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Euro 2012 Final: Live Blogging Spain vs. Italy


Jeff Pachoud/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe European Championships trophy, writ huge. Just try lifting it over your head! Get world sport around the world at

Gleb Garanich/ReutersA composite photograph of fans in Kiev, Ukraine, before Sunday’s Euro 2012 final.


You have read all the articles. You have seen all the studio analysis. You have seen all (or most) of the games of the 2012 European Championships.

And now it is time for the payoff: The final between defending champion Spain and surprising (to many) Italy Sunday in Kiev, Ukraine.

Spain is seeking to become the first repeat European champion, having won the tournament in 2008 when it was played in Austria and Switzerland. In addition, as most of you know, Spain is also the defending World Cup champion. Italy has not won a European title since 1968, but has also won the World Cup four time, most recently in 2006 in Germany.

By this point, we are all familiar with the key matchups for the final: Xavi Hernández and Andrea Pirlo; Andrés Iniesta and Daniel De Rossi; the goalkeepers (perhaps the best two in the world) Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon; Sergio Ramos and Mario Balotelli; and Gerard Pique and Antonio Cassano.

But finals often bring surprises and this match might be ripe for contributions from unexpected places. Could the largely forgotten Fernando Torres finally inject Spain’s offense with some verve. Or will it be Jesús Navas. For Italy, my pick for a player who could turn the match is Alessandro Diamanti.

Who do you think will play a pivotal role in the 2012 European Championships final?

Once we have the starting lineups for the match, the Goal blog will go live following events leading up to kickoff and then during game, so check back before at about 2 p.m. Eastern.

Pregame |In Rome … In Madrid
Bread and circus and soccer in Rome by a giant screen at Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus).Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesBread and circus and soccer in Rome by a giant screen at Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus).
The pregame scene outside Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.Dominique Faget/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe pregame scene outside Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Pregame |Spain Formation

Spain Coach Vincent del Bosque again goes with a lineup that is basically four at the back and six midfielders adept at switching spots and making killing runs. No Navas. No Torres. But how will Spain, at the back, deal with Italy’s surprisingly vibrant offense, and more specifically with Mario Balotelli, if the enigmatic striker is focused and hellbent on proving all his critics wrong — again.

For Italy, the more we see the Italians, the more we like a team that has thrown off the shackles of catenaccio under Cesare Prandelli and has used it guile and keen tactical sense in its march to the final.

Who is your pick? The Goal blog, as much as it is mesmerized by Spain, like so many millions of others around the world, likes Italy … 3-2.

Pregame |Substitutes

Italy bench: Sirigu, De Sanctis, Maggio, Ogbonna, Balzaretti, Thiago Motta, Giaccherini, Diamanti, Nocerino, Di Natale, Borini, Giovinco.

Spain bench: Valdés, Reina, Albiol, Martínez, Juanfran, Cazorla, Navas, Rodríguez, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente.

Pregame |Balotelli
Mario Balotelli, right, speaks with a group of fans, including his brother Enoch, far left, before Sunday's final.Jon Super/Associated PressMario Balotelli, right, speaks with a group of fans, including his brother Enoch, far left, before Sunday’s final.

In addition to all the attention and articles in the news media, like Jere Longman’s in The Times Sunday, Balotelli has energized another sliver of the Italian population.

Pregame |Starting Lineups

Italy: Gianluigi Buffon; Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Ignazio Abate; Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio; Riccardo Montolivo, Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli.

Spain: Iker Casillas; Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez; Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregar, David Silva.

Source: (NYTimes).


Kismaayodaily On July - 1 - 2012

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