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The Final: Spain v Italy

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    The Final: Spain v Italy

    Portugal are one of the few sides with almost comparable technique. Plus they have an exceptional forward in Ronaldo who casues problems on his own, so they didn't have to ask their holding midfielders to push forward to make themselves a threat, meaning they could attack whilst retaining defensive cover. And even then Portugal managed about one shot on target, before running out of steam after 75 minutes and hanging on desperately for penalties.

    There is a comment upthread about Spain, Xavi in particular, making more forward passes than in other games, slid down the side of defenders for midfielders sprinting through the lines. Again, I think that comes down to two things, both of which are more to do with Italy's set-up than with Spain showing more intent; fewer bodies back to clog up the passing lanes and the Italy defence playing higher up the pitch than previous sides had done, leaving more space for players to run into. So Spain were able to try more killer passes as there was a much greater chance of those passes being successful.

    I wonder what the Italian press will make of Marchisio's performance tonight. He was on all match, and did precisely nothing.

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      The Final: Spain v Italy

      To pick up on GO, the counter factual chance was the one Di Natale had a few minutes into the half. If it goes in, the match is different.

      Congratulations to Spain, who have a truly golden generation.

      Italy over-achieved and should be able to build on this.

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        The Final: Spain v Italy

        Marchisio did make one gut-busting run defensively to stop one of the Spanish players who was nearly through on goal, but otherwise, he did disappoint. (although he had a great tournament)

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          The Final: Spain v Italy

          Re: Marchisio

          Agree he was the least impressive of the Italian midfield tonight (in fact he was poor). I thought Montolivo being subbed was a pretty odd decision.

          I do think Spain played with much more attacking intent tonight (from the very start of the game) than in any of their other games.

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            The Final: Spain v Italy

            Janik wrote:
            Originally posted by Beltrano Carpinteiro
            I wonder if this Spanish performance backs up the tiredness theory for their lack of spark in the rest of the tournament?

            In that, with at least six weeks or so before their next game, the players are finally giving everything they had been holding in reserve in the games up until now knowing they will get some kind of rest after their exertions.
            I think it had more to do with Italy being the first side to try and go at them. Result was it opened up space, and Italy got ripped to shreds.
            If you don't have the ability to match Spain in keeping possesion, your only hope is to pack the defence in front of them and hope you might nick a goal on a rare counter, whilst they fail to pick their way through the crowd. i.e. the sort of game every other team has tried against Spain this tournament.
            Indeed, Spain essentially knocked the Azzurri out in the first half hour, well before fatigue became an issue.

            Scratch, re: the ref, he should have whistled that handball PK, he probably would have if the score were even, Italy already down 2-0 might have factored in his non-call.

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              The Final: Spain v Italy

              The handball and Ramos getting fouled late would have been called in any other situation you'd think. But otherwise, I didn't think about the ref, and on replay the questionable tackles were all rightly punished.

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                The Final: Spain v Italy

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                  The Final: Spain v Italy

                  I wondered how that'd done it so quickly, but that's 2008 - they obviously had it ready. Impressive

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                    The Final: Spain v Italy

                    Evan Evian wrote:
                    Originally posted by satchmo76
                    Not sure I agree about the role of Motta's injury. It occurred at around the 60th minute. Had Italy done anything between the 2nd goal and the injury to suggest they might score one let alone two? I would say no, and also that Spain were still threatening to score a third.
                    Do you mean apart from the two great chances for Di Natale to score?
                    Rooney would have converted on at least one of those.

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                      The Final: Spain v Italy

                      ursus arctos wrote: To pick up on GO, the counter factual chance was the one Di Natale had a few minutes into the half. If it goes in, the match is different.
                      Which came from poor positional defensive play from Jordi Alba, who was a couple of yards deeper than his centre-backs and so playing Di Natale onside. To add a note of caution to all those Barcelona fans who are congratulating themselves on signing him...

                      Also, if we are doing the counter-factual, Spain had a very good shout for a penalty turned down and the Fabregas dribble along the goalline that ended with Abate hacking clear as Iniesta was about to tap in, all before the best Di Natale chance. Like Germany-England in 2010, the side on top were that much ahead of their opponents and creating so many chances that a minor setback wasn't going to phase them. Even if Di Natale's chance goes in, this match is the same.

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                        The Final: Spain v Italy

                        Like Cassano and one or two others, I think Marchisio was shagged out. Plus, the way Italy were set up and the game went, he had to press the man on the ball so much of the time he had little left to make those forward runs and was slow and jaded in possession.

                        He's had a fine tournament, though, as they all have, in excess of what most anyone was expecting, performance and results wise, which I think should be the overriding message.

                        They've come a long way quickly in the last two years (few weeks really) and there's some optimism in the team again.

