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SPAIN vs. ITALY (Olympic Stadium – Kyiv, Ukraine)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total:
2.5 Goals (Over +160, Under -250)
The conclusion of EURO 2012 takes place on Sunday, as usual contenders Spain take on a surprising Italy side. The Spaniards are no strangers to the grand occasion, reaching the finals of the last EURO competition four years ago. Meanwhile, Italy is a side renewed, and looks to win its first major trophy since World Cup 2006. This match should be a tight affair, and after watching each side's previous games of the tournament, a lot can be said about how the final is going to pan out.
It is increasingly evident that Spain is not the team it once was only a couple years ago. Spain has still utilized its possession retention style, but has lost its cutting edge, mainly due to the absence of iconic striker David Villa. Additionally, a lack of desire and an increasing issue of fatigue may account for the under performance of this Spanish side. With the majority of the side's starting 11 winning a vast number of silverware, perhaps a decrease in motivation has occurred. As the Spaniards prepare for Sunday's grand finale, they must recognize the situation at hand, and play with more purpose, energy, and desire.
Italy, contrastingly, has shown the exact opposite qualities of Spain. Throughout the tournament, the Italians have been extremely positive offensively, creating a large number of scoring opportunities. In fact, Italy has had 19 more attempts than Spain during the entire tournament thus far. With Italy boasting a midfield consisting of Player of the Tournament contender Andrea Pirlo, a strike force with the raw talent of Mario Balotelli, and an experienced defense containing Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon, there is definite reason to believe Italy can pull off an upset against the Spanish on Sunday.
However, the Italians do need to approach Spain cautiously and remain tactically sound. The Italians will need to approach the game in a similar fashion as to how they played against Germany. The utilization of a dangerous counter attack, employing Andrea Pirlo's wide passing range accompanied by the tactical awareness and trickery of Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano, can make Italy an extremely hazardous side. That being said, it is important that Italy stays disciplined and pressures the ball accordingly. If Spain dominates possession and the midfield for a long period of time, it will cause the Italians to drop deeper and deeper, limiting the opportunity for a counter attack.
An out-of-form Spanish side against an in-form Italian side should prove to be an intriguing encounter, as each side's opposing qualities can prove to be a match winner or a one-way ticket back home. With Mario Balotelli scoring two goals in his previous match, Italy will hope that his form continues. Meanwhile, Spain will look to penetrate Italy's brick wall of a defense using its familiar intricacy and creativity. Cesc Fabregas should start, as he has been excellent in leading Spanish offensives and giving the Spaniards that extra cutting edge that has been lacking in their play.