FRIDAY, JUNE 29: The Euro’s are coming to and end and no one will argue that it hasn’t had its fair share of excitement, drama, nerve-racking moments and memorable games.
Holland were sent packing very early with no points and two goals; Germany fell at the next last hurdle (again); Ronaldo showed he can actually play for his country but didn’t get to take the deciding penalty while Spain have a whole other quality team on the bench that could probably make it to the final to play their first picks; and England? It is same old story.
With the finals all that remain, we have seen the most goals scored in this competition to date and with the next Euro’s being extended to 24 teams, it only promises to get better.
Spain find themselves 90 minutes away from re-writing the history books by epic proportions!
No international team has ever won three back to back competitions in a row — ever.
However, even though they have had more successful passes and possession by anyone in the tournament (by a large ratio) they haven’t been impressive.
Stumbling through the group stage with no intensity and no spark up front, they beat the French by boring them to death and then lucked out against Portugal on penalties.
Del Bosque seems to have the idea that the more useless backward passes and higher insignificant possession will automatically bring you goals, especially if you field six in the middle and no strikers.
Torres must be thinking he has two heads or his shoelaces are tied together.
In saying that, it will be very hard to bet against them in any way come Sunday afternoon. They haven’t conceded a goal in over 300 minutes.
This is a fantastic achievement at any level, never mind on the international stage.
Just thinking of the players they have shut up shop to is amazing. Ronaldo, Nani, Ribery, Benzema (somehow I think his plane ticket to Ukraine was switched by a clone with two left feet and no eyes), Mandzukic, Balotelli, Modric and the list goes on.
Italy started very lacklustre – their group games were very defensive minded and similar to their Spanish counterparts they struggled to create anything up front.
The only spark and drama they had was the referee’s cards flying about the Ukrianian atmosphere in Balotelli’s direction. Big shock.
Pirlo has been instrumental, especially in the formation they have set up.
He pulls the strings and if Balotelli and himself find their feet early on in Sunday’s final — Spain will be up against it.
On the other hand, with the Spanish setting up to flood the midfield it could be too much for a tired, aging Pirlo.
Portugal had their tactics right in the Semi as they defended with a very high line, didn’t give Xavi and Iniesta a second to think which, made them play long balls much more than they would like. It is unlikely that Italy could keep that game plan for the 90 minutes.
Whichever way you look at it, Sunday is going to be tense — goals will be very few and far between. It could very well go to the wire with more penalty kicks. The last time these two met in tournamnet football before this year Spain put Italy out in penalties.
Be on the look out for Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Di Natalie, Pirlo and of course Balotelli (You can usually spot him as he is yelling in the ref’s face and is physically unable to smile)
Prediction – Draw and Spain to win on penalties.
Jamie MacMillan is co-owner of moongateproductions.com.