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June 10: Group Stage v. Spain 1-1
June 14: Group Stage v. Croatia 1-1
June 18: Group Stage v. Ireland 2-0
June 24: Quarterfinal v. England 0-0 (4-2 in shootout)
June 28: Semifinal v. Germany 2-1
Italy's level of play in this tournament has been improving every time. The biggest match in that progression, however, is the first one. It will be the template of how Prandelli will attack the Spaniards on Sunday.
Italy thoroughly outplayed the Spaniards in their group stage opener. Prandelli surprised the Spaniards with a 3-5-2 formation that packed the passing lanes in the interior of the field, taking advantage of the fact that the Spaniards play very narrowly in their tiki-taka style.
Spain was held to 60% possession, an abnormally low number for the Spaniards. Italy made their possession count on the hour, with Andrea Pirlo slipping a ball to Antonio Di Natale, who cooly beat Casillas to the far post.
The Italians were unlucky not to win the game. Claudio Marchisio had a golden opportunity to score a winner late on but shot right at Iker Casillas.
The Spaniards were only able to equalize because of dual mistakes by Giorgio Chiellini and Emanuele Giaccherini. But for that goal by Cesc Fabregas, the Spaniards hardly ever tested Gianluigi Buffon.
The Azzurri's play steadily improved as the tournament went on. After dominating Croatia for the first half of their match, the Croatians were able to make an adjustment that allowed them far more possession of the ball, with another mistake by Chiellini allowing them to equalize.
There were no such mistakes against Ireland. Needing a victory to advance, Antonio Cassano put the team ahead with a corner kick in the first half. The Italians had other chances, but had to sit on their one-goal lead for most of the match as Ireland pressed for an equalizer. Their efforts became moot at the death when Mario Balotelli hit a bicycle kick goal off another corner to seal the match.
There were no questions in the quarterfinal as to who the better team was. After a furious opening 15 minutes, the English ceded the Italians possession and from then on were hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
The Italians fired 35 shots, 20 of them on target, but none of them were able to breach Joe Hart's goal. The match went to penalties, and the Italians fell behind 2-1 when Riccardo Montolivo missed his spot kick.
But when Andrea Pirlo chipped his penalty down the middle past Hart, it unnerved the English, whose next two kickers missed, and Alessandro Diamanti sent the Italians to the semis.
The semifinal began much as the quarters did. Germany pressed them for the first ten minutes, but Italy then seized control.
The difference between the quarterfinal was that Italy finally seized their chances. Balotelli scored twice in the first half, and the Italians effectively neutralized the vaunted German attack, hardly allowing any genuine chances to score until Federico Balzaretti handled the ball in the box in stoppage time, with Mesut Ozil converting the penalty.
It was too little too late to save the Germans, despite their desperate attempts in the final two minutes of stoppage time. The Italians pulled the upset and went on to their first Euro final since their loss to the French in 2000.