Euro 2012 Prediction: Spain to win and make footballing history


If they defeat Italy they will become the first international side in history to win three successive tournaments.


By Robin Jellis

The Euro 2012 final in Kiev will give Spain the chance to make history – if they defeat Italy they will become the first international side in history to win three successive tournaments.

Spain would also become the first side to retain the European Championships following their 1-0 victory over Germany in Vienna in 2008, courtesy of a Fernando Torres winner.

The 2010 World Cup triumph in South Africa saw Spain installed as favourites to win this tournament, although they haven’t necessarily played their best football so far.

Spain and Italy met in the first clash in Group C, a match that ended 1-1 after Italy had taken the lead through veteran striker Antonio di Natale.

Cesc Fabregas, being employed as a striker, equalised for the Spanish who went on to thrash the Republic of Ireland 4-0, and scrape past Croatia 1-0.

The Spanish have a fantastic record of having not conceded in the knockout stages of a major international tournament since the World Cup in 2006.

And they continued this, overcoming Iberian rivals Portugal on penalties after a goalless draw in the first of the semi-finals, having beaten France 2-0 in the quarters.

Italy, after drawing with Spain in the group stages, went on to draw 1-1 with Croatia before defeating Ireland 4-0 in their final match to book a quarter-final clash with England.

Despite not scoring in 120 minutes, the Italians thoroughly deserved to qualify, and did so on penalties to set-up a semi-final with a talented German side that looked favourites to face Spain in a repeat of the 2008 final.

However, temperamental striker Mario Balotelli had other ideas, heading Italy in front before smashing home from the edge of the box to put Italy 2-0 ahead at the break.

The Italians failed to take one of a host of chances to put the tie to bed in the second half, before Mesut Özil scored a late penalty, but Italy held on to reach an unexpected final.

Italy have only once won the European Championships, in 1968, and will be looking to add to their last tournament success which came as recently as the 2006 World Cup.

Surprisingly, the Italians have never been beaten by the Spanish in normal time at major tournaments, having won three times and drawn on four occasions.

Despite this, Spain advanced in Euro 2008, the last time the two met, courtesy of a 4-2 penalty shootout win after a goalless 120 minutes of football.

Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo has been cited as the Italian source of inspiration and should not be allowed enough time on the ball to dictate the play.

Spain, however, tend to enjoy the lion’s share of possession in all their games – Germany were the last side to have more possession than them in an international in the Euro 2008 final.

This should prove pivotal, as the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas can dominate proceedings.

With the amount of time they are likely to have on the ball, Spain should be able to create enough opportunities to see off their opponents, making history in the process.

Score prediction: Spain 2-0 Italy


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