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Euro Cup 2012 Grand Finale: The Champions' Face-off!

After 23 days since the UEFA Euro Cup 2012 started, it has finally come to this! The stage is now set for the favorites and defending ...





Euro Cup 2012 Final: Spain vs Italy




After 23 days since the UEFA Euro Cup 2012 started, it has finally come to this! The stage is now set for the favorites and defending champions, Spain to make or break their soccer supremacy over surprise finalists, Italy in an epic gran finale. Should Spain win, it will become the first European team to clinch three major titles in a row (Euro Cup 2008, FIFA World Cup 2010, and now this). It might seem a tall task for Italy, but they sure have the tools to pull up an upset. So who is it gonna be? Let's take a closer look into this match.




Road to the final





Both the teams started off in the same group in the qualifying round. Their first match was against each other, and it ended in a 1-1 draw. Since then, they've gone their separate ways. Here is a little promo video that's worth watching before you move on.









Spain





Spain's next match in the tournament was against Ireland, which turned out to be the weakest side in the tournament. Hence, Spain won an easy 4-0 victory over them. Their next match with Croatia wasn't as easy, but they managed to eke out a narrow 1-0 victory, with Croatia putting up a good fight. This win secured a place for Spain in the quarter finals.





Spanish Football team





Spain met Group D runner ups France in the quarter finals. The French started off great, with a strong mid-field to assist in the game, should it go either way. That was not to be the case, however, when Xabi Alonso finished a brilliant cross, hence putting Spain ahead. France never really recovered from the blow, and a late goal by Xabi Alonso on a penalty kick sealed their fate. Spain went over to the semi finals to face Portugal, their toughest rivals in the competition. Portugal's brilliant counter-attacks proved sufficient enough to keep the Spanish at bay. Eventually, the match went over to penalties, where an unlucky penalty kick from the Portuguese side allowed Spain to sail into the finals.





Italy





Italy didn't have as easy a campaign. After their tie with Spain in their first match, the Italians faced Croatia, who gave them an equally tough time. The match ended in a 1-1 tie, thus endangering their qualification into the quarter finals. But their win over Ireland, and Croatia's defeat by Spain ensured that they qualified.





Italian Football team





Italy had an equally tough time defeating England in the quarters. The match was eventually decided over penalties, the home turf of their world famous goalkeeper Buffon. Hence, Italy landed in the semi final with Germany. This was one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament. Germany had a perfect score so far, having lost to no one so far. But an early goal by Mario Balotelli and another one from him later in the first half from an offside position kind of sealed Germany's fate. Germany did get a penalty and scored, but too late into the match. The whistle blew just when they were about to take their last free kick. Hence, Italy landed into the finals.





Balotelli scores


Spain vs Italy, head to head!



Spain is competing for its third Euro Cup title. It won the cup in 1964 and 2008. Compared to this, Italy has won only one (1968).





Spain is hoping to become the first team to not only win three consecutive major titles in a row, but also the first to defend a Euro Cup title.





Spain has been undefeated in the last 19 competitive games. They won their last nine knockout matches in major tournaments with clean-sheets (without conceding a goal). On the other hand, Italy have won just two o their last 8 matches in regulation time (within the 90 minute mark). 





The Italians have faced Spain 31 times in a major tournament, and have won 10, drawn 12, and lost 8 matches to them.


Today's Face-off, what you need to know?



Today's match is especially exciting. While the Italians might have had a rough road, they certainly seem to have gained pace. Spain, on the other hand, have slowed down a bit, which accounts for their narrow escape from the Portuguese. Whether they will pick up pace in today's match, is up for the time to tell.





Pirlo vs Hernandez





Today's major battles will be played between;




  • Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez - Both these midfielders have emerged as a vital backbone for their respective teams. Andrea Pirlo is known for his precise long and lob passes, which have the deadly ability to find strikers on the pitch. And no less can be said of Xavi Hernandez either. If anyone is the mentor among the two, it is him.

  • Daniele De Rossi and Andres Iniesta - Another midfield battle that could well decide the course of this match. Both are exceptional play-makers who know how to guard their territory. It could be Iniesta's brilliant through passes, or De Rossi's tackling that could decide Spain's fate.

  • Mario Balotelli and Sergio Ramos - A great defender, versus a quick striker, that's all I need say. Spain are especially going to be looking for Balotelli, especially since his double sent the cup favorites Germany packing for home.

  • Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas - Aah, of course! The two best goal keepers will on the pitch today. And both have proven to be a great final line of defense throughout the tournament. Should it come to penalties (which we think it will, see our prediction below), it will come down to these two men to save their country's pride!



Ramos vs Balotelli


Our prediction



Now I know I am no star-gazer or palm-reader, but here is what I think. Spain has been accused of playing a slow game. Their strategy is to keep the larger part of ball possession by short-passing among themselves and back-passing often. And there's no reason for us to believe that today might be much better.





On the other hand, Italy has decided to pitch three defenders, instead of the usual three. This means they are going for a conservative game today. Not only will this prevent Spain from getting much chances, it might also limit Italy's attacking capabilities. And even though Italy is the weaker side on paper, they are known for their defense, which they will do tonight.





Hence, we gather that it might be a draw at the end of regulation time. The game will pick up pace in the extra time, where we might see a goal or two. But the match could as easily go on to penalties as well. Hence, we think it's either the extra time, or the penalties. And we strongly suspect Italy to win the title. What do you think? Whose side are you on?

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Experience Lab - Online business creation and development guide for bloggers and startups: Euro Cup 2012 Grand Finale: The Champions' Face-off!
Euro Cup 2012 Grand Finale: The Champions' Face-off!
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