Euro 2012 daily update: Friday 29 June
MARIO Balotelli’s double stuns Germany; Lahm admits Germany had themselves to blame for defeat and Uefa announce the man in the middle for Sunday’s final.
• Germany’s curse continued last night, as the Nationalmannschaft once again failed to overcome Italy. The Germans have never won a competitive game against the Azzurri (a run stretching to eight matches), and despite Mesut Ozil’s late penalty, Italy held out to advance to the final.
• Mario Balotelli did the damage with a quickfire double - becoming the first Italian in history to score three goals at a European Championship.
• Uefa have announced that Portuguese referee Pedro Proença will take charge of Sunday’s final between Spain and Italy. The 41-year-old financial director took charge of the Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Proença also officiated during Spain’s 4-0 win over Ireland in the group stages, France’s 2-0 loss to Sweden and England’s narrow loss to Italy in the quarter finals.
• Germany’s versatile defender Philipp Lahm admitted that Germany only had themselves to blame for the defeat. As had been commented on in the lead-up to the finals, Germany’s defence was the weak spot of the team, successfully exploited by the Italians.
• The respective team captains, Gianluigi Buffon and Philipp Lahm, both expressed their support for the Respect Diversity campaign, designed to rid football of racism. This year’s tournament was often overshadowed by incidents involving racist chanting from fans, which saw Croatia’s Football Federation fined for their fans’ conduct.
Germany 1-2 Italy
Billed as one of the clashes of the tournament, Germany had enjoyed a fairly straightforward route to the knockout stages, disposing of Greece 4-2 in the quarter finals. It had taken 120 minutes plus penalties for Italy to get past England at the same stage, sparking fears that the Azzurri would not be rested enough for their semi-final. No such worries however, as a first half double from Mario Balotelli took Italy into a 2-0 lead. German coach Joachim Low had named an unexpected starting lineup, perhaps in a bid to curb the problems with his team selection being leaked, It didn’t work, however, with Germany failing to impress. Despite a late penalty from Mesut Ozil, Italy were, in reality, home and dry long before the final whistle, as the German team that had promised so much seemed to hit a wall.
ONES TO WATCH
Andres Iniesta (Spain)
Once touted as the player to replace Pep Guardiola by Guardiola himself, Andres Iniesta is viewed by many as integral to Barcelona’s continued success. A willingness - and the ability - to play anywhere for the team, Iniesta is equally devastating for the national side. Flanked by club team mates Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets, the 26-year-old Iniesta is expected to pull the strings in midfield for Vicente del Bosque’s side against Italy.
Mario Balotelli (Italy)
Why always Mario? A double against Germany followed his goalless appearance against England, but ‘Super’ Mario Balotelli looks to have rediscovered his form for Italy. Expected to partner Antonio Cassano in Italy’s forward line, Balotelli could be instrumental for Italy if he manages to keep his head, and keep up his scoring form. The mercurial - and still youthful - Andrea Pirlo will orchestrate the Azzurri from his midfield berth, but it will be up to Balotelli to provide the firepower.
It may have been a night of mixed feelings for Riccardo Montolivo - the Italian midfielder is half German thanks to his mother, and has German flags stitched into his boots.
MEMORABLE GOALS OF EUROS PAST - Fernando Torres, Germany 0 - 1 SPAIN (Euro 2008 final)
He might be struggling to find the back of the net these days but Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the Euro 2008 final against Germany, lifting the ball over Jens Lehmann after 33 minutes, leading Spain to their first major trophy win for 44 years. The Spaniards dominated, with Michael Ballack coming closest for the Germans, and Torres heading just past the post for Spain prior to scoring what turned out to be the winner.
Mario Balotelli 11/8
Fernando Torres 8/1
Cesc Fabregas 12/1
Xabi Alonso 20/1
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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