Matchpack: Spain v Italy

Team news, match facts and quotes ahead of the 2012 European Championship final between Spain and Italy at Kiev's Olimpiyskiy Stadium.



Spain have no injury problems to speak of so Vicente del Bosque's only real concern is the composition of his three-man attack. Cesc Fabregas is expected to start as a false nine ahead of Alvaro Negredo, who surprisingly started the semi-final against Portugal, and Fernando Torres, who has also played in the role at Euro 2012. Fabregas should be flanked by Andres Iniesta and David Silva, even though Pedro has looked close to forcing his way into Del Bosque's plans of late.

Italy strikers Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli have complained of a knee injury and cramp respectively but will both start the final in Kiev. Italy - who will resist the temptation to switch to the 3-5-2 formation they used in their group game against Spain - have Christian Maggio back from suspension and Ignazio Abate returns from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the semi-final against Germany, but it is the latter who is expected to start at right-back on Sunday. Federico Balzaretti will therefore be displaced but with Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli impressing in the centre, Giorgio Chiellini is likely to continue at left-back with Balzaretti dropping to the bench.


Vicente del Bosque: "We cannot look back. We can't think that history influences anything. Italy have won the World Cup four times, we won it two years ago. Of course there is some history, but now me must look at the present. I think we've had similar tournaments. We've both had to win on penalties in our matches, we were both in the same group, and our style of play is similar. I don't think you can say there's a great difference between the teams. We can't stay in the last century. Football is evolving. Of course there's been a change, and our players have also changed, but the nucleus of our team is the same. You can't say that we haven't tried to change anything and that we've remained the same team."

Cesare Prandelli: "I hope we can be positive and take the game to them. Our first aim will be to shut down space and win the ball. Where we try to win the ball will depend on us and also how good Spain are. For us, it is important to remain focused on our target - close the space in the central midfield. Our central midfield has a lot of quality, we can cover a lot of ground and press in that area and we have a great player who can raise the level of the game and can get in the right position - and of course that is Andrea Pirlo. We have to pick our moments so that we can have a numerical superiority in certain areas of the field, we don't expect to be in charge of the game from the outset."


It will be the fourth time a Euro final takes place between teams who met earlier in the tournament. It happened in 1988 (Netherlands-USSR), 1996 (Germany-Czech Republic) & 2004 (Greece-Portugal).

Italy and Spain are facing each other for the 31st time in their history. The Italians hold the advantage with 10 wins to Spain’s eight. 12 draws complete the picture.

Italy are unbeaten against Spain at major tournaments (penalties shoot-outs excluded), with three wins and four draws. Nevertheless, Spain managed to qualify in their last encounter in knockout games, it was at the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 (0-0 after 120 mins, 4-2 after penalties).

Cesare Prandelli has faced Spain twice as Italy head-coach and has never lost. Italy beat them in a friendly in August 2011 (2-1) before drawing in their opening game of Euro 2012 (1-1).

Spain haven’t conceded a single goal in their last 900 minutes of action in major tournament knockout games, a streak which started in the quarter finals of Euro 2008.

Spain are the second European side to reach the final of three consecutive major tournaments, after West Germany (Euro 72, World Cup 74, Euro 76).

Spain could become the first team in history to successfully defend their European Championship title. They would also become the first European side to win three consecutive major tournaments.

Spain have won 75% of their finals at major tournaments (three out of four), the best ratio for European sides who have played more than one final alongside France.

Italy have reached their ninth final at major tournaments (three at European Championships, six at the World Cup). They’ve won 63%.

Italy are the only side who have never trailed at any time during Euro 2012.

Spain have the best defensive record at Euro 2012 with only one goal conceded. In their last two games combined (quarter-final v France & semi-final v Portugal), Spain have only faced one shot on target.

Spain have conceded only 12 shots on target at Euro 2012, 50% of those were against Italy in their opening game (6).

Spain have always dominated possession in their seven games at World Cup 2010 and five games at Euro 2012. Germany, in the final of Euro 2008, are the last side to dominate possession against La Roja.

Italy and Spain have had the most shots at Euro 2012: 99 and 86 respectively.

Italy have picked up the most bookings at Euro 2012: 15. That’s five more than Spain (10).

The Azzurri are unbeaten in their 15 competitive games under Cesare Prandelli: 10 wins and five draws.

Five Spanish players (Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos) have completed more passes than Italy’s most prolific player in that department, Andrea Pirlo (320 passes).

Mario Balotelli scored as many goals against Germany in the semi-finals as he did in his 12 previous caps for Italy. He’s scored Italy’s last three goals at Euro 2012.

Balotelli has had the most shots on target at Euro 2012: 10.

Balotelli has become the first Italian player to score three goals in a European Championships tournament.

Gianluigi Buffon has played 24 matches at major tournaments, equalling Dino Zoff’s Italian record. He’s still four short of the record holder among goalkeepers, Spain’s Iker Casillas (28).

Andres Iniesta is the player who’s had the most shots on target without scoring at the European Championships, since 1980: 11 shots on target, 0 goal.

Cesc Fabregas and Santiago Cazorla are the most used substitutes in the history of the European Championships (alongside Holland’s Aron Winter), having been brought on seven times.


Spain, Italy 11/4, Draw 21/10.


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