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                          The Final: Spain v Italy

                          I missed the half-time substitution, coming back to the coverage seconds into the second half. It took me a fair while to decide that it was Cassano who had gone rather than Marchisio. And that was simply because Cassano would have been in a less crowded area of the field, so his absence was easier to ascertain, rather than Marchisio getting possesion or making a tackle. I honestly cannot remember him getting involved in the game at all in the second-half. Which made the removal of Montolivo instead a bit mystifying. Perhaps Marchisio was keeping such a low presence that he was off Prandelli's radar?

                          Also, can someone confirm it was Iniesta who played Fabregas in for the first goal? I think it was him, but the replay isn't that clear. The other defence splitting passes were Xavi, Xavi and Busquets, I believe.

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                            The Final: Spain v Italy

                            linusz wrote:
                            Originally posted by Evan Evian
                            Originally posted by satchmo76
                            Not sure I agree about the role of Motta's injury. It occurred at around the 60th minute. Had Italy done anything between the 2nd goal and the injury to suggest they might score one let alone two? I would say no, and also that Spain were still threatening to score a third.
                            Do you mean apart from the two great chances for Di Natale to score?
                            Rooney would have converted on at least one of those.
                            Rooney must be kicking himself that he plays for such a poor nation that he will never play in major international final. A crime against football no doubt.

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                              The Final: Spain v Italy

                              Obviously, having enjoyed Spain's performances anyway and having been happy for either to win, I am happy. I still think with 11 men that Spain would have got a third and won but a 3-1 would have been great. Pirlo was always going to get less time with the Spanish and Mario just didn't get into his stride today. Damn shame about Motta's injury though.

                              I hope the tonight's performance doesn't stop teams from trying to take the game to Spain though and the Portugal's game encourages it. Portugal were a touch more technical ability and adventure in shooting away from beating them in open play.

                              For all sorts of reasons, not a classic tournament and, due to the injury, not a classic final but really pleased the way the final four were who they were and that no-one did a Holland 2010. Also, Spain have another WC pretty much unchanged, Portugal and Germany are both young teams and Italy are potentially very good (albeit without Pirlo) so, hopefully, it is all looking good for 2014.

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                                The Final: Spain v Italy

                                Nice work Spain - they were on fire today and put on a ridiculously powerful display.

                                Motta's injury was unfortunate, but there's no way I'd given them much of a chance to equalize even w/ 11 men.

                                Glad to see Balotelli not blow a gasket - hope he can get after it next year and play the game minus the BS.

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                                  The Final: Spain v Italy

                                  Just how much did Italy punch above their weight to even be in the final? They looked to be the weakest of the semi-finalists this time last week after failing to score against a poor team in the quarters.

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                                    The Final: Spain v Italy

                                    I still think not going with the 3-5-2 was a mistake too, especially with the fit personnel available.
                                    I think when you go with wing backs then you are putting a really heavy workload on them. The pair they used in the first game against Spain did well, but boy did they tire in the last half hour.

                                    Their options were a bit limited tonight with Abate and Chiellini both a long way from full fitness. It would have been harsh to try and make them do that job in their condition.

                                    Tricky though. They needed conservative full backs in a four man defence. They needed at least five in midfield to try and close down channels. They needed at least two men up front as a single striker would just get lost against Ramos and Pique. Well, two strikers got lost against them even.

                                    So Italy really needed to be able to play with 13 players tonight.

                                    I wonder if any other nation has started with three different players at both right back and left back over the course of a six game tournament like this.

                                    Spain - Maggio & Giacherinni
                                    Croatia - Maggio & Giacherinni
                                    Ireland - Abate & Balzaretti
                                    England - Abate & Balzaretti
                                    Germany - Balzaretti & Chiellini
                                    Spain - Abate & Chiellini

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                                      The Final: Spain v Italy

                                      Also, can someone confirm it was Iniesta who played Fabregas in for the first goal? I think it was him, but the replay isn't that clear. The other defence splitting passes were Xavi, Xavi and Busquets, I believe.
                                      Yes, Iniesta set up Fabregas to set up Silva for the first.

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                                        The Final: Spain v Italy

                                        At half-time, I got a text from a friend which said that Spain had gone for the throat because they knew this Italian team could beat them if they turned in the same dreary, drone-like type of performance as against France and Portugal. There's a lot of truth in that.

                                        Spain were excellent -- and it's hugely irritating that they deliberately choose not to play like that in 90% of their matches -- but the game was a farce after Motta was stretchered off. Italy were out on their feet for the final half-hour and didn't remotely deserve to lose 4-0.

                                        dalliance wrote: He had a good semi but Balotelli has had a pretty mixed tournament it must be said.
                                        "Mixed" is being very kind. Balotelli had five starts and was downright poor in four of them. His astonishing shitness against England could well have cost Italy a place in the semi-finals.

                                        Tony C wrote: Well, you could say the same about Pirlo.
                                        No, you could not. Pirlo was fantastic in all of Italy's games up to tonight, and would still be my pick for man of the tournament -- no Spanish or German midfielder or forward excelled consistently for as long in the competition as he did. Balotelli managed one good display in the entire tournament, and his two goals against Germany (which he stuck away with real style) were both very straightforward chances. If he'd squandered the second one, in particular, heads would have been buried in hands all over the continent.

