SPAIN vs. ITALY

The best, most important and most thrilling game in European football. Supposedly. Can the World and European Champions and the Italians give us a game to remember? A game of the ages? A game of goals and banter and decisions and ‘thrillingness’? Or will Spain triumph tremendously and win the way everyone has expected them to? Or can Italy provide us with the answer to the unanswerable and intriguing question; ‘How do you beat Spain?’

Four years ago. They almost did. They took Spain to a penalty shoot-out but they lost and Spain went on to win thr tournament. The first of what could turn out to be three in a row. However, disregarding that game, Italy have beaten Spain three times in tournaments and drawn three times. Spain have never beaten Italy in a tournament in 90 minutes. But this game can go over the 90 mark anyway. There has to be a winner!

This game was the first Group C game of the tournament. It was, unsurprisingly, a draw and therefore we can draw no conclusions. This should be a two-horse race. Here’s for a great European Championship’s Final!

First Half

Both teams came out playing to win-that was obvious. For the first, ooh, thirteen minutes both teams attacked, came forward, pressurised. But then Spain scored with a lovely but not particularly special Silva goal. It was enough, for everyone, and he spun around ran to a camera and shouted, ‘COME ON’. Nice for all the English fans watching 🙂 Were the Italians out of it? No. They played hard; they even spent ten or so minutes almost entirely in Spain’s half. But Spain are tough and fast and strong. They defend like no other team and they break way to fast for Italy. And just from time, Alba broke fairly well sprinted like Usain and slid in a perfect goal just to the right of Buffon’s hand. Celebrations all round. If you’re Spanish anyway. Score 2-0.

Second Half

He wouldn’t have known at the time but Prandelli, the Italian coach, made what turned out to be a massive mistake at half-time. He made all three of his substitutions, and less than five minutes later one of them had to come off with a pulled hamstring. Italy would play with 10 men against a much superior, two goals ahead Spain. Could they do it? No. Although the next goal didn’t come until 84th minute, Spain controlled the game, had many more chances, possession and the Italians looked deflated, knackered and completely out of their depth. Much like a third round FA Cup game with a premiership team and a non-league team who had somehow made their way through. Italy were out of it, before they went a goal down. When the second goal of the game cam from Mata (a Torres assist) in the 88th minute, that. Was. It.  Hard to take, even for neutrals. Final Score 4-0 to Spain.

Afterwards

Balotelli stormed off, only to return for his runners-up medal. Italians everywhere cried. Spanish players brought their kids on to much ‘awhhhing’ by everyone else and then went to get their winners medals.

And so….

Italians were not bad. They were just not good enough. One can only imagine what difference Germany or England would have made to this final. Probably the scoreline difference would have just been higher. Every national team now looks to forward to World Cup qualifying and ultimately the World Cup in Brazil. How do they stop Spain from winning an amazing, record four titles on the run. Because, Spain are good, too good for anyone at the moment.

Amid rumours of their ‘boring’ game, they upped and came out and put four away against a good team in a final. They smashed Italy. They won a record third consecutive tournament by a record four goals. Torres goes home with the golden boot after the third goal and fourth goal assist. And Spanish fans and players go home knowing they really are The. Best. Team. Ever.

Boring?

Not anymore.

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