidence may appear rash. Their opponents are the defending champions and have not leaked a goal in an elimination game since 2006 – a string of nine straight clean sheets. Yet the tactical entrepreneurialism the Azzurri have displayed during this campaign has their belief soaring – and their opponents concerned, as Spanish defender Sergio Ramos admitted to journalists Friday. “Italy’s flexibility is a worry,” he said.

The architect of Italy’s success is Cesare Prandelli, a dignified and proud man who comes alive during games, prowling the sideline, fine-tuning his players' positions on the field. No coach has demonstrated a finer appreciation of tactical innovation at Euro 2012, as he has freshened up formations deemed stale by popular convention and used them to bring the best out of the singular talents he has at his disposal.

In the opening group game against Spain, a prequel for Sunday’s final, Prandelli bravely sent out an untested 3-5-2 formation, inserting the rugged midfield authority of Daniele De Rossi into the heart of an experimental defence. The Spanish were kept at bay and La Gazzetta dello Sport said Prandelli’s style of play was “without fear”. He then reverted to a version of 4-4-2 to monopolise possession against England in the quarter-final.

Prandelli’s prime value is that an Italian team must be true to itself, no matter the opponent. “Win or lose,” he said ahead of a semi-final in which his team dismantled heavy favourites Germany, “Italian sides will always play football.”

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“We can hear the Iberian tiki-taka, but then that might just be the sound of Spanish teeth chattering.” Gazzetta dello Sport on Spain's mindset.


The midfield is the nerve centre of this Italian team. For the knockout games, it has been set up in a balanced diamond to provide the perfect combination of muscle and ideas, with Andrea Pirlo orchestrating, De Rossi destroying, Riccardo Montolivo harrying, and Claudio Marchisio buzzing around to slip passes to Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.

In what should be his final major tournament, Pirlo has seized star billing for good reason. Few Euro 2012 images will last longer in the memory than that of the 33-year-old Lombard joyously dictating the tempo of the game, rarely breaking out of a jog, while his luxuriant mane bounces to its own rhythm.

In both the quarters and the semis, opponents knew that stopping Pirlo meant they could stop Italy. England elected to hand the playmaker free reign, aiding and abetting his mastery. Pirlo dominated the Three Lions with such brutal precision that the Germans ignored their own 15-game winning stretch, and adjusted their formation to counter Pirlo's threat. Toni Kroos, the young midfielder they inserted, proceeded to handle his opponent like a wet bar of soap.

Cesc Fabregas, Spain’s false nine, gave a hint of La Roja’s game plan. “Pirlo is a real problem,” Fabregas said. “We will try and deal with him by deactivating Italy’s two strikers.”

If the Italian defensive and midfield units rely on an intricate understanding, the team’s striking tandem is built on unhinged talent and eccentric bravado. They had not conspired to score many goals until the semi-final, but they have demonstrated an ability to strike when it counts. Cassano uses his intelligent off-the-ball movement to stretch his opponents by peeling in off the flank. Balotelli prefers to exploit the space behind the defenders. Few strikers could have pummelled the second goal that Balotelli hit to polish off the Germans with such decapitating force.

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Claudio Marchisio got stuck in against Spain's Andres Iniesta in Group C's opener.© Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Prandelli has a big decision to make ahead of the final – whether to repeat the 3-5-2 formation with which the Azzurri originally repelled the Spaniards by conceding possession yet having numbers behind the ball to smother their opponents' ideas, or to continue with the 4-4-2 midfield diamond that, combined with a high defensive line, offered the thrust to land them in the final.

Ramos said the tactical conundrum made Spain feel like they were boxing an opponent who could switch to southpaw in the middle of a fight but believed that the Spanish would use the lessons of the opening game to their advantage. “Italy is a team that focuses on possession and speed in the counter-attack,” Ramos said. “We will learn from our mistakes [in the opening game]. They may tweak their strategy. What is important for Spain is that we stay true to our philosophy.”

The Spanish possession game is also forged in midfield, but if the Italians plan to drive up the centre of the field then Spain coach Vicente del Bosque may tweak his final line-up, empowering his team to thrive on the flanks. David Silva, who has been uncharacteristically imprecise, may be sacrificed to allow Spain to benefit from the kind of direct running Pedro or Jesus Navas injected late into the game as substitutes against the Portuguese.

