Argentina legend Diego Maradona says Spain have not looked an unbeatable force at Euro 2012 and feels Italy are a chance to win the final.
Italy’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 on Sunday.
Spain 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.”
Mario Balotelli’s brace 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.
“Against Germany a world-star striker emerged in the form of Mario Balotelli. Nobody doubted his ability or size, but many criticised his maturity,” Maradona said.
“Against Germany, ‘Super Mario’ demonstrated that he has arrived on the world stage. Served by a brilliant pass by (Antonio) Cassano he scored with his head. Served by a 50-yard pass by (Riccardo) Montolivo he beat German captain (Philipp) 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.”