Rightly so, the sensible pundits have been lambasting England's lack of skill, flair and guile as meaning they will not win a tournament in the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, Spanish and Italian lads are born with ball skills. Although Italy defended well against Germany, they were also pinging the ball around all over the park and making the Germans look like statues in the first half.
Spain also can make any team look ordinary, but the big question mark is whether they have sufficient end product. The midfield are predominantly Barcelona players, but they have no Messi. Many observers believe that Torres or Llorente should be played to give an alternative out to the complex passing moves.
Italy are no slouches when it comes to passing either. Led by the peerless Pirlo, they have developed as a team through the Euros and, with their confidence growing, have shown they can pass as well as their Latin cousins.
The difference is that they have a proper defence and a proper centre-forward in Balotelli.
So why should we expect more than the chess game in the opening round of their Group?
There are a number of reasons:
This is a final where everything is on the line, including Spain's third successive win in a major tournament;
Italy scored first and broke Spain's run of 14 successive wins in that match;
The Spanish players look and are tired out. One statistic shows that their 23 players had played 17,000 minutes more football than their Italian counterparts last season;
Italy's stock is rising;
Spain's is waning—they could easily have gone out to Portugal, who played all out to win in their 0-0 draw;
Spain played 120 minutes and penalties.
The ideal is for Italy to score first again and make the Spanish go for it as Germany did in the second half. Then we can have our classic.