Tomorrow, Euro 2012's final act will take place.
Either Spain or Italy, the last two World Cup champions, will walk away with the title of European champions.
So what will happen? The answer may lie in the summer happenings of six years ago.
Upon analysis, this year's tournament is incredibly similar to the 2006 World Cup, which was won by the Azzurri.
In the upcoming slides, I will present these similarities.
Is it mere coincidence or evidence of what is to come?
Italy entered Euro 2012 with a dark cloud hanging over their heads.
Much of their nation's football association was coming under fire and investigation for match-fixing and corruption.
Their camp was even rocked by raids and arrests right before the tournament.
The last time Italian football was hit by such awful circumstances?
At Euro 2012, England's biggest result that catapulted them to winning their group was their 3-2 victory over Sweden. In that match, they took a 1-0 lead before going down 2-1, but then won the match 3-2.
The two nations' last competitive meeting?
Yep. The 2006 World Cup, when Sweden twice came back from a goal down to draw 2-2.
The draw sealed the group for England.
In fact, both matches contained an English goal that was considered a "goal of the tournament" (Joe Cole in 2006, Danny Welbeck in 2012).
England went on from winning their group to fighting a tough battle against Italy in the quarterfinals of the tournament. After the match finished 0-0 at both full time and 120 minutes, they lost to Italy in a penalty shootout.
Their last such loss?
Yep. In World Cup 2006, they lost to Portugal in the quarterfinals. The match went 0-0 through 120 minutes before the English went down in penalties.
In a stunning performance, Andriy Shevchenko scored two goals for the Ukraine against Sweden in the opening match. Unfortunately, these were the only goals the 35-year-old could muster throughout the tournament.
The only other major tournament for Ukraine?
Yep. 2006 World Cup.
How many goals did Shevchenko score in that tournament?
At Euro 2012, Croatia finished third in Group C. At the time of their elimination, it was considered hard luck that they hadn't gotten past Italy or Spain. Since then, as Italy and Spain have waltzed to a finals matchup, it seems even more of a tough luck situation.
In 2006, they finished third to Brazil and Australia. At the time of their elimination, it was considered a bad loss to go down to Australia. Only after the Socceroos fought eventual champions Italy right to the death, did the elimination seem to be a bit of hard luck.
At Euro 2012, Germany won their quarterfinal battle with Greece by a scoreline of 4-2.
In 2006, the Germans won their quarterfinal matchup with Argentina on penalties.
The scoreline of that shootout?
This tournament, Portugal's run ended in the semifinals when they lost to Spain. Incidentally, Spain are the last European nation to win the World Cup.
In 2006, how did Portugal go out of the World Cup?
Yep. By losing in the semi-final to France, who happened to be the last European nation to win the World Cup.
On Wednesday, when Portugal lost to Spain, they went out thanks to a penalty from Cesc Fàbregas. In the past, Fàbregas had helped his nation to a World Cup and European Championship within two seasons.
What about when they lost to France in 2006?
Yep. The winning kick was a penalty from Zinedine Zidane, who had previously helped his nation to the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship titles.
In Thursday's semifinal, Italy scored two goals against a favored Germany to advance to the final.
What happened at the 2006 World Cup?
Yep. Italy scored two goals against a favored Germany to advance to the final.
So what does this mean for tomorrow's final?
Well, don't expect anyone to headbutt an opposing player (though if I had to bet on anyone in the world doing so, I'd probably have Balotelli).
Perhaps it means nothing. Maybe these are all just a huge bundle of coincidences that will be ended by the greatness of this Spanish side.
On the other hand, maybe it's all pointing to an Italian triumph.
There is only one way to find out.
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