Spain and Italy go head to head in Kiev to decide who will be the winners of Euro 2012. Spain will be aiming to defend their title and the also goes into this match having just won the World Cup in South Africa back in 2010. They will seek to become the first nation to retain the Henri Delaunay Trophy when they take on Italy.
For Italy, their last success was in the World Cup in Germany when they won the World Cup and having won it a total of four times, will be seeking to win the European Cup for only the second time, having won previously way back in 1968. Therefore tonight's encounter will be a repeat of the opening game of Group C in Gdansk on 10th June, when Antonio Di Natale stepped off the bench to give Italy the lead just after the hour mark only for Cesc Fabregas to score and level it for Vicente del Vosque side.
Interestingly, their previous head to head meetings has shown that from 30 games in both competitive and friendly action Italy have won 10, Spain eight, with 12 matches ending all square. But if you go further, it seems that Spain's last competitive victory over Italy came in their first-ever meeting in the 1920 Olympic Games, with their seven wins since that date all from friendly meetings. Also back in Euro 2008, Spain won on penalties against Italy, after their quarter-final contest ended 0-0 after 120 minutes, but the record books class this as a draw.
No doubt that Spain enters this match as the favourites. They were tagged the favourites heading into the final despite a perception that they have not hit the heights of previous years. Also the absence of star striker David Villa through injury has doubtless hampered Del Bosque's selection process, with Barcelona's former Arsenal midfielder Fabregas employed in attack k in the group clash with Italy as well as against France in the quarter-finals. Fernando Torres remained on the bench throughout the tense semi-final success over Portugal on penalties with his only goals in the tournament coming in the win over Republic of Ireland. And Alvaro Negredo got hsi break in the last-four contest before being replaced by Fabregas early in the second period.
Meanwhile, Italy will once again look towards Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli after he scored two goals against Germany who were the more fancied side to go through. As it is now, Balotelli now has three goals to his name for the tournament and if he scores one more goal tonight, he can claim the Golden Boot award. Antonio Cassano expected to partner him up front for Cesare Prandelli's side. Balotelli has stated it is not about personal glory but the team comes first when he was asked if he is keen to get his hands on the Golden Boot award.
In Italy's midfield, watch out for Andrea Pirlo. No doubt his assured control and incisive passing against both England and Germany, not to mention his well taken penalty in the quarter-final makes him a joy to watch.
Spain have also the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso and David Silva, in which they have players capable of picking their way through the most stubborn of defences. And despite their attacking talent, Del Bosque's men are also superb at the back, with a record of nine successive clean sheets in major tournament knockout games, and in Iker Casillas he has not conceded a goal since being beaten by Di Natale back in early June, which is a run of 419 minutes.
Further good news is that Christian Maggio is available to Prandelli after missing the victory over Germany through suspension. On the other hand, defender Ignazio Abate will be available for selection following his absence from the last four success due to muscle fatigue.
Take Spain to win this match and give the 1/4 ball away. If it ends in a draw in 90 minutes, be prepared to lose half the stakes.
Cruiser Betting Tip : Spain 3-1 Italy