Italy lost to Spain 0-4
Goal scorers: David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres, and Juan Matta (Spain)
The much awaited final of the UEFA Euro 2012 kicked off in Kiev with a Spanish fight leading to the Italian goal post. Spain demonstrated excellent footballing skills, with even the defenders joining the attack, unexpectedly, and with rapid pace. When the Italian defence was depleted, came David Silva’s goal. That took the Italians by shock but that’s when they generally play their best football. Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli led fights near the Spanish goal, but they failed to reach the target. Riccardo Montolivo shot a stunner but St Iker Casillas saved it from crossing the goal line. Italy had to make an early substitution when they replaced Giorgio Chiellini with Federico Balzaretti. The replacement charged down the left wing and created some opportunities though none of them could be converted by the others. Another speedy move by the Spanish killed the Italian confidence of a return into the match when Jordi Alba triggered one past Gigi Buffon into the net to make Spain go two up at the break.
Italy made a half-time change by replacing Cassano with Antonio Di Natale who scored in the group match against Spain. The moment Di Natale looked to be in good touch, coach Cesare Prandelli made another change, this time in the midfield. Montolivo was replaced with Thiago Motta, but that turned out to be fatal for Italy. Motta played for just three minutes, managed to pull a muscle, and had to be carried off the ground. That left Italy with just 10 men to play for most of the second half. The match turned truly one sided from then and the Italian body language suggested that they had accepted the defeat. The substitutions could not work the way Prandelli would have desired. He lost an option when Chiellini was injured and lost another when Motta was injured. After two goals were conceded, Italy could have gone in with the attacking Alessandro Diamanti instead of Motta. No credit to be taken away from Spain, they looked a more organised team with a passion for victory. Italy were mentally down the moment the first goal was scored against them. Fernando Torres got to play in the closing minutes of the match and didn’t he show his class? He himself scored from a soft touch and assisted Juan Matta to hit the last nails on the Italian coffin. The four strikes from four different players made them the champions of Euro 2012. They now have a Euro cup each on either sides of their 2010 World Cup win!
Italy played well in the tournament and they can go back holding their heads high. Nobody expected them to make it to the final. They played excellent football throughout; just that this wasn’t their night in Kiev. They also had a problem playing with just 10 men for most of the second half. The midfield diamond was broken with that, and even Balotelli had to drop back to the midfield. The defence got depleted when they played forward. That was when Spain hit back with two more. But having said all these, there is no denying the fact that Spain indeed played very well in the tournament, perhaps with the exception of the match against Portugal. Italy takes good memories from the tournament. The team, under Prandelli, showed more firepower in the attack, evident from their 100+ shots on goal in the tournament. They have a good mix of young players for the future, including Diamanti and Emanuele Giaccherini. Diamanti has all the potential to become a super star. Watch out for him at the 2014 World Cup!