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Euro 2012 Predictions and Preview: Spain vs Italy

Group Elimination C: Sunday, 10 June 2012 - Gdansk - PGE Arena

The most anticipated opener happens on June 10 at the PGE Arena in Gdansk, where the “Red Fury” plays against the “Blues”.


Formerly known as one of Europe's recurrent underachievers, this team went from near obscurity to hands down, becoming the best football team in the world. Spain or the “El Furia Rojo” won the last two major international football tournaments. Their core players coming from Real Madrid and Barcelona, have played more matches than any other players or teams in the world. Overall Spain have won 41 of their last 45 competitive games, drawing two and losing two with a run of 14 consecutive wins in competitive matches.

With all this being said, the players, no matter how gifted are at the risk of potentially fatal problems with fatigue. Age and injury have already sapped the Spaniards of some of their best players.


Considered to be Spain’s worst nightmare, football giants Italy also known as “Azzure” or the “Blues” are probably the only hope for the possibility of toppling Spain’s domination over the Championship scene. To try to overcome their imposing threat and outmuscle Spain's mighty midfield, Italy looks set to play a new system with three at the back and the middle of the park flooded with two wing backs and three bullying players in the centre. With Thiago Motta on their side and the Spanish without striker David Villa and defender Carlos Puyol, they have a good chance at winning.

After Italy's World Cup triumph of 2006 however, the team declined, as their top players began to age and bad squad selection from former manager Marcello Lippi in his attempt to defend the title he won in Germany delayed the emergence of the country's next generation of players. And despite Spain’s aging squad and losing some of its top players, the “Red Fury” still has midfielders Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso meaning that they are still top class.

Predictions: Spain wins 1-0

Spain may have lost striker David Villa and former captain Carlos Puyol to injuries but there is still a near endless line of talent ready to prove themselves. Spain has won two of the last three games against Italy that includes a 4-2 win in Euro 2008. It still however, is a match-up worthy of being dubbed the “Clash of the Titans”.

Euro 2012 Highlights: Heavyweight Match up Spain vs Italy Ends in Draw 1-1

This match lived up to the bill as the clash of heavyweights Spain vs. Italy when down as a thriller ending in a 1-1 draw.

Italy was first to strike blood when striker Antonio Di Natale put Italy in front after when he got a clean set up from fellow mid-fielder Andrea Pirlo in the 61st minute, but, it was Spain’s young stud mid fielder Cesc Fabregas who tied it up for the defending champions three minutes later by finishing off a dazzling display of Spain's trademark passing game.

"Being the favorite now is complicated, but in the end we found the character (to earn a draw)," Fabregas said.

Spain, which is known for its dominance in the Group C match struggled to finish at times, while Italy relied on dangerous counterattacks.

Spanish mid-fielder Xabi Alonso (left) vies with Italian defender Christian Maggio during today's Euro 2012 match.

"The thing that really disappoints us is that we allowed them to equalize very quickly," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "We were playing the world champions and we should have made them work harder to get back into the game. We gave Spain the chance to score goals. We need to improve, but that's our mentality."

Spainhad a 14 game winning streak snapped after this this draw. The streak started after a 1-0 loss to Switzerland to open the last World Cup.

Spain came in with an interesting line up by starting the not so big names in this match, with Fabregas at forward between David Silva and Andres Iniesta — leaving Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente on the bench.

"The first one to be surprised was me," Fabregas said. "I was happy to have the opportunity, happy to be able to play. It's been a month and half since I've played. To get the goal was nice."

Italy countered with an attack of Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli and an untested three-man defense.

Di Natale replaced Balotelli in the 56th and scored five minutes later, collecting a pass from Pirlo just as he slipped in between two defenders, then expertly shooting around Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

The 34-year-old Di Natale has scored 20 or more goals the past three seasons with Udinese in Serie A.

Fabregas' goal from the center of the area concluded a series of passes that started with Iniesta giving the ball to Silva, who then found Fabregas cutting.