                                        dalliance wrote: For all the fuss about Balotelli in the semi-finals, that was the only time they looked threatening the whole tournament along with the Di Natale goal against Spain in the opening game. They struggled to score against Ireland and England despite loads of play and chances, they did nothing against Croatia either.
                                        That's a ludicrous thing to say. Italy were -- uncommonly for them as a football nation -- the better, more imaginative and more positive team in all of their games until tonight. They'd have murdered England, in particular, had Di Natale and not Balotelli started the game. "They did nothing against Croatia", apart from dominate the game and keep the Croatian defenders and Pletikosa very busy, including one magnificent double save.

                                        Pepe Reina is like David May to the power of about 50. A penny for the thoughts of Gorka Iraizoz, who is a proper goalkeeper and has never even been called up for Spain, tonight.

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                                          The Final: Spain v Italy

                                          Maybe this was a night when Italy should have reverted to an ultra-defensive formation? Obviously it's far better for the game that they didn't, but they simply could not hold Spain with that formation or anything more adventurous than 4-5-1. This was also not a game for Balotelli but sadly he was undroppable after the Germany game. Sometimes the game is a Catch 22.

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                                            The Final: Spain v Italy

                                            satchmo76 wrote: Just how much did Italy punch above their weight to even be in the final? They looked to be the weakest of the semi-finalists this time last week after failing to score against a poor team in the quarters.
                                            In all honesty, it has been a down cycle for national teams in Europe, across the board. Worst Dutch team in decades, France still not quite together, no top shelf team from eastern Europe (esp. the hosts) or Scandinavia, Germany a tad overrated and exposed. Portugal were good but a cut below Figo's teams. The Czechs, Greece, Ireland, England all mostly down, Croatia decent but still several notches below Suker's teams.

                                            The field wasn't all that good, not to take too much away from Spain's achievement.

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                                              The Final: Spain v Italy

                                              satchmo, that would probably have lead to a 1-0 defeat. Dying on your feet rather than living on your knees I guess. Which is not a very Italian way of looking at things, but that in itself is a nice change.
                                              Obviously, if it had been a dull 1-0 Spain win, Spain would have taken the blame for it. Unlike AB, I don't think its much of Spain's chosing that they don't play like this in most of their matches. The other side generally doesn't allow them to do so.

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                                                The Final: Spain v Italy

                                                linusz, believe me, this isn't the worst Czech team of recent years. The fall off after Nedved, Koller, Poborsky et al retired in 2006 was precipitous.
                                                It was a definite upswing in this event, and with players like Pilar and Jiracek there is distinct hope for the future. Just need to find players better than the last remaining old guard like Plasil and Baros. Especially Baros.

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                                                  The Final: Spain v Italy

                                                  Hofzinser wrote: If Italy win, then, with four World Cups and 2 Euros, it will firmly ensconce them as second only to Brazil in the list of the most successful international teams of all time.
                                                  Depends how you weight the continental titles, surely. World Cups are obviously worth more, but Brazil have eight Copas América to Argentina's 14 and Uruguay's 15 (the latter also won two Olympic titles in the pre-World Cup era). I don't think we can just assume that the second most successful nation of all time comes from Europe.

                                                  Sorry to have replied so late but I deliberately left the computer switched off to watch the final.

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                                                    The Final: Spain v Italy

                                                    Janik wrote: satchmo, that would probably have lead to a 1-0 defeat. Dying on your feet rather than living on your knees I guess. Which is not a very Italian way of looking at things, but that in itself is a nice change.
                                                    Obviously, if it had been a dull 1-0 Spain win, Spain would have taken the blame for it. Unlike AB, I don't think its much of Spain's chosing that they don't play like this in most of their matches. The other side generally doesn't allow them to do so.
                                                    I can't agree with that. Spain were pacing themselves for many of their games. They coasted past France when they could have ripped them a new one. They dominated Croatia and should have dealt with them far earlier into the match. Had they played like they did against Portugal in extra time in the semi then they would not have needed the extra time in the first place. This was why many were tiring of the way they played.
                                                    As somebody said earlier in the thread, they seemed to go into the final all guns blazing, safe in the knowledge that there will be a few weeks to recuperate after. They showed their true class in this final, and I thoroughly enjoyed their performance.
                                                    Shame for Italy, they were the real surprise of this tournament, but they saved their best for the semi-final. They tried to match Spain in this game, but they could not make their time on the ball pay off for them in the way Spain did. Had it not been the final, then Spain would probably have done what they did against France, and just play keep-ball and ride the game out with the minimum of discomfort. Nobody who criticised them for being boring (myself included) can accuse them of being too ruthless in the last ten minutes and putting in a couple of punches after the towel had already being thrown in. Indeed it was a compliment to the Italians that they maintained the pressure to the end and made sure there was no chance of a miracle comeback.

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