Archive for July 1st, 2012
Your ITDs are back, this time round with our very last post covering the Euro Cup ’12!
RECAP: Semi-Final – Spain vs. Portugal
Spain and Portugal fought for a place in the Euro 12 Finals on Thursday with Spain eventually winning the game on penalties (4-2) after neither side managed to score.
The game was hotly contested and it was a close battle between the two sides. The Spanish tried out a new formation with a striker (Alvaro Negredo) instead of the usual midfielder. However Negredo was ineffective and he was substituted by Fabregas in the second half.
The Spanish started the game brightly threatening with two good chances. The Portuguese soon wrested back control and Cristiano Ronaldo’s low shot was just wide of the post. As the game progressed, Spain focused more on possession and keeping the ball, while Portugal was unable to get hold of the ball for long periods of time and were unable to attack. Their main attacker was Cristiano Ronaldo, who used every opportunity to threaten the Spanish defence, through free kicks and long range shots.
However it was to no avail and the game proceeded into extra time. Spain then dominated the game against the tired Portuguese side and came close to breaking the deadlock twice through Iniesta and Jesus Navas. However they were excellently denied both times by the Portuguese keeper, Rui Patricio.
The two sides failed to score in extra time and the match proceeded to penalties, with Spain starting first. Xabi Alonso fired a powerful shot to the bottom corner but his shot was expertly palmed away by Rui Patricio.
Iker Casillas evened out the score by saving from Joao Moutinho’s penalty.
Iniesta then scored his penalty before Pepe squeezed his penalty past Casillas. Pique and Nani both converted their penalties, spicing things up. Ramos scored a superb ‘panenka’ penalty, chipping it calmly over Patricio.
Portugal’s Bruno Alves then stepped up to take the penalty. However, his shot hit the woodwork, giving Spain the advantage in the penalties.
Fabregas made no mistake from the spot, slotting home the ball past Patricio.
With that, Spain sealed their place for their second consecutive final of the European Championship.
Semi-finals 2 review
Semi-Final: Germany vs. Italy
Moving on to the second semi-finals match which saw Italy take on Germany, Italy’s solid display and in particular, Andrea Pirlo’s masterful skills that proved to be downfall for the German side as Germany crashed out after a shocking 2-1 loss against Prandelli’s side. This match proved to be the biggest upset, as the highly anticipated showdown between Germany and Spain was thwarted by Italy’s surprising victory.
Statistically, it was Germany who proved to be the more dominant side – they had as many as 14 corners while Italy had none. However, the result favoured Italy in the end, and in many ways, they were deserving of it. The Germans were uncharacteristically weak at the back — and Italy showed all its traditional qualities of defending tightly and being comfortable in possession to hold out the speedy German offence.
Meanwhile in offence, it was Andrea Pirlo who proved to be the master playmaker, creating chance after chance for the Italian offence, culminating in two fabulous strikes from Mario Balotelli that gave Italy the coveted ticket to the finals.
The first half produced a rather even battle for both sides. Both teams had their attacking chances, probing each other’s defence and testing the 2 goalkeepers on several occasions. However, Germany’s backline failed to hold out in the 20th minute, as Mario Balotelli converted with a close-range header from a beautiful cross by Antonio Cassano.
With Germany trailing, Low’s side quickly stepped up their offence, but none of the shots could get past Italy’s legendary skipper and keeper Gianluigi Buffon. Italy, on the other hand, was quick on the counter attack and held on to possession well as they looked to extend their lead. Finally, their chance came once again in the 36th minute. A quick break from Italy saw Riccardo Montolivo put a long ball past the German backline. Mario Balotelli was on the other end of that pass and he lashed the ball into the top right corner from the edge of the area, a wonderful strike that gave Italy a 2-0 supremacy over Germany in half time.
After the restart, Germany pushed forward fiercely looking for a comeback, as German coach Joachim Low looked to strengthen the offensive prowess of Germany by bringing on Thomas Muller in place of defender Jerome Boateng. However, Italy’s organized defence and Buffon’s supreme goalkeeping skills withstood waves after waves of attacks. Even as Manuel Neuer twice advanced deep into Italy’s half in a desperate attempt to save the match, Italy proved strong and resolute, denying Germany of all their shots on goal.
In the 92nd minute, Germany finally broke through the Italian defence, with Mezut Ozil scoring from the penalty spot after a hand ball by Italian right back Federico Balzaretti.
Despite pulling back by 1 goal, it proved to be too late as Italy advanced into the finals with a 2-1 win.
Euro’12 Finals Match Analysis Spain VS Italy
And finally, the long-awaited finals! Tonight, Italy and Spain will meet each other in the Olympic Stadium, Kiev, for their final showdown watched by a global audience watching their every move. Not familiar with the two contenders? Fret not, as we have included a detailed match analysis of both teams, as well as a prediction from each IT director!
Another boring game? Maybe not. Spain coach, Vincente Del Bosque, has promised three attackers in tonight’s match! However, it is still expected that Spain’s game style will be the same, which revolves around possession and fluid movement. With imperious Barcelona duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi dominating the midfield, the Spanish have shown what it takes to be champions through their amazing passing styles. The approach calls on all 10 outfield players to keep the ball moving until the opportunity comes, then Spain will go for the kill.