Del Bosque also will have to make a critical call on the eternal “false nine versus traditional target man” decision. Alvaro Negredo was chosen over Fernando Torres, but the big man lasted less than an hour against Portugal, playing with the ease of a partygoer clad in chinos when the dress code dictated dinner jackets. If Del Bosque proceeds with his smaller, midfield-laden line-up, he can challenge Pirlo by sending Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas or Pedro to nibble around his ankles.

However, if Spain lack a target man, it may guarantee possession without securing a cutting edge. The Spaniards have needed 58 passes to manufacture a single shot at Euro 2012. At Euro 2008, the number was just 33. If the Italians replicate the high defensive line they employed in the semi-final, the Spanish may resemble a basketball team in possession before the invention of the shot clock.

That the Spanish campaign has been unfairly tarred by accusations that their pass-heavy style has become “boring” should in no way detract from the magnificence of their success. To be within touching distance of a third consecutive trophy is a legendary achievement by this squad, which has taken on all-comers and the demons of arrogance and complacency. Ramos underlined how focused his team is, but said it has been hard to prevent the memories of their 2008 and 2010 glories seeping through. “We have to remain calm to keep our motivation and spirit high,” he said, “but at the same time, we have such great memories from the World Cup victory when the country came out to greet us. This was a great feeling we would like to repeat by bringing joy to the entire nation.”

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:44 am 
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Euro 2012: Spain v Italy: a final to go down in history

Spain bid to complete a unique treble, Italy to restore their scandal-hit reputation. It is a climax this tournament deserves


Richard Williams - guardian.co.uk



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Spain and Italy have the potential to provide a memorable climax to Euro 2012 in the final in Kiev. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Spain's resplendent champions stand accused of suffocating the game. In Italy, football struggles to extricate itself from its umpteenth scandal. And yet there is an excellent chance that on Sunday night in Kiev's Olympic Stadium the two teams representing these nations will provide a contest of skill and courage to burnish the game's reputation.

This is the tournament that defies you to look away. If 20 million people tuning in to watch the drama of England playing Italy in a quarter-final seems remarkable, the figure of 12m Britons switching on for Italy's semi-final with Germany on Thursday night is astounding, particularly with Rafael Nadal on the other channel. On Sunday night the two best teams in the competition promise to provide spectators, whether in the stadium or at home, with the climax that such an entrancing championship deserves.

Two sets of desires will collide in the Ukrainian capital when the team of Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Iker Casillas meets that of Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Gianluigi Buffon. There is the yearning of Spain to cap their victories in Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup by becoming the first side to win three major tournaments in a row since Uruguay took the Olympic title – the forerunner of the World Cup – in 1924 and 1928, then added the inaugural World Cup itself in 1930. And there is Italy's fierce ambition to overcome the match-fixing scandal undermining their domestic game in order to show that in its sheer quality, their football remains capable of reaching the ultimate peaks.

"The truth is, yes, it is something we think about," Sergio Ramos, Spain's dashing defender, said on Friday, when asked about the significance of winning a third consecutive major trophy. "That's what we're playing for on Sunday. It's something that will never be surpassed as no other national team has managed it before."

Uruguayans will dispute that, but never mind. "Now we have the chance to do it," Ramos continued. "Whatever happens, Spain has already made history, but we obviously want to win this championship again after all the work this team has done. It's cost us a lot to get where we are, and now we have to show our best level against a great team."

Three weeks ago these two sides gave Euro 2012 its first outstanding match with a 1-1 draw in Gdansk. Both managers showed their courage by opting for a brand new tactical plan, previously untested. But there was nothing academic about the encounter. You did not need to know Spain's 4-6-0 from Italy's 3-5-2 to recognise that this was football of compelling intellectual and physical merits.

Since that night, layers of intrigue have been added to Spain's campaign, and a new lustre to Italy's. Are the short-passing maestros of Vicente del Bosque's team now past their unbeatable best, or will we see one more great performance from Xavi and Iniesta as they attempt to defend their title? And has Cesare Prandelli given Italy a new freedom of expression, through putting his trust in such unpredictable virtuosi as Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli, to go with their always formidable technique and defensive discipline?

There is no end to the drama inherent in this contest between the world champions of 2006 and 2010, and to the history involved. It was against Italy that Spain began their extraordinary run of 19 wins in competitive matches four years ago when, under Luis Aragonés, they eliminated Marcello Lippi's side on penalties in the quarter-finals of the European Championship in Vienna. Spain are after their third title but a win for Italy tomorrow would complete a very different triple. Totonero, Calciopoli and Calcioscommese are the key names, but they are not those of Prandelli's reserve midfielders.

