After a series of dramas had occurred over the past 3 weeks, Euro 2012 will be signing off in style on Sunday with a much delighted final where the defending Europe and World Champions, Spain take on Italy. Both the finalists, had played already a game against each other in the group stages of the tournament, in which the match ended in a 1-1 draw. In that first match of Group C of the tournament, 61st minute advantage for Italy provided by Di Natale’s top class finish was cancelled out by Fabregas’s goal, 3 minutes later. And that goal by Di Natale was the only goal conceded by Spain in the competition, so far.

It is expected that Vincent Del Bosque will be making only a change in the team which started in the semi-final clash against Portugal last Wednesday. Sevilla striker, Alvaro Negredo is likely to be replaced by Barcelona midfielder, Cesc Fabregas. On the other side, Cesare Prandelli will be most probably going with the same line-up which started in the encounter against Germany last Thursday.

Road to the finals:

Spain                                                            Italy

Group Stages:

1-1 Italy                              Match 1          1-1 Spain

4-0 Ireland                          Match 2          1-1 Croatia

1-0 Croatia                          Match 3          2-0 Ireland                         

Quarter-finals:

2-0 France                                                   0-0(4-2 on Penalties) England

Semi-finals:

0-0(4-2 on Penalties) Portugal                    2-0 Germany

Expected Line-ups:

Spain:

Italy:

Spain attack vs Italy defence:

Italy played the first two games of the tournament with 3-5-2 formation, with De Rossi as a sole centre-back. Bonucci was used as the right back and Chiellini as the left back. Pirlo and Marchisio were opted to play in the deep of the midfield where Maggio and Giacherrini were playing in the right and left wings of the 5 men midfield, respectively. Despite of being a midfielder, De Rossi did the job of a defender to the considerably appreciable level as he was playing in the heart of the defense for his club since March.

As 4-4-2 formation was introduced in the final group match against Ireland, De Rossi was operated from his favourite defensive midfield and Juventus pair, Chiellini and Barzagli formed the heart of the defense, where Balzeritti and Abate played in the left and right backs respectively. As Chiellini was in the injury list of players for the quarter-final game against England, Bonucci returned to the starting line-up to form pair with his Juventus team-mate, Barzagli. As Abate was unavailable and Maggio was suspended for the semi-final clash against Germany, Balzeritti was shifted to the right back from his favourite left back position. Chiellini played as left back in his return in the semi-finals. Pirlo was working from the deep of the midfield in the knock out stages.

As of now, though Abate and Maggio will be available for the finals, Balzeritti is expected to play in the right back due to his influential performance against Germans in the semi-finals.

Speaking about Spain, for the semi-final clash against Portugal, Vincent del Bosque made a sinsle change from his team which started the quarter-final game against France. Sevilla Striker, Alvaro Negredo was brought in the place of Barcelona Midfielder, Cesc Fabregas who has been playing as false No. 9 in the tournament. And Fabregas is expected to return to the starting line-up for the clash with Italy in the final as Negredovput up an horrifying performance. Apart from the No. 9 position, Spain has been starting all the games of the tournament with the same remaining 10.

Spaniards are known for their passing abilities. The no. of passes completed by them is more than any other team in the tournament. The absence of injured David Villa is severely felt in the Spanish side.

In the first game where Italy faced Spain in the group stages, Silva provided an excellent assist to Fabregas to level the score. Silva passed the ball in between De Rossi and Chiellini; As Maggio failed to mark Fabregas, the Barcelona man ran in the gap between Maggio and De Rossi and scored. Italian defenders should come up with bright display in order to avoid those errors in marking the attackers.

As De Rossi has been playing in the left wing, he will be marking Xavi Hernandez who is opted to play on the right flank. As De Rossi is known for producing excellent tackles, Xavi will be facing a tough task to go beyond the Roman midfielder. As the 3 of back 4 has been playing for the same club, the co-ordination between them will be more. Barzagli will be marking Fabregas and Bonucci will be mapping Silva.

Alba, who came in the team for ageing Capdevilla has been producing considerably more threats to the opponents. His noticeable remarkable run was that he made against France, where he put up an excellent through ball to Alonso in which the Real Madrid midfielder scored with the header. Arbeloa is found uneffective throughout the tournament with majority of the Spain attacks coming only from the left. Pirlo and Montolivo should mark the influential Busquets. When Fabregas run back to collect the ball, Silva and Iniesta should take advantage in crossing the defenders.

Italy attack vs Spain defense:

In World Cup 2010, Sergio Ramos played as right back; Puyol and Pique as centre backs and Capdevilla in the left back. Due to the injury to Puyol, Ramos who played almost all the matches in CB last season for Real Madrid, has pulled to play in the heart of the defense by Del Bosque and thereby letting the way for Arbeloa to play as right back. Might be considering the ageing factor, Del Bosque opted influential Valencia’s left back Jodi Alba ahead of Capdevilla to play as a part of the spanish defense. 

Sergio Busquets was brought in to the team for World Cup 2010 for the defensive midfield role in the place of Margo Sena. The 23-year old Barcelona midfielder was continuously delivering valuable goods for his country, since making his first appearance in 2010.

In the opening two matches Pirlo and Marchisio were playing in the deep of the midfield in Prandelli’s 3-5-2 formation. But the introduction of 4-4-2 formation in the game against Ireland, made Marchisio to play in the right side of the midfield, leaving Pirlo alone in the deep of the midfield.

As Motta was in the injury list of players for the game against England, Montolivo was given the opportunity to make his first start in the tournament. Though Montolivo has been playing in the right side of the midfield for his club, he was made to play in the play-maker role i.e., behind the strikers. But, despite of playing in the unfavourable position, Montolivo provided the considerably appreciable performance in the quarter-final game. He ran in the crucial gaps and kept the ball moving. Due to his excellent performance, Montolivo was given another opportunity to start the semi-final against Germany despite of Motta being available.

Balotelli didn’t make a big impact in the first two opening games, in which he started. But, he scored in a spectacular fashion with the beautiful bi-cycle kick in the last group mach against Ireland, coming as a substitute. Balotelli started the quarter-final and semi-final game. In the semi-finals, he scored a brace in the first half to lead his side to the victory. The second goal he scored was an absolute cracker where he fired the shot from outside the box with the speed nearly equals 100 kmph.

Pirlo, who was the man of the match in both the knock out games in the tournament for Italy, has delivering the goods brilliantly. It seems like Prandelli gave permission to Montolivo to run anywhere in the field as the former Fiorentina midfielder was running though the crucial gaps to make the ball moving on. Cassano was brilliant in running back and forth, shooting towards the goal and in the passing abilities. Marchisio looks settled in the right side of the midfield. But this time, the juventus midfielder will be experiencing some sorts of trouble from Xabi Alonso and Alba.

The winner of 2010 World Cup will be battling with the winner of 2006 World Cup for the crown. As being beaten by Spain in the quarter-final stage of Euro 2008, Italians will look for a revenge and it is quite sure that both the teams will come up with an attacking display which will make the game more interesting..