Spain is one victory away from pulling off the first-ever three-peat in terms of international major tournaments. They have won the Euro 2008 tournament, 2010 World Cup and are poised to host the Euro 2012 trophy. This would certify their status as the top team in all of international soccer. We could be in the midst of the first dynasty in the history of soccer. No David Villa? No problem for the Spaniards as Xavi Alonso, Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas have stepped in and filled the void immensely. Spain finds itself in the Euro 2012 final again after a penalty-shootout victory over the Portugese in the semi-finals. Of course, one has to wonder how different things would have been if Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t decided to be the 5th man in penalty kicks.
On the other hand, the Italians find themselves back in a major international final for the first time since the 2006 World Cup Final. They have been powered by tournament scoring co-leader Mario Balotelli. Balotelli is one of the more controversial figures in all of soccer. His highs on the field have been nullified by his lows on and off of the pitch. Balotelli helped lead Manchester City to its tremendous comeback over Manchester United in the Premier League culminating in their first championship in over 40 years. Inter Milan fans are aware of the impact that he made during his tenure there.
With two goals against the high-powered Germans, Mario Balotelli has made his biggest mark in international football to date. Yet, it is possible that Balotelli may not be the toast of Italy even if he were to lead his country to victory on Sunday. He has been the subject of tremendous controversy. Balotelli has been Public Enemy #1 when it has come to the significant racism that has been undertaken by various soccer fans. Balotelli has threatened “to kill” any fans that throw a banana at him on the street. He has even been the target of racism by his own fans while he was at Inter Milan.
Spain and Italy played to a 1-1 draw in the Euro 2012 group stage. These two nations anchored Group C. One has to be surprised that Germany and/or Netherlands are not in the Euro 2012 finals. The Dutch’s 0 point performance in the group stage has to be the shocker of Euro 2012. It has recently come to light that there were internal issues between key players and the now-ousted Dutch coach Bert Von Marwijk. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael Van Der Vaart did not get along with the former coach and were set to be taken off the team due to their strained relationship.
If I’m a betting man, I would take Spain to win the Euro 2012 Final over Italy. Spain is on an equal plain with the Italians in terms of defense. I believe their creative advantage on offense will be enough to beat Italy.
However, one cannot help but wonder if Balotelli has saved his best for last.