The trophy waits…will it be two in a row and history for Spain or will the underrated Italian squad justify their assurgency?
Spain vs. Italy
Analysis: Although I’m sure there are others who have been as lucky as me to predict the correct outcomes of every match since the quarterfinals, I still maintain that I deserve a little credit…but not too much. Yes, I picked Italy to pull out a victory against a heavily favored German team, but no one, including me could have foretold a mesmerizing and supreme two-goal performance from Italy’s Mario Balotelli. Even if Balotelli doesn’t quite match his last-game heroics, which is very possible given Spain’s robust duo of Gerard Piquè and Sergio Ramos in the central defense, Italy can still pull off a title win against “La Roja”. But what Balotelli can most certainly do is win you the match. The reason is because clinical finishers like “Super Mario”, are the ones who land on the score sheet, without them it can be very hard to put away that final ball off a beautiful pass.
That’s what Spain fans witnessed in their semi-final match against Portugal. Although the two sides were predominantly even for the majority of the match, Spain completely took over in extra time. They had chance after chance with the Portuguese defense reeling, yet no goal was scored. Luckily, Spain triumphed in penalties. But that’s all penalties primarily are, is luck. Goalkeepers even as good as Spain’s Iker Casillas and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon cannot decide the fate of penalty kicks. Even though “St. Iker” and “Gigi” are unquestionably two of the world’s best goalkeepers, and have a better chance of saving a penalty than I do, it’s still usually a player’s mistake that causes a penalty miss or save. That being said, and my soccer-fan frustration with penalties having been voiced, I can unequivocally say I hope this match doesn’t go to penalty kicks. However, I can easily see it going into extra time.
While Spain’s “Tika-Taka” offense will grant them more possession, I do not think it will make the difference. Without a premier striker, Spain will have trouble breaking-down the “Azurri” defense, which held Germany scoreless for the majority of the match until an unfortunate hand ball in the box offered Germany a late penalty kick. Spain has sorely missed its lethal forward David Villa, whose been absent from Euro 2012 with a broken leg. Furthermore, the remnants of “El Nino”, the great Fernando Torres, are slipping farther into the past, as he has yet to truly return to his past form. Thus, Spain is left without someone to send home the marvelous Spanish midfielders Xavi’s and Iniesta’s passes. I fear a Villa-less Spanish side has been reduced to a sharpshooter with an empty gun, an artist without a paintbrush. Now of course if anybody can produce goals out of thin air it’s this ingenious Spanish National team, but it be will much harder.
However, Italy does possess dangerous strikers. Along with Balotelli, there is Antonio Di Natale, who finished third in Serie A in goals scored, and Antonio Cassano who can assist as well as he can score. And last but not least, Italy holds probably the best player of this Euro Cup tournament, Andrea Pirlo. Although Spain may keep more of the possession, you can count on “Il Maestro” to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
It is only natural that Spain and Italy who began their Euro Cup journeys together with their 1-1 tie back in the group stages, now face each other in the finals. When it is all said and done, and all their trophies and accolades have been accounted for, this Spanish national team may be the best national team ever assembled. Nonetheless, I think Italy just barely weathers the Spanish storm to come ashore as Euro 2012 champions.