After 30 fantastic matches, Euro 2012 is finally coming to an end, with Spain and Italy set to meet in the final tonight. Between them, they’ve knocked out Portugal, Germany, France and England, and in Italy’s case, they upset the odds by beating favourites Germany fairly convincingly. The game tonight should be closely contested, with Italy progressively improving as the tournament went on, and Spain performing consistently as usual. The two teams encountered each other in Group C, in their very first match. Neither team had the upper hand, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw, with Antonio Di Natale cancelling out Cesc Fabregas’s opener.
Spain – Star Men: Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas
Spain’s trademark brand of ‘tiki-taka’ football has won them many admirers in recent years, and this hasn’t changed this summer as they have continued to mesmerise fans and neutrals alike with their outstanding pass-and-move playing style. Xabi Alonso has begun to draw level with the two Barcelona midfielders that have often overshadowed him at international level, Xavi and Iniesta, while their winger-turned-fullback Jordi Alba has looked hugely impressive despite his relative inexperience. Their switch to an unusual 4-6-0 formation has surprised many; however it is hardly different from the style that Barcelona play, with the attacking players rotating and having fairly free roles. Everyone knows what to expect from the Spanish tonight – whether or not the Italians can cope with them is a different story.
Italy – Star Men: Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli, Riccardo Montolivo
The Italians have grown in confidence with every passing match in Euro 2012, and their star players have begun to come to the fore. Andrea Pirlo rolled back the years to put in some commanding performances, while Mario Balotelli’s impact against favourites Germany cannot be ignored. The likes of Marchisio and Montolivo have shown their creative side too, and they look a force to be reckoned with. The traditional ethos of defence over attack is still in place, but nonetheless they have sufficient firepower to trouble any backline. Their confidence will be sky high after a fantastic victory over the Germans, and Cesare Prandelli’s side might be able to bring joy to a nation currently in football turmoil, ravaged by match-fixing scandals and violent ultras.