Spain went in to this sporting their unorthodox 4-6-0 formation fielding a team without a recognized centre-forward. The ‘eyebrow raising’ formation had been introduced by Spain in this tournament and had been working to their success until now. The Italians on the other hand only made one change to their team that beat Germany 2-1 in the quarter-final which saw the rather unfortunate Balzaretti, who had a world beating performance lose his place to Abate.
In the opening frames of the game both teams were working extremely hard to obtain command. Inevitably it was the Spanish, who once got their typical passing game going were always going to be hard to hinder. However, to Italy’s credit they were no push-overs and did not allow themselves to become besieged by Spain. They got frequent, although brief spells of possession and they looked to gain an advantage by pushing full-back Chielini high up the by-line and to get some deliveries in to Balotelli who displayed his areal potential against the Germans.
After a thoroughly enjoyable three weeks of fantastic football, thrilling matches, and stunning goals, we’ve finally come to the show-piece event of the whole tournament. Euro 2012’s final kicks off on Sunday, July 1st, with the winner and runner-up of Group C, Spain and Italy repectively, competing for the trophy.
Both teams have had great stories in how they reached the final, and both very different. Spain were the pre-tournament favourites to win the Championships, while many expected Italy to crash and burn like they did in 2010, with the domestic disruption going on at home for them. The Italian league and many players have been emboiled in a betting scandal that has even seen Italian left-back Domenico Criscito left at home for the tournament.
But out of the Italian ashes rises the phoenix, with players such as Federico Balzaretti, Daniele De Rossi, and the ageless Andrea Pirlo performing superbly. Balotelli, while sometimes being well off his game, has come up with two goals of immesurable importance in the semi-final, with a display he won’t forget any time soon.
(Key battles below)
So after the disappointment of last night’s first semi-final between Spain and Portugal, fans were hoping that Germany and rank outsiders Italy would serve up a better feast of football than their Iberian counterparts. Germany had won every game in the tournament up to that point (the only team to have done so), and had scored 9 goals. Italy, on the other hand, squeaked out of Group C at Croatia’s expense and it took penalties to see them past England in the Quarter Final stage.
As the teams came out it became apparent the sheer class on the pitch. Germany boasted top quality players in every position: Neuer, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, and Podolski. Italy themselves had a team to be feared, Buffon the talisman in goal, Andrea Pirlo the magician in midfield and Balotelli the livewire up front.
Day 3 of Euro 2012 will take us to Gdansk and Poznan, Poland, as the teams of Group C begin their campaigns to be named the best in Europe. The teams that will call this part of the world home for the next few games will be the Republic of Ireland, Croatia, Italy and defending champions Spain, the group that will most likely be dubbed over the coming weeks, the “Group of Debt” (cue economists chuckling mildly at the screen.)
After winning all of their qualification games it is fair to assume Spain are the bookies favourites going into the tournament, having won it in 2008 when Switzerland/Austria hosted the spectacle, and then winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
However, they are missing a man who was instrumental in both successes in David Villa, who was top goal scorer in 2008 and joint top scorer in 2010 with Germany’s Thomas Muller and the Netherland’s Wesley Sneijder. Spain’s all time leading goal scorer, who was the top scorer in Group I with 7 goals, is still out of action after breaking his tibia in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup against Qatari side, Al-Sadd, back in December.
It’s almost here! Thousands upon thousands of people are currently descending on Poland and the Ukraine where the organisers hope to be ‘Creating History Together’. This year is one of the most competitive, with the three best placed countries at the last World Cup expected to rule the roost once more. Two of these have been drawn in B, this edition’s ‘Group of Death’ alongside Portugal and Denmark, who will be pardoned for feeling aggrieved. Elsewhere England and France face off in group D while our Boys in Green will be looking to overturn the World Cup Champions and the might of Croatia and Italy on their way to group qualification.
As I have the small matter of my exams, I won’t be able to give you detailed tips as of yet, but make sure to keep up-to date with Balls Out In Public where our men will be keeping you updated about all the goings on in Poland and the Ukraine. Without any further ado, I present to you my betting tips for Euro 2012!
On Saturday (9th July), Fabio Cannavaro decided to draw the curtains on a long, successful career. The Italian defender is the country’s highest capped captain and just 5 years ago he led Gli Azzurri to their 4th World Cup.
Fabio began playing football for the local Naples based club Bagnoli, but it didn’t take the Napoli scouts long to spot his talents. When approached, Fabio quickly agreed to be part of the set up at the Serie A team who were his childhood team. He spent the early part of his career as a ball boy, watching and even getting to meet his heroes such as Diego Maradona and Ciro Ferrera.
After many outstanding performances for the reserves, Cannavaro was promoted to the First team and made his debut in 1993 against Juventus, already fulfilling the dream of playing for his childhood club.
The post-Maradona era proved to be tough for Napoli, as they struggled for funds and were forced to sell Cannavaro to Parma. He enjoyed great success there, winning the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia and receiving several individual awards. He spent 7 years at Parma before Inter Milan finally decided to make a move for the talented defender, offering a whopping €23 million for him which Parma happily accepted. Read the rest of this entry »