Euro 2012 Final: Players Who Must Dominate for Italy to Upset Spain

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIJune 29, 2012

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 28:  Andrea Pirlo of Italy during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Germany and Italy at National Stadium on June 28, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Italy pulled out a shocking upset over Germany on the backs of a few spectacular performances. In the final against Spain, key players must dominate again in order for the team to win.

The Spanish have been in fantastic form during Euro 2012 and have looked unbeatable at times. Their midfield has been incredible and the team has not allowed a goal in nine consecutive elimination games at major tournaments.

But the Italians are experienced and talented, and proved in the semifinal that they can be extremely dangerous.

Here are the three players who will have to perform spectacularly in order to Italy to win the tournament.


Mario Balotelli

The controversial striker is always at the center of attention and the eyes of the football world were never more focused on him than during the semifinal match.

Balotelli scored two first-half goals to give Italy the decisive advantage that led to its 2-1 victory. For the first strike, he showed his athletic superiority when he exploded toward Antonio Cassano’s cross and headed the ball into the net.

For the next goal, he found himself behind the German defense and showed no hesitation as he blasted a shot past Manuel Neuer.

Balotelli is a powerful and skilled striker with nearly unlimited potential. When he is focused, he is impossible to mark. He will have to put on an equally impressive performance in the final for Italy to have a chance to win.


Gianluigi Buffon

The Italian skipper was incredible against the Germans and he will have to play a perfect match in order to keep the Spanish attack out of his net.

Buffon recorded six saves in the game including a spectacular diving stop on Marco Reus’ free kick in the 62nd minute.

The 34-year-old was one of Italy’s key players in the 2006 World Cup and he has again been an instrumental part of the team’s success in Euro 2012.

The Spanish have an incredible amount of talented attackers and will create quality opportunities in the final. For Italy to win, Buffon will need to post a few more amazing saves. 


Andrea Pirlo

The Spanish are masters of possession, but no player in the world keeps the ball better than Italy’s Andrea Pirlo.

He orchestrates the entire Italian attack and has two assists and a goal so far in the tournament. His touch is always perfect and his passes hit their marks with pinpoint accuracy.

Spain attempts to tire out its opponents through constant possession. In order to have a chance in the final, Italy must not let La Roja do this to them.

Pirlo must ensure that the team keeps the ball for a respectable amount of the game and find seams in the impenetrable Spanish defense. If he can do this, Italy has a chance.