Euro 2012 Final Betting Preview
It has been a wonderful European Championships and hopefully it gets the send-off it deserves in Kiev on Sunday night.
The showpiece sees defending World and European champions Spain play Italy and few can argue that these two deserve to take part in the final joust for the trophy.
Spain have meandered their way through the tournament with uninspiring yet highly effective football, in complete contrast to their opponents who have really caught the eye with some memorable displays.
Italy, for so many years a defensive minded outfit, regardless of manager, have been much more proactive under current boss Cesare Prandelli and semi-final hero Mario Balotelli epitomises all that is good about the modern Azzurri.
Balotelli’s brace stunned tournament favourites Germany in the last four and, while Andrea Pirlo has quite rightly hogged the headlines for a string of marvellous displays in a deep-lying centre midfield role, it was the Manchester City man that ultimately proved the difference.
Germany never really got into their stride against Italy and that was the case too when England huffed and puffed for 90 minutes before hanging on in extra time in the quarter-finals to take the 2006 world cup winners to penalties.
Always at their best when things conspire against them, Italy are unbeaten in five matches and must take plenty of confidence from their 1-1 Group C draw with Sunday’s opponents a fortnight ago.
Few could have argued had Italy not conceded a second half equaliser to Cesc Fabregas that evening and while Spain were excellent in beating Ireland 4-0, we did not learn much from a pummelling of an awful Irish side.
Portugal will be kicking themselves they couldn’t take one of their glorious chances to dump out the Spanish in the semis before succumbing from 12 yards and Vicente del Bosque’s team news will be fascinating.
Clearly unsure of his best starting XI, the Spain boss must decide whether to again field a team without a recognised striker and, if he chooses to do so, then I see the favourites struggling.
Portugal coped comfortably against Alvaro Negredo, given a shock start, and it is Italy, remarkably, that look to possess more match winners.
There really isn’t much between this pair and the selection has to be Italy to lift the trophy. It could be a long night, but I’m fairly confident they will get the job done and could not put anybody off taking the 4.00 or thereabouts about them doing so in 90 minutes.
2pts Back Italy to win Euro 2012 @ 2.50 (Ladbrokes)
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Tuesday June 26
Portugal look potential winners of Euro 2012 but they face an exceptional Spain team in the semi-finals and are likely to come up just short in their pursuit of glory. More
Wednesday July 4
The 2012 European Championships are over, but Sports Pundit has decided to reflect and select a Best XI from the tournament. More
Friday June 29
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has lavished praise on star striker Mario Balotelli after his double fired the Azzurri into the final of the 2012 European Championships with a 2-1 victory over Germany. More
Thursday November 17
With the qualification stage to the Euro 2012 complete, we take a look at the teams that will be fighting it out between them come June 2012. More