Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev Date: 1st July Kick-off Time: 19:45 BST
Surprise package Italy will contest the Euro 2012 final against reigning champions Spain on Sunday night in what will hopefully prove to be a fitting climax to what has been an exciting and unpredictable tournament.
It is certain to be a tight game, as it was just a few weeks ago when the two teams drew against each other in the opening game of Group B. This time there will be a definitive outcome and with the stakes so high, both teams will be going all out to bring the trophy home.
La Roja have no fresh injury or suspension concerns.
Vincente Del Bosque has reached the final without yet deciding on what the perfect strike force is for his side, with the Fernando Torres looking a shadow of his former self. Del Bosque has also tried Negredo up top, but there is no obvious answer and it would not be altogether surprising to see Cesc Fabregas again playing in the ‘false nine’ position in the final, especially after demonstrating his nerve and composure firing the winning penalty against Portugal.
Christian Maggio will most likely return to the Italy side after seeing out his suspension against Germany, with Federico Balzaretti likely to make way. Ignazio Abate and Giorgio Chiellini have also fully recovered from injury troubles earlier in the tournament. Mario Balotelli is a very minor concern after suffering from back and muscle cramp in the second half of the Germany game, but he is unlikely to be ruled out which could prove to be massive for the Italians after his imperious showing against Germany.
Spain have a poor record against Italy in their seven encounters, with Spain only coming out on top once (at Euro 2008 at the quarter final stage), and it took penalties to separate them after a goalless 120 minutes.
Italy have won four, Spain have won one, and there have been two draws when these two have gone head to head in the past. The last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw a few weeks ago with goals from Di Natale and Cesc Fabregas.
Predicted line up
Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Silva, Alonso, Busquets, Fabregas
Italy: Buffon, Maggio, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini, Pirlo, De Rossi, Marchisio, Montolivo, Cassano, Balotelli
Spain vs Italy betting
At the start of the tournament an Italy conquest looked almost inconceivable. Now however, the Italians have hit form and will come out all guns blazing. Spain have somewhat failed to catch the imagination as they have previously, winning without the style and confidence with which they have won in recent years. In form and confident Italy are at 3/1 (4.00) to beat the Spanish with BetFred.
First goal scorer should be interesting, but it is difficult to look further than Mario Balotelli. Spain have changed their front line almost every game, which has led to inconsistency. After his stellar showing vs Germany, Balotelli will believe he has what it takes to score against Spain. Amongst numerous suspensions, Balotelli had a decent season for City, and has a knack of scoring in the big games (for example vs Man Utd and vs Germany). He is a fantastic 7/1 (8.00) to open the scoring with bwin. For those interested, volatile Balotelli is also at 9/1 (10.00) to score, be booked and be substituted with 888sport.
Spain have conceded in 45% of their last 20 games, and Italy have conceded in 55% of their last 20 games. This suggests that both teams are prone to lapses of concentration in defence especially as the goals conceded were often against relatively weak opposition. Both teams to score is at 11/10 (2.10) with bwin.
Italy and Spain are very evenly matched, so it is likely to be a neck and neck encounter. With Italy having arguably more momentum behind them, and a fantastic history against Spain, Italy to win by 1 goal looks good at 7/2 (4.50) with 888sport.
Pirlo has been instrumental in getting Italy to the final, picking up the man of the match award in almost all of their games so far. Whilst he will have less time than usual on the ball against Spain, the Juventus man is an absolutely world class player and has as good a chance as anyone as emerging from the game as man of the match. BetFred have him down at 5/1 (6.00) to do so.
Spain vs Italy predictions
These are two evenly matched teams in a game that means everything, and Italy just looked irrepressible at times against Germany. Spain will no doubt fight hard and have more possession, but with a spine of Buffon, Chiellini, Pirlo and Balotelli with ample support all around them, Italy have enough to become champions of Europe.
Score prediction: Spain 1-2 Italy
Tip: Italy +0.5 Asian handicap at 4/5 (1.80) with Bet365
by Tom Sainty
Check these special free bet offers from our selected partners:-- -