30th June 2012
European Championship 2012 has fully lived up to the expectations and the final between reigning champions Spain and resurgent Italy is certainly worthy of the occasion. La Furia Roja are on the road to become the first ever national team to win three major competitions in a row, but the Azzurri are there to make sure they are the ones to enter the history books instead.
If Spain have been thoroughly impressive at the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, we cannot really say they reached the Euro 2012 final in style. La Furia Roja were forced to grind out results in group stage and they were on the verge of elimination for most of the game against Croatia. Following the comfortable victory over France in the quarter-finals, Vincent del Bosque’s side were again made to work hard for the win, but they managed to reach the final after beating Portugal on penalties. La Furia Roja are now just one step away from their third consecutive title, but that could prove to be a huge obstacle unless the team show a massive improvement. Even if Spain continue to dominate possession in each and every game, the team are not as dangerous up front as they once were, seeing that the tip if the attack is pretty blunt regardless of which one of Fabregas, Negredo and Torres gets the nod. The first match against Italy showed that the Azzurri are much more concrete in attack and the odds are we will see a similar game to the one played in Gdansk.
Given that Italy were not even seen as one of the candidates for the trophy in Poland and Ukraine, Cesare Prandelli has got to be congratulated for taking his team to the final. The interesting thing is that Azzurri’s showings have been even better than their results at the Euro 2012, which is a major surprise, especially for a team famous for grinding out results and winning the games they do not dominate. Having said that, football fans all over the world were certainly happy to see attack-minded Italy, playing their best football in years, so the Euro 2012 trophy would be a just reward for Cesare Prandelli’s brave approach throughout the tournament. It is easy to see that the talented tactician has found a right balance in the side, with the back line as solid as ever, compact and adventurous midfield, and a lethal attack. While this Italy side feature plenty of individual talent in the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano, to name just a few, it appears that team spirit is their biggest strength and the thing that could ultimately win them the coveted title. It is only fair that Prandelli will have Abate, Maggio and Cassano back in contention as it would be a shame for any one of these players not to be considered for a place in the final.
Online bookmakers may see Spain as the favourites for the trophy, but looking at teams’ performances at the Euro 2012, Italy certainly look closer to the title. The Azzuri have been absolutely magnificent throughout the tournament and I believe they have what it takes to deliver the final blow and lift the European Championship title.
Verdict: Italy to lift the trophy
Best Odds: 3/2