By Tom Robin, EnStarz | Jul 01, 2012 02:11 PM EDT
Spain vs. Italy in the Euro 2012 final kicks off Sunday as the 2008 European champions and 2010 World Cup winners Spain look to make it three major tournament wins in a row by beating 2006 World Cup winners Italy. The match kicks off at 2.45 p.m. EST and can be watched live in ESPN, or online through live stream on ESPN3 (details below).
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Italy will be looking to strike partners Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano to lead the way and do what no team has done against Spain since 2006 - score against them in the knock out rounds of a major tournament. Balotelli delighted Azzurri fans in the semi finals when he scored twice to defeat one of the tournament favorites Germany 2-1. Italy will be hoping the young striker can do the same in today's final, but Spain's defense, as their record suggests, could prove harder to break down than Germany's.
If Italy are to break down Spain key playmaker Andrea Pirlo will be the central person. He pulls the strings in the center of the park for the Azzurri, and will be vital for Italy if they are to surprise the world of soccer and beat Spain in Sunday's final. Pirlo teased the English in the quarter finals, controlling the game and dictating possession throughout the match which Italy eventually won via a penalty shoot out. The English, however, were not fancied coming into the tournament, having a new manager installed just weeks before, and losing a number of key players to injury in the build up to Euro 2012. So some took Pirlo's influence in that game with a pinch of salt. However, no one can deny his world class performance against Germany in the semi finals.
Germany have one of the most powerful and skilled midfields in the world, yet they simply could not find a way to deal with Pirlo. Rumors were the Germans changed their tactics in an attempt to dampen the threat posed by Pirlo, but it was an effort that backfired badly as he formed the backbone of everything Italy did as they defeated the German team many thought had the best chance of dethroning Spain.
Spain, however, will be an entirely different prospect; they have the experience of champions and seemingly do not know how to concede goals or lose. They have greater composure and will happily attempt to starve Italy of the ball for minutes at a time. Whether this renewed Italy side which has surprised so many in this tournament can cope with the experience and skill of Spain remains to be seen.
Spain vs. Italy kicks off at 2.45 p.m. EST and can be watched live on ESPN or online through live streaming on ESPN3 by clicking HERE.
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