KATHMANDU: At the final of Euro Cup Championship 2012, which is scheduled to commence on Monday Nepali time (00:30), Spain is vying against Italy in Kiev of Ukraine.
Having beaten Germany 2-1 in Thursday's second semi-final in Warsaw, we are all set to see Italy’s first performance in Euro final since they lost to France in the year 2000.
Regarding Spaniards, they entered into final after the defending champion Spain made a 4-2 victory against Portugal on penalties.
Interestingly, since the 1920 Olympics, Italians have not been trampled by Spain over 90 minutes in competitive match since the 1920 Olympics.
At a time when two teams who drew 1-1 in their opening Group C game are all set to resume hostilities in the final, we are left with scores of speculations. Two hours until kickoff, it is so hard to predict!
Who will shine? Italy’s Andrea Pirlo? Will Spain’s Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alsonso prevail? Or Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas( who scored the winning penalty shoot-out against Portugal in the semi-final ) will draw praise and applause? Or will it be Mario Balotelli’s (who scored two superb goals against Germany) night once again? According to Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli, “the Manchester City striker is flourishing at Euro 2012 because he is surrounded by "great champions".
Spaniards are competing in their fourth European Championships final.
Spain’s first final was in 1964, when they beat the USSR 2-1 on their own land.
Their second final was in 1984, in which they were defeated by France.
They won it in 2008, thrashing Germany at 1-0.
Spain won 2010 World Cup
Italians are in their third final.
They made a victory of 2-0 over Yugoslavia in a replay in 1968.
They lost 2-1 to France in 2000.
Italy won the World Cup in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006.
They also appeared in the final in 1970 and 1994, but lost.
How they reached here?
Won Group C (2-1-0).
Defeated France 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
Beat Portugal 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the semi-finals.
Runner-up in Group C (1-2-0).
Beat England 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the quarter-finals.
Then defeated Germany 2-1 in the semi-finals.
Italy have lost only two of their last 19 matches outright at European Championships. Those losses were in the 2000 final when they went down 2-1 to France in extra time, and a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in a 2008 group game. They went out on penalties to Spain in the quarter-finals that year after a 0-0 draw.
Spain have never defeated Italy in regulation time in a major tournament.
However, Spain has not conceded since that opening draw with Italy and hasn’t conceded a goal in nine elimination games at major tournaments.
“Our first aim will be to shut down space and win the ball. Where we try to win the ball will depend on us and also how good Spain are. For us, it is important to remain focused on our target - close the space in the central midfield,” said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli at a news conference ahead of the game at the Olympic Stadium.
"Our central midfield has a lot of quality, we can cover a lot of ground and press in that area and we have a great player who can raise the level of the game and can get in the right position - and of course that is Andrea Pirlo”.
Things to know:
If Spain win today, they will equal Germany's record of three European titles.
The European final has never been decided by a penalty shootout in 13 previous tournaments.
Spain have met Italy seven times before in major tournaments and never managed an outright win.
The only success Italy made was in a penalty shootout at Euro 2008 in the quarter-finals following a 0-0 draw. The two met in the group stage at this tournament and drew 1-1.
If Mario Balotelli, who slotted two goals in Italy's 2-1 semi-final victory over Germany, finds the net again he could take home the golden boot award with four goals.
Balotelli shares the lead on three goals with Alan Dzagoev of Russia, Mario Gomez of Germany, Mario Mandzukic of Croatia and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.