Totonero was the name given to the Serie A betting scandal from which Enzo Bearzot's Azzurri were still recovering when they went to the World Cup in 1982 and triumphed thanks to the goals of Paolo Rossi, who had just returned from a two-year ban received as punishment for his alleged part in the affair. Calciopoli was the 2006 inquiry which discovered that several top clubs, including Juventus, Milan and Fiorentina, had been covertly influencing the selection of referees, an imbroglio from which Lippi's Italy emerged to fight their way to a triumph in the World Cup in Germany.

Now we have Calcioscommesse, an investigation into another betting scam throughout Italy's top four divisions, leading to long bans for such prominent figures as Beppe Signori and Cristiano Doni, the former international strikers.

The echoes roll on, like thunder approaching and receding. Earlier this month Domenico Criscito, the Zenit St Petersburg left‑back, was withdrawn from Prandelli's party after being questioned by the Calcioscommesse investigators. "He would have been under pressure which no human being could bear," Prandelli said. Leonardo Bonucci, the Juventus defender, was also named, but remained with the squad.

After this, a victory tomorrow would be added to those of 1982 and 2006 as evidence for a study into the psychology of Italy's footballers, examining the causes of their apparent need for a dark backdrop against which to perform their greatest deeds.

Italy's 54-year-old head coach won admiration when he declared that if it was necessary to withdraw the entire team from the tournament, then so be it. What Prandelli shares with Del Bosque – his senior by six years, outrageously sacked by Real Madrid a decade ago for lacking charisma – is the ability to convey the feeling that while football may be a wonderful game, and certainly worth a lifetime's dedication, it is not everything in life.

We saw on Thursday what is possible when a great coach finds a way to rid his players of their inhibitions. All Italy's finest attributes were on show in an enthralling victory over Germany, along with a sense of liberation that may soon allow Prandelli's work to bear comparison with the work of his greatest predecessors: Vittorio Pozzo, Ferruccio Valcareggi, Enzo Bearzot, Arrigo Sacchi and Lippi.

As he attempts to repeat the victory achieved by Valcareggi in 1968, his personal blend of profound humility and enlightened self-belief is deeply beguiling. "Spain are still the favourites for the final but I think they know very well now who we are and what we can do," he said on Friday. "I have always said that they are a reference point, and they are, but we can be one, too."

The shadow across Spain's campaign is altogether less serious, since it concerns nothing more than a philosophical dispute over their style of play, which is aimed at denying their opponents the use of the ball. So effectively have Spain's forwards turned attack into the most efficient form of defence that Antonio Di Natale's strike in the 61st minute of their opening match remains the only goal scored against them so far in the tournament.

Thanks to the use of social media among the more engaged football fans, the argument is being prosecuted with the fervour of the inquisitions that took place in 15th‑century Spain. Today's believers and heretics are hurling their accusations on message boards and Twitter feeds, one side claiming that we are watching the most creatively exalted team in the history of football while the other accuses them of denying the game the oxygen of dynamism and balanced competition.

Maybe the heretics are just bored by Spain's long sequence of unbroken success. That would be no more than human nature at work, exaggerated by the shortened attention spans of life in the 21st century. But it is odd to see football fans anxious to hasten the end of an era of success that, once it is over, will come to be seen as a golden age.

Spain's ball-manipulators will go down in the history of international football alongside Austria's Wunderteam, Hungary's Magical Magyars, Pele's Brazil and Holland's Cruyff-led total footballers. So make the most of them while they are still with us. And if they lose on Sunday, then let it be to an Italy playing the way Prandelli has tried to inspire, with freshness and without fear, trusting in skill and instinct, concerned only to present the best of themselves to a final that, given the ingredients and the formula, and the mutual respect between the teams, promises to take its place among the very finest.



Previous meetings

Spain 2 Italy 0 1920 Olympics

The only time Spain have been able to break down Italy at a tournament without penalties. Spain went on to finish second, behind Belgium

Spain 1 Italy 7 1928 Olympics

This is still Spain's joint-heaviest defeat, the Italians running riot in a quarter-final replay with Virgilio Levratto scoring twice

Spain 0 Italy 1 Euro 1988

Gianluca Vialli scored the goal to virtually guarantee a place in the semi-finals of Euro 88 and a 19-year-old Paolo Maldini was superb in defence

Spain 1 Italy 2 1994 World Cup

Most remembered for Mauro Tassotti's elbow on Luis Enrique, which left the Spaniard with a bloodied face. Roberto Baggio got winner after 88 minutes

Spain 0 Italy 0 Euro 2008

Cesc Fábregas scored the decisive spot kick after a dour 120 minutes. Current Azzurri players Antonio Di Natale and Daniele De Rossi missed theirs

Spain 1 Italy 1 Euro 2012

Di Natale, on as a substitute, scored for Cesare Prandelli's team after an hour, but Fábregas equalised four minutes later in a pulsating encounter

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:37 am 
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Ahead of the showpiece event in Kiev, Goal.com brings you the facts and figures related to the tournament's finale...

