So here we are. The finalists of Europe’s most prestigious national tournament have been decided. Spain will take on Italy in what should be a defensive EURO 2012 final.
The Main Man: Francesc Fabregas
Boringly effective has essentially been the theme of the Spanish team’s EURO 2012 campaign. Their Tiki-Taka does indeed have that effective breakdown aspect, but much attention has been drawn to how negative they’ve played. Unlike their 2010 World Cup campaign or Barcelona’s 4-3-3 system, their team lacks a real striker. Del Bosque’s choice of playing Fabregas in a Messi-esque false number 9 role has proved to be perhaps ineffective, with Fabregas unable to bring them the forward running that a forward, or even an adapted forward like Lionel Messi can provide.
This Spanish team lacks some ‘magic’ in their side, with many capable of providing the killer through ball, but none capable of finishing the moves off. Fernando Torres proved that Spain could do better with a real Number 9 forward in their team, as he was capable of breaching offside traps and opening up play, although his finishing has been maligned over the duration of the tournament (with the exception of the game against Ireland, where he finished off with two goals).
Their defence is very solid, as Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have proven to be a very solid partnership at the heart of the defence, whilst Jordi Alba’s crosses have been penetrating as Spain have ever been, with them more often than not providing to be a threat from the left hand channel of Spain’s attack.
If it comes to a penalty shootout, both teams will be very well drilled. Both have already experienced a shootout each in the tournament, with both coming out of the shootouts victorious. In Casillas Spain have a very reliable goalkeeper and in their abundance in midfield talent, they have players who know how to put the ball into the back of the net.
The Main Man: Mario Balotelli/Andrea Pirlo
Why two selections? Because Balotelli can be really special on one day, and be really rubbish on the next. On the other hand, Pirlo is a very classy midfielder who can produce sparkling performances on a day-to-day basis. Balotelli showed why he was such a talent with two splendidly taken goals in the semi-finals against Germany, and will be raring to add to his goal tally against Spain in the finals.
Italy have been admitedly very open with their play in this EURO 2012 championships. They have been compact and very clinical with their finishing, with them taking a lot of their chances in the tournament. They have already provided some surprises, with them overcoming The Three Lions, along with Germany, who were tipped to become champions of this year’s series.
Pirlo will be instrumental for the proceedings, with him being the man who really runs the show for Italy. A very classy midfielder who really knows how to split opposition defences with his slick passing, and he will have to be on top of his game for Italy to overcome Spain’s Tiki-Taka game in a few day’s time.
They’ve played with a formation reminiscent of a 4-1-2-1-2, with the focal point being on Montolivo and Andrea Pirlo in midfield. Cassano’s impact must also not be understated, with him producing a very strong performance against the Germans in the semi-finals.
This will be a final that is hopefully one to savour. After the rugby match that was the World Cup final, neutrals around the world will most certainly be hoping that this will be a spectacle away from controversy and filled with goals.