Story by Robin Popley
With Pre-Match Predictions from the entire 11 squad.
Last Time Around: Spain 1 – 1 Italy (Group C, Round 1, Euro 2012).
Three and a half weeks ago, every football fan was becoming atuned to the fact the European Championships, was just a stones throw away. Both the BBC and ITV also enhanced this by creating very differing, but eye-catching, (and most importantly, memorable) adverts and it aroused our hopes once more. Although England headed into this European Championships, with little hope attached to them, they proved most pessimists wrong. Okay, despite finally appreciating the harsh truth that we are still not good enough, I think Roy Hodgson has at least rekindled the relationship between the fans and the Three Lions and that is something that must be taken away from this tournament.
Yet, our conquerers, Italy, are one of two teams in the showcase final on Sunday night. After their recent performances, the Italians have shown great resolve to overcome problems on their own shores amid rumours of further match-fixing, to excell in the game they’ve been a world-giant at for so long. There is something endearing about Italian culture that cannot help but make one smile.
Standing between them and a fairy tale ending, are the most dominant side in international football currently (and for some time indeed), Spain. The Spanish – appearing in their 3rd consecutive major tournament final – have, until their semi-final, looked every bit the team that has been tipped by many to retain their title. In fact, some have even said their predictability now makes them boring. Claims members of their squad have refuted. However, a lacklustre showing against their Iberian counterparts and another against the Croatians in the deciding Group C match, have shown spectators that the great Spainards aren’t quite as invincible as some would try and make you believe. Furthermore, some of the tactical decisions made to date, have been somewhat puzzling. Nevertheless, one thing does remain: Vicente Del Bosque still commands a great presence, and with it, a great respect. Should he have anything to do with it, the cup will only be travelling to one capital on Monday, and that is Madrid to recreate two former parties, superseed it and potentially have another Cesc shirt moment for old times sake. Anyone in the Spanish team seeking a move elsewhere??? But, I digress…
If Balotelli, Cassano and Pirlo continue their fine form, Italy could well be out of sight before the match has truly began, much like was the case against Germany. On the other hand, should Xabi Alonso carry on to orchestrate the Spanish midfield as he has done so diligently to date, Spain may yet feel the cup will remain with them. Moreover, the performances of both Captains – Buffon and Casillas – in goal, are key for their respective teams.
One thing is certain though, if nothing else, we are assured of a great match to end what has been a fantastic tournament.
(It’s sad to think Uefa will change it soon. Big bonus though: Looks like Sepp will be introducing TV replays. SCORE!!! Therefore, analogy is: some change is good. So, will we have a new European King?)
Our Pre-Match Predictions
Me – Spain, just. Italy are playing like a team without fear. Yet, Spanish supremacy won’t be handed over to the Italians without a fight. A close fought contest. 1 – o.
Aaron: 1 – 1, hopefully Italy on Penalties!
Adam: 2 – 1 Italy. Balotelli to score the winner in Extra time.
(Ben interjects: I’ll run down the street yelling ‘Why always me’ if that happens).
Ben: Italy on Penalties!
Charlotte: 2 – 1 to Casillas…(Oops, I mean Spain!) I will cry if Italy win…
Richard: 1 – 1 in normal play, Italy to win 2 – 1 in extra time.
Rob: 1 – o Italy.
Ryan: 3 – 2 Italy aet.
Sarah: Opposite to Ben, I think Spain on Penalties. Whoever wins though, I do think it’ll all come down to penalties.
Seng: 1 – 0 to Italy.
Steve: 1 – 0 to Spain.