1 - This is the first European Championship final where both goalkeepers will be captains.

2 - If Spain win on Sunday, Vicente Del Bosque will be the second coach to guide a nation to wins in both the European Championship and World Cup. Helmut Schon led West Germany to Euro success in 1972 and a World Cup victory in 1974.

6 - The quickest goal scored in a European Championship final was netted by Spain's Jesus Pereda after six minutes in 1964.

7 - Only seven players who could feature at the final are from clubs outside Italy and Spain.

7 - There will be seven Spanish radio stations covering the final, the most of any country in the world.

10 - Portugal's Pedro Proenca will referee Sunday's final and has handed out 10 yellow cards and no red cards in the tournament so far.

15 - Italy have received 15 yellow cards during Euro 2012, the most out of any team in the tournament.

17 - Alvaro Arbeloa has been fouled 17 times during Euro 2012, the most out of any player in the tournament.

27 - The average age of Spain's squad is 27.

28 - The average age of Italy's squad is 28.

31 - There are 31 cameras capturing the action inside the Olympic Stadium for the final.

55 - Italy have hit 55 shots on target, the most out of any side in the tournament

92.8 - Xavi's pass completion rate is 92.8 per cent, the highest out of any player who will feature in the final.

120 - Gianluigi Buffon will earn his 120th cap for Italy if he plays in the final.

137 - Buffon still trails his opposite number Iker Casillas, who is set to make his 137th appearance for Spain.

164 - Italy forward Sebastian Giovinco is the smallest player at Euro 2012 at 164 centimetres tall.

180 - The average height of Spain's squad is 180 centimetres.

181 - The average height of Italy's squad is 181 centimetres.

200 - The final will be broadcast in over 200 countries.

455 - Xavi has completed 455 passes - the most of any player at the tournament.

682 - McDonald's have sent 682 mascots to Euro 2012.

2,000 - Adidas have provided 2000 match balls for the tournament.

3,568 - The cost of one central lower-tier ticket for the final is €3,568.

40,000 - Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo owns a wine company, Pratum Coller, which sells over 40,000 bottles a year.

68,055 - There will be 68,055 people inside Kiev's Olympic Stadium for the final.


Back of the net | After a narrow knock-out round, Sunday's final will be tight

582,810 - Spain's players have covered a combined total of 582,810 metres at Euro 2012.

605,020 - Italy's players have covered a combined total of 605,020 metres at Euro 2012.

1,000,000 - Nearly one million people worldwide have purchased Spain's replica Adidas shirt in 2012.

1,000,000 - Carlsberg expect to pour 1 million cups of beer during the 15-minute half-time period at the Olympic Stadium and across the various fan parks and other public viewing areas in Kiev.

1,190,000 - Kiev has already seen 1.19 million people visit its Euro 2012 fanzone during the tournament.

1,320,000 - The combined attendance for each Euro 2012 match has reached 1.32 million.

18,000,000 - Spanish viewing figures are expected to top 18 million for Sunday's final.

25,000,000 - In the UK, betting is expected to see an industry-wide total of £25m wagered on the final.

250,000,000 - Uefa expect 250 million viewers worldwide to watch Sunday's final.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:48 am 
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'For once Spain look beatable' - Maradona

The Argentina legend believes that the Azzurri can end La Roja's dominance in the final of Euro 2012 on Sunday night and described Mario Balotelli as "a world-star striker"



By Ed Aarons - goal.com



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Diego Maradona - Al Wasl - Getty Images


Argentina legend Diego Maradona has opined that Spain have not looked an unbeatable force at Euro 2012 and he feels Italy are in with a chance of winning the final in Kiev on Sunday evening.

The Azzurri's shock semi-final victory over Germany on Thursday has set up a mouth-watering clash between Cesare Prandelli's side and the reigning champions.

La Roja are favourites to make it an unprecedented three successive victories in major tournaments but Maradona expects an Italy side inspired by playmaker Andrea Pirlo to severely test their credentials.

