Euro 2012: Why History Says Italy Will Win Title on Sunday

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Euro 2012: Why History Says Italy Will Win Title on Sunday
Michael Steele/Getty Images

This article has nothing to do with statistics.

This article also has nothing to do with how Italy and Spain match up on the field on Sunday in Kiev.

This article is about the ugly history of scandal in Italian football and how every time scandal rocks Italy, the national team wins a major tournament.

The Azzurri have won two World Cups, one in 1982 and the other in 2006, in the face of a domestic scandal.

2012 is no different.

Before Italy entered Group C play at Euro 2012, before Andrea Pirlo's strokes of genius in the midfield and before Mario Balotelli discovered his super goal scoring form, there were accusations of a match-fixing scandal.

Just two weeks before the tournament started, allegations broke in Italy that defender Domenico Criscito was involved in the latest match-fixing scandal while he spent time playing with Genoa.

Criscito was immediately dropped from the Italy squad once the allegations came out against the current Zenit St. Petersburg player.

This Daily Record report describes the entire situation in Italy which saw Lazio captain Stefano Mauri arrested and named Juventus manager Antonio Conte in the report.

Now, with Italy in the Euro 2012 final on Sunday, it mirrors the previous two situations that occured after a domestic match-fixing scandal.

Back in 1982, Italy were coming off the 1980 Totonero scandal that saw star forward Paolo Rossi get suspended for two years from football. The suspension was originally three years but it was appealed and a year was cut off the sentence.

In Spain in 1982, the Azzurri finished second in the first group stage to Poland, but then went on to beat Brazil and Argentina in the second group stage.

In the knockout stage, Italy shutout Poland and then beat West Germany, 3-1, to win the title.

Ironically enough, Rossi was the leading scorer of the tournament with six goals, including a hat-trick against Brazil.

Fast forward 24 years and Italian football were knee deep in the Calciopoli scandal, which was much more serious than the Totonero scandal, as two of Italy's biggest club teams AC Milan and Juventus were penalized with relegation to lower leagues because of involvement in the scandal.

The Azzurri went on to win their group and advance to the final without giving up a goal to an opposing player, the only given up was Daniele De Rossi's own goal against the United States in group play.

Italy went on to win the final over France on penalties in a game that will be forever known for Zinedine Zidane's headbutt of Marco Materazzi.

Now, it is 2012 and off the heels of the most recent match-fixing scandal, Italy earned a draw with Spain in the group stage and finished second in Group C.

Then, a win in penalties over England and a win in the semifinals over pre-tournament favorite Germany led Italy to the final in Kiev on Sunday.

If Italy win, be prepared for the comparisons to 1982 and 2006 and how in the face of domestic hardship, the Azzurri united a nation with the same sport that caused their country crisis

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