  • 90+3' - The second-half is over. The match ends 1-1.
  • 90+1' - Spain's X.Alonso breaks free at PGE Arena Gdansk. But the strike goes wide of the post.
  • 90' - The Second half is prolonged by 3 minutes of added time.
  • 90' - In Gdansk Spain attack through X.Alonso. The finish is off target, however.
  • 89' - Prandelli, Cesare is making the team's Third substitution at PGE Arena Gdansk with Antonio Nocerino replacing Thiago Motta.
  • 89' - Christian Maggio for Italy has been booked by Kassai, Viktor and receives a first yellow card.
  • 89' - In Gdansk Italy drive forward through C.Marchisio. His shot is on target but it's saved.
  • 88' - J.Navas for Spain drives towards goal at PGE Arena Gdansk. But the finish is unsuccessful.
  • 85' - Spain are pushing forward but El Nino's finish is wide of the goal.
  • 84' - Fernando Torres (Spain) gets a yellow card.
  • 84' - Alvaro Arbeloa (Spain) has received a first yellow card.
  • 80' - In Gdansk, Xavi of Spain is presented with a shooting opportunity. But the strike is blocked by the covering defence.
  • 79' - Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) has received a first yellow card.
  • 77' - Italy's A.Di Natale gets his shot away but it misses the target.
  • 76' - Spain's Sergio Busquets has run offside.
  • 74' - del Bosque, Vicente (Spain) is making a Second substitution, with Fernando Torres replacing Cesc Fabregas.
  • 73' - Spain are coming forward and J.Alba gets in a strike, it misses the target, however.
  • 70' - Spain have been awarded a corner by Kassai, Viktor. Xavi steps up to take it.
  • 66' - Jordi Alba (Spain) has been booked and must now be careful not to get a second yellow card.
  • 66' - Leonardo Bonucci (Italy) gets a yellow card.
  • 65' - del Bosque, Vicente is making the team's First substitution at PGE Arena Gdansk with Jesus Navas replacing David Silva.
  • 64' - Sebastian Giovinco is replacing Antonio Cassano for Italy at PGE Arena Gdansk.
  • 64' - Great play from David Silva to set up the goal.
  • 64' - Goal! Cesc Fabregas equalizes to bring the score to 1-1.
  • 63' - Spain drive forward and A.Iniesta gets in a shot. Without netting, however.
  • 61' - Andrea Pirlo instrumental with a fine assist.
  • 61' - Antonio Di Natale scores to make it 0-1 at PGE Arena Gdansk.
  • 58' - Italy drive forward but Antonio Di Natale is judged offside.
  • 56' - Italy make their First substitution with Antonio Di Natale replacing Mario Balotelli.
  • 55' - A.Cassano for Italy gets in a strike but fails to hit the target.
  • 51' - In Gdansk Xavi for Spain takes a corner from the Right-hand flag.
  • 51' - A.Iniesta of Spain gets in a strike, but is off target.
  • 50' - Spain's Xavi breaks free at PGE Arena Gdansk. But the strike goes wide of the post.
  • 50' - Corner awarded to Spain.
  • 50' - Spain push forward through C.Fabregas, whose finish on goal is saved.
  • 46' - Kassai, Viktor has blown to start the second-half.
  • 45' - The first-half has come to a close in Gdansk.
  • 45' - Italy push forward at PGE Arena Gdansk and T.Motta gets in a great header. The attempt is cleared by the Italy defence.
  • 44' - Spain are coming forward and A.Iniesta gets in a strike, it misses the target, however.
  • 43' - At PGE Arena Gdansk Xavi (Spain) takes a corner from the Right.
  • 43' - Spain's C.Fabregas gets in a shot but it is blocked by a Italy defender.
  • 37' - Mario Balotelli (Italy) has received a yellow card from Kassai, Viktor.
  • 36' - C.Marchisio gets his shot on target but fails to score for Italy.
  • 35' - Kassai, Viktor blows against Spain's David Silva for offside.
  • 34' - In Gdansk Italy drive forward through A.Cassano. His shot is on target but it's saved.
  • 30' - Spain's A.Iniesta gets in a shot on goal at PGE Arena Gdansk. But the effort is unsuccessful.
  • 29' - Corner awarded to Spain.
  • 25' - Antonio Cassano for Italy is whistled offside.
  • 25' - A.Iniesta (Spain) gets in a strike but the shot is blocked by a defender.
  • 23' - Italy are pushing forward but A.Cassano's finish is wide of the goal.
  • 20' - Cesc Fabregas of Spain is pulled up for offside.
  • 19' - T.Motta for Italy is back on the field again.
  • 18' - The match at PGE Arena Gdansk is underway again.
  • 18' - The match at PGE Arena Gdansk has been interrupted briefly for a check on T.Motta, who is down injured.
  • 15' - D.Silva (Spain) goes for goal but the shot is blocked by an alert defence.
  • 14' - Italy push forward at PGE Arena Gdansk and T.Motta gets in a strike. This is blocked, however, by a determined Italy defence.
  • 13' - A.Pirlo of Italy smashes in a shot on target. The keeper saves, though.
  • 11' - Spain's D.Silva is on target but unsuccessful.
  • 10' - In Gdansk Andrea Pirlo for Italy takes a corner from the Left-hand flag.
  • 10' - Italy drive upfield and M.Balotelli gets in a shot. The strike is blocked by a Italy defender.
  • 9' - Spain's D.Silva misses with an attempt on goal.
  • 9' - At PGE Arena Gdansk Xavi (Spain) takes a corner from the Right.
  • 7' - Kassai, Viktor has awarded Italy a corner. Andrea Pirlo takes the kick from the Left.
  • 3' - Italy's Antonio Cassano is whistled for offside at PGE Arena Gdansk.
  • 2' - Spain have been awarded a corner by Kassai, Viktor. Xavi steps up to take it.
  • 1' - Today's referee, Kassai, Viktor, has blown to start the match.

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