Spain saved their best for last and beat Italy 4-0 on Sunday. Spain controlled the entire match. David Silva and Jordi Alba scored the first half goals, and substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata netted the explanation points.
Spain just won their third major championship in a row. This group is the best international soccer team ever. A thought I had which makes this run so amazing is the fierce rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Most players on Spain are employed by the top two Spanish teams and when they play in the El Clasico, the players don’t get along. When it is time for international duty, all Barcelona and Real Madrid players put their differences aside and focus on winning trophies. They have been successful the last three times, but expect a split in the group six week from now when the La Liga season begins.
My soccer 365 article that previews the big match tonight.
Prediction: Italy 1, Spain 0
Two goals by Mario Balotelli was all Italy needed to beat Germany 2-1. Balotelli scored both goals in first half. Mesut Ozil added a late penalty kick, but it was too little too late. Italy moves on to play Spain in the final on Sunday. The two teams met in the group stage and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Spain ousted Portugal 4-2 on penalties in a match that finish 0-0 on Wednesday. The first 120 minutes were forgettable as each team was off their game. The penalties will be remembered for several reasons including Cesc Fabregas’ winner that hit the post and went in. The biggest story from the night that will be remembered for a long time is that Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t have a chance to take a penalty. Spain plays Germany or Italy in the final on Sunday in Kiev.
Spain vs. Portugal on Wednesday
The first semifinal is a very interesting matchup between two geographical neighbors. A matchup to watch is Cristiano Ronaldo against several of his teammates and many of his rivals. Ronaldo plays at Real Madrid with playes such as Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso. He’s also familiar with several Barcelona players from tense clashes on the club level. This is also a rematch of the 2010 World Cup when Spain beat Portugal 1-0 in the round of 16. Expect Portugal to allow Spain to pass the ball in the midfield and hope that Ronaldo can provide a counterattack goal, just like he did against the Netherlands in group play. Spain is a tough team to score against and I think they will record another clean sheet.
Spain 1, Portugal 0
Germany vs. Italy on Thursday
Germany will be looking for revenge against Italy. It was the Italians that eliminated the Germans in the 2006 World Cup semifinals when the tournament took place in Germany. The pressure is on the Germans, who will be favorites to advance over Italy. Germany had two extra days of rest and has more depth. However, you can never count out the Italians especially with Andrea Pirlo as the anchor of the midfield. One of Germany’s question marks is their defense and Italy forward Mario Balotelli could be a tough matchup for the Germany back line. It will be interesting to see if Germany keeps the same lineup as the Greece match or go back to the starting 11 that was used in the group stage.
Germany 2, Italy 1 (After extra time)
Italy defeated England on Sunday in penalty kicks. Italy were the more deserving winners, but this was another cruel way for England to exit a tournament. Italy will be playing a well-rested Germany team in Warsaw on Thursday.