However, Spain has shown their weaknesses. In the semi-final against Portugal, Spain did not manage to sustain their distinctive, characteristic game. In the 90 minutes of play, they did not handle either space or time well. They gave the impression that they were suffering from Portugal’s game plan. Portugal did not give Spain much space, and had anticipated and disrupted their moves. Even though Spain came back stronger in theextra time, it was probably luck that pushed them into the finals after a 4-2 penalty win over Portugal.
Will Vicente del Bosque’s revered pass masters make history tonight by winning a third successive major title in Kiev, Ukraine? They might not have not fared very well in the previous matches, but they have shown that they have the luck and the experience! They are sure to be tonight’s favourites!
Key Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez
Italy has been the black horse of this tournament, beating hot favourites, Germany, to cruise into tonight’s finals against Spain.
From a side that was knocked out during the group stage in 2010’s World Cup to finalists of the Euro’12, Italy has shown how much they have improved. To conquer such a great feat, Italy probably has their coach Cesare Prandelli to thank for. He has put together a well-organised team, with players who are willing to retrieve the ball and adhere to the idea of fighting for possession.
Italy’s game plan tonight relies heavily on Pirlo, who is the genius strategist and playmaker of Italy. A single pass by him can leave a man one to one. Pirlo is always capable of finding himself extra time and space and has been able to threaten every side Italy have faced with his long, accurate delivery. He is like a magician, dictating the pace and direction of play with his trickery and sorcery.
The Italians are also hard to break down, with Daniele De Rossi tasked with anchoring Italy’s defence and proving himself very dangerous on the counterattack. With Balotelli and Cassano, forming the perfect partnership and linking up all over the pitch with their one-twos, counter attacks and crosses, Italy certainly stands a chance to upset defending champions, Spain, in tonight’s clash!
Key Players: Pirlo, Balotelli, Cassano, Buffon
Patrick’s Prediction: Spain 2 – Italy 2 (Spain wins on penalties)
In the game tonight, Italy would probably play its standard 3-5-2 formation. Pirlo will be crucial to Italy’s victory in tonight’s finals, with his long-range accurate passes, giving Italy an edge over Spain in its aerial battles. This is in favour of Italy if Balotelli and Cassano can capitalise on their chances tonight, especially since Cesare Prandelli knows that Spain’s weakness lies in the counter attack and set pieces. However, they would face a greater threat if Spain is fielding 3 attackers.
Spain, on the other hand, will play its usual hold-ball game. It is expected to pose a higher scoring threat for Italy though, if it is fielding 3 attackers as promised by Vincente Del Bosque. However, they face a constant threat in the form of Italy’s Pirlo. No one has succeeded in stopping this tournament’s star player – Wayne Rooney failed; Toni Kroos failed; others did not even try. Perhaps Sergio Busquets would be asked to get close to him, or Spain could simply flood midfield and retain possession. Lastly, I think Spain might consider fielding a winger Jesús Navas or Pedro Rodriguez in its starting line-up tonight so they can attack Italy more effectively from the flanks.
The teams ended in a 1-1 draw in their previous encounter in the group stage. It is a close fight between the two and I think penalties will determine tonight’s winner, with Spain eventually having the upper hand.
Leslie’s Prediction: Spain 0 – Italy 0 (Spain wins on extra time)
I’m predicting a draw after 90 minutes – both teams seem evenly matched in most aspects and while Spain is the hot favourite, Italy is no pushover as well. They will certainly not take on a defensive approach like France did, and instead go all out to probe the Spanish defence led by world class keeper and skipper Iker Casillas. Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, Spain would look to pounce on any loopholes in Italy’s iron defence, as legendary Gianluigi Buffon organises his defence to keep out Spain’s creative attacking displays.
The extra time might eventually turn out to be a replay of the 2010 Spain – Netherlands World Cup Final. Spain’s supremacy will prevail with a late winner in extra time, and with that, they would become the first national team to win 2 successive Euro Cup tournaments and 3 International Championships in a row.
Suhas’ Prediction: Spain 2 – Italy 0
I expect Spain to have a relatively easy game against Italy. Spain’s superior technical skills would enable them to keep the ball for long periods effectively stifling Italy’s attacking capabilities, allowing Spain to triumph over Italy easily. The creativity of Spain’s Xavi and Iniesta would be too difficult for Italy’s defenders to handle, and even the experience of veteran Italian keeper, Gianluigi Buffon would not be able to save Italy.
Furthermore, the Spanish backline has been reliable throughout the tournament with the likes of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique at the centre. At the flanks, they have Jordi Alba and Alvaro Arbeloa. Jordi Alba in particular has been outstanding this tournament, providing deadly crosses upfront from the left flank. Spain also have an excellent shot-stopper in the form of their skipper, Iker Casillas. Casillas has been leading Spain by example throughout the tournament making crucial saves in both the group and knockout stages.
Well, that concludes our (somewhat lengthy) match analysis. While all three of us are rooting for Spain, we know some of you out there are Italy fans too! Regardless of whom you support, just sit back, relax, and watch the action unfold! We hope you enjoy the game!
your ITDs – Patrick, Leslie & Suhas!