Spain face Italy tonight in the final of Euro 2012 looking to win a third consecutive international competition.
The feat has never officially been achieved, despite Greece claiming rather flimsily that they have accomplished it in the early days of the World Cup.
I don’t think Greece’s claim counts as they claimed the Olympics as an international tournament but for me that really shouldn’t count.
As far as most people are concerned Spain will make history this evening if they defeat Italy, but that’s a big if.
I have to say despite the fact that Spain are in the final they have been a big disappointment at Euro 2012. They have haven’t really played their best football and a few times they could easily have gone out of the competition.
Should they win Euro 2012 people will be talking about the achievement rather than the great performance of the team at the tournament. They haven’t been fantastic but they could still end up as European champions.
I have however been impressed by the Italians in some of their games. They have against all odds made it to the final. The Azzurri performance against Germany was just magnificent. They showed skill, heart and brains in their victory over one of the best teams in world football.
The likes of Andrea Pirlo, Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi have been superb in midfield and against the Germans Mario Balotelli was unstoppable. The Italians won’t be pushovers and will definitely give Spain a game.
I have to admit that Spain’s system of playing without a striker really does perplex me. They started with Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo against Portugal but he had a poor game. I can’t understand why Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente hasn’t been given a chance.
The striker has scored goals consistently in La Liga for the last few seasons and he seems to have every attribute necessary to be an international centre-forward. Then there is Fernando Torres. The Chelsea striker looked to be regaining his form earlier in the tournament but Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque decided drop him from the starting line-up.
Playing without a striker may work for Barcelona but Spain don’t have Lionel Messi and he is the vital player in Barca‘s striker less formation. Every team needs a focal point in attack and playing Cesc Fabregas or David Silva as a false striker or even striker just doesn’t work.
I think Spain should start tonight’s game with Torres or Llorente up front. However I have a feeling that Del Bosque may choose to play without a recognised striker.
Spain have shown in recent years that their players are not just skilful but can also grind out a result out when they need to. They can mix the skilful with the physical and aren’t scared of a tackle, although Spanish midfield Sergio Busquets seems to go down under challenges from his own shadow sometimes.
The likes of Xavi, Fabregas and Xabi Alonso are all capable of putting in battling displays and they won’t be bullied. The Italian midfield players are no shrinking violets either. The likes of Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi are no strangers to a tackle or two.
I’m looking forward to tonight’s final and think it could be a fascinating watch. I just hope that Italy can produce a display like they did against Germany and don’t go into the game fearing the Spanish. If they pay them too much respect then the reigning European champions will probably defeat them.
However, if they play like they have done in the last two matches then there could be an upset on the cards. This game is so hard to predict. Spain are obviously the favourites for the clash but Italy proved against Germany that they are dangerous underdogs.
Spain to make history tonight, I’m not so sure. This is truly a game that could go either way and I can’t wait for it to kick-off.
Can Spain make history tonight and win a third consecutive international trophy?