Euro 2012 Final: Why Xavi Hernandez vs. Andrea Pirlo Is the Key Duel

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Euro 2012 Final: Why Xavi Hernandez vs. Andrea Pirlo Is the Key Duel
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Sunday, July 1st—the day that Euro 2012 comes to a close with Italy and Spain set to do battle as they bid to become the champions of Europe. Influential, experienced and technically superb players are in plentiful on both sides, but one clash in the centre of the park will, more than any other, perhaps, produce the biggest indication of just who will be lifting the trophy at full time.

Xavi Hernandez of Spain versus Andrea Pirlo of Italy.

The last two winners of the FIFA World Cup (Spain 2010, Italy 2006) met in the group stages of this year's tournament and fought out a 1-1 draw in their opening match, as both sought to make early headway toward the knockout phase, but neither was willing to risk losing all three points to a big rival.

It made for an entertaining, tactical and exciting clash at the time—but the stakes are much, much bigger this time around.

Here are five reasons why Xavi vs. Pirlo is the key duel in the Euro 2012 final.

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