Euro 2012 Final Preview Spain v Italy
It all comes down to this. Thequalification, the group stages, the controversies, both on and off the pitch,it all comes down to the final on Sunday night between Italy and Spain.
Italy came into the competition on theback of another match fixing scandal dominating headlines back home. TheItalian team camp was raided just days before the competition by police seekingto interview players in connection with the scandal.
It was the absolute worst preparation forany major tournament. That is, it was the absolute worst preparation for amajor tournament since the 2006 World Cup and the Calciopoli match-fixingscandal rocked Italian football, brought Juventus to their knees, and dentedthe reputation of one of the great soccer powers.
But strangely none of it seemed tomatter. Italy’s chaotic World Cup preparations brought them their fourth WorldCup and the best response to scandal possible.
Six years later another match-fixingscandal. Remarkably Italy are back in the final. They can’t do it again, canthey?
Germany were heavily favoured in theirsemi-final against Italy, but in the end barely threatened the Italian goal.Germany were awarded a penalty in additional time but that spot kick was one oftheir few serious chances in a game dominated by Italy in midfield.
Mario Balotelli’s two gorgeous goalsreminded the World he isn’t just a moody loony, he can play some, and at only21 has the time, and potential, to become the biggest star in the sport.
Spain on the other hand have impressedless and less as the competition has went on. Their semi-final victory overPortugal was gifted to them by Cristiano Ronaldo’s bizarre decision to delaytaking a penalty. In the end he delayed too long. Portugal were out, Ronaldohadn’t even stepped up.
Spain dominated possession. When do theynot? UEFA’s new love of the passes completed stat has already lost its lustre.Spain have completed 800 passes, 900 passes. No goals in 120 minutes. Isn’tthat the important bit?
But still, Spain are Spain. They may notlook the team they used to be but within their squad remains the core ofimmortals who won back to back Euros and World Cup and are, perhaps, on thebrink of adding another trophy. But in the year Barcelona slipped from theirpedestal Spain could be about to join them as a former greatest team ever.
On Sunday night Spain will win anunprecedented third Major title in a row and be anointed the greatest nationalteam ever. Or Italy will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of anothermatch-fixing scandal; all misdemeanors forgotten, all crimes cast aside inunexpected glory.
The final will be broadcast live on BBC1 and ITVon Sunday night. Need a UK IP? Click Here
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