Spain vs. Italy
Date: Sunday, July 1, 2012
Location: Olympic Stadium (Kiev, Ukraine)
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
Spain comes into this match looking to become the first back-to-back winners of the European championship and the first side to win three straight majors (it won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup) and is on a major roll, winning 32 of its last 35 competitive games.
But Italy proved it deserves to be here, ending Germany’s 15-game winning streak on two first-half Mario Balotelli goals in the semifinals.
And, like Spain, La Nazzionale has yet to lose in this tournament.
One huge reason both are still standing is the stellar play of their captains and goalkeepers—maybe the two best in the world right now—Spain’s Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus).
Casillas has allowed just one goal (to Italy’s Antonio Di Natale in the opener), and Spain is on a mind-boggling run of nine straight shutouts in knockout rounds of major tournaments, with the last goal being scored on them coming in the 2006 World Cup, by France’s Zinedine Zidane.
As it does against all opponents, Spain won the possession battle (60-40 percent) in the Group C opener and topped Italy in total attempts (18-10) and shots on target (9-4), but they needed a second-half Cesc Fàbregas (Barcelona) equalizer in the game to get the draw.
And rematches like this have been a big part of the Euros.
Since switching to a 16-team format 16 years ago—Euro 2016, in France, will increase to include 24 teams and have 51 games—three out of the five tourneys have now ended with such rematches.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
So this one is basically anyone’s game and, quite honestly, a match to best just be watched and not to be bet on.