"Who wins control of the midfield will win this game," he wrote in his column in the Times of India.

"For once the Spanish team look beatable, as the Italians are feeling confident and inspired. But don’t discount the pride of world champion players like [Andres] Iniesta, [Iker] Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, [Sergio] Ramos and their desire to win an unprecedented third national tournament in a row.

"As is fitting, the teams that have played the best football in the tournament have reached the final in Kiev. Now only one game is left. May the best team win."

Two goals from Mario Balotelli against the Germans has given the Manchester City striker the opportunity to win the Euro 2012 Golden Boot if he can find the net one more time. And Maradona believes the 21-year-old has finally come of age.

He said: "Against Germany a world-star striker emerged in the form of Mario Balotelli. Nobody doubted his ability or size, but many criticised his maturity.

"Against Germany, Super Mario demonstrated that he has arrived on the world stage. Served by a brilliant pass by Cassano he scored with his head. Served by a 50 yard pass by Montolivo he beat German captain Lahm, to score a terrifying goal of power and accuracy.

"At last Italy have found a true striker. What a difference a goalscorer can make."

Spain have conceded just one goal so far in Euro 2012 - Antonio di Natale's effort during the Group C clash with the Azzurri. Yet Maradona expects the effects of a marathon domestic season to finally catch up with Vicente del Bosque's side and argues that the Italians should be much fresher.

"Big tournament finals are tense, tight affairs, where each tired and hurting player has to lift his game to levels of excellence never reached before," he explained.

"That said many of the Italian players, from teams like Juventus, Udinese, Roma and Man City, who didn’t play the Champions League all the way, seem fresher than the weary Spanish champions, whose season never seems to end."

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:43 pm 
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LET'S RUMBLE!!!

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:49 pm 
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Seven Juve players in the starting XI for Italy.

:cool: !

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idontfeardeath wrote: Nevermind. It's not like he's going to make the Juve starting 11. :lol:
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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:02 pm 
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Spain dominating this so far.

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idontfeardeath wrote: Nevermind. It's not like he's going to make the Juve starting 11. :lol:
Spawny wrote: Tata Paul. Enjoy Juve's reserve team, but at least the weather will be nicer.

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Manchester United fans look away now: Paul Pogba has been crowned the best young player in Europe.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:34 pm 
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Yep, only one team in it. And what a pass for the second. Sublime. :)

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:38 pm 
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Footballing excellence - and that is not an overstatement.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:47 pm 
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Shame - game was good at 2-0 and then Motta had to do his hammies the MUG! Anyway Italy played wella nd 4-0 was undeserved, but Spain did deserve the win despite that (could've been 2-1 to them 0.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:08 pm 
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Nothing boring about that from Spain.


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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:22 pm 
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Hopefully put an end to that endlessly regurgitated crap about their lack of a striker too.

Nominal roles ascribed to players are meaningless when you have a team full of players of this much ability.

Brilliant performance.


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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:10 pm 
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It paid off for them tonight, but for the best part of the tournament it's been dire watching them.

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idontfeardeath wrote: Nevermind. It's not like he's going to make the Juve starting 11. :lol:
Spawny wrote: Tata Paul. Enjoy Juve's reserve team, but at least the weather will be nicer.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:13 pm 
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The Motta injury killed the game and it was a shame as Italy were forced to pretty much throw in the towel rather than try to have a go.

They're not the most entertaining but they are the best and you can't argue with in they've scored the most goals and conceeded the least.

Can they make it 4 in Brazil?

What's worrying is i believe that Spain are euro champions at U21, U19 & U17 level


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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:15 pm 
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So Spain make history with the treble.

Men against boys in this final tonight. Only saw the highlights, but Italy were lucky to get nil. A pity, 'cause nearly everybody I know was supporting Italy tonight - including me.

Not a lot you can do about four goals of that quality though.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:26 pm 
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Italy played well tbf - it was like the game we beat Arsenal 8-2. Italy had decent chances to score when it was still 2-0 (Di Natale really had 2 chances and a chance to assist and flubbed hs lines all 3 times) and they were in the game right up to Motta going off. Once that happened though it was downhill. Fair play to them they didn't retreat either but it would have kept the score down if they had!

One of those games where the score doesn't tell teh real story. but Spain were still the better team.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
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Three and easy for four-star Spain

Spain made history in Kiev after beating Italy 4-0 in Sunday's Euro 2012 final to become the first side to win three consecutive tournaments.




