, , , , , , , ,

Well, it’s that time. The finals of Euro 2012 are here, and it feels like the tournament just started yesterday. Yes, there were upsets in this Euro, as there are in every major tournament, but the finals still eventually ended up containing two soccer powerhouses, Spain and Italy. A lot of people were writing Italy off before the tournament started, but it seems like they always find ways to win when it counts lately. What will they do in the finals against the #1 ranked team in the world from Spain?

Spain squeaked by Portugal to get into the finals on penalty kicks. To be honest, they have not impressed us one bit this tournament. They’ve been called boring, and with good reason. Then again, remember the last world cup? Lots of 1-0 wins by this team, that’s what they do. Iniesta to Xavi, back to Iniesta, to Alonso…heard it before, will hear it again in this game. Spain will try to control the midfield, and as soon as Italy gets the ball, they will swarm to get it back. All that fancy midfield passing won’t get them anywhere against Italy, they are going to have to find a way to attack. But, we smell another 4-3-3 with Torres and Llorente rotting on the bench again…

Italy deserves to be in this final. They took down Germany decisively in the semis, scoring 2 goals in the first half and then preventing tonnes of Germany crosses from turning into goals. Mario Balotelli finally came alive and proved it was a good decision to put him in. He definitely gives them some size and speed up front, and he will definitely have to continue to be ‘super Mario’ in order to break down Spain. Pirlo will have to do what he does best, send the ball where it’s needed, not only taking advantage of set pieces, but also open play. He has definitely impressed during this tournament.

If Italy beat Germany, and prevented them from scoring from open play, they can beat Spain. Germany has many more attacking weapons than Spain. The challenge is for Italy to control the midfield, as Spain has them beat there. Something tells us this is going to be a slow game, with thousands of meaningless passes. Hopefully the teams go right for it and try to set the tone early with a goal to open this up. Unlikely in a final though, no one will want to make a mistake.

Prediction: Spain wins 1-0