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Spain: Crowned Euro 2012 champions

The sensational Spaniards trampled all over those boring jibes and marched straight into the history books with a magnificent performance.

First-half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba and late efforts from substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata confirmed La Roja as the first team to record three successive major tournament victories, including a World Cup, with the biggest-ever win in a European Championship final.

And they did it with the most awesome display of passing power, which made a mockery of all those who had questioned them beforehand.

It was all too much for Mario Balotelli, who marched straight down the tunnel at the end and angrily shrugged away efforts from Italian officials to get him to stay, before returning for the presentation ceremony.

Yet the thing was, Italy were not disgraced and would have held out hopes of a comeback until Cesare Prandelli's final replacement Thiago Motta was stretchered off within four minutes of his arrival, leaving his team-mates to battle through the final half hour with 10 men.

Ultimately though, Spain's display was a fitting end to the best European Championships in almost three decades.

Four players in particular, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Xavi deserve a special mention after starting all three finals, in Vienna, Johannesburg and now Ukraine.

But, as 'Ole' rang around this magnificent stadium, it was a night to glory in tiki-taka - and the players who put it into practice.

Throughout the tournament, the argument for Spain being a dour outfit had been building.

It dominated the pre-match press conferences and was fuelled still further by Arsene Wenger, who accused the world champions of "betraying their philosophy" by turning their tiki-taka style into a negative.

After 15 minutes of the most majestic football imaginable, the greatest noise was the sound of all those words being rammed jubilantly down throats.

Coach Vicente del Bosque refused to bow to the demand for a regular centre-forward to be included in his starting line-up and was rewarded with a start the quality of which was on a par with anything this group of players has ever produced.

Ramos had a couple of early efforts, so too Xavi. Andres Iniesta also had a shot blocked before Spain cut their opponents' defence to shreds.

The move was astounding in its simplicity.

Alvaro Arbeloa started it, Xavi was also involved before Iniesta split the Italy defence with a pass Cesc Fabregas was able to cut-back from the by-line.

And who should be there to head home? None other than little David Silva, who had got free at the near post and flicked the ball into the far.

By half-time, Spain had another

Again five passes were involved. This time it went back to front. Iker Casillas, Fabregas and then Alba, who fed Xavi and kept motoring.

What unfolded can only make Barcelona thankful they had agreed to pay Valencia £13million for the full-back before the tournament started. His price would have gone up significantly otherwise.

Xavi has played that straight through ball thousands of times in his illustrious career. The pace on it was perfect. Alba, beyond Italy's back-line, steadied himself before sliding a shot calmly past Gianluigi Buffon.

Under normal circumstances, the half-time statistics would have underlined Spain's superiority.

In fact, they showed Italy had played more passes and secured 53% possession, almost unheard of against this Spain team.

With Casillas not enjoying his most secure evening, the Azzurri would have expected to create something meaningful.

But the bounce of the ball would not go their way.

Casillas got in the way of a thunderous effort from Antonio Cassano and Balotelli fired over.

No-one could accuse Prandelli of lacking guts. Within 11 minutes of the re-start he had used all his substitutes and seen one of them Antonio di Natale bring a decent save out of Casillas after collecting Riccardo Montolivo's pass inside the area.

Unfortunately for Italy, the last replacement, Motta was only on the field for four minutes before he pulled a hamstring and had to be stretchered off.

It was dreadful luck for the Azzurri, who now knew their task was a hopeless one.

All that was left was to stave off humiliation.

Even that was beyond them as substitutes Torres and Mata struck in the final minutes.

Italy didn't deserve that.

Their first competitive defeat to Spain - penalties excepted - since the 1920 Olympics.

Spain, record breakers twice over, now unbeaten in this competition for 29 games, a run that stretches back to June 2004.

History makers. How boring.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:58 am 
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Spain were absolutely amazing to watch tonight. I've called them and Barca boring a few times but tonight they were far from it. What a team.

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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:39 pm 
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Truely deserve to be champs . What a great game ut was ,italy had their chances but couldnt put it away.

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So true mate ...he is consistently inconsistent throughout his united career ..but what if he turns consistent ..he will get around 40 goals...ATM im waiting for that time as his age is 24/25 :wait: ... :|
on Rooney ,Jan 16th, ..and as they rest is history


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 Post subject: Re: EURO 2012 FINAL: Spain v Italy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:55 pm 
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I love how many people started saying "how can anyone call this boring?"..who did? People said they were boring through the rest of the tournament, mostly due to them bring pretty boring.
They weren't boring last night. They were immense.

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