The Europeans are still playing a tournament concerning the soccer. I managed to watch all of Portugal v Spain Wednesday night, while packing. That it went to penalties was inconvenient as my bus to Heathrow was departing Plymouth at midnight. I watched chunks of Italy v Germany during my six hour layover at EWR, where I was surprised to see Balotelli’s finishing prowess the exact opposite of what it was against England.
Sunday, I’ll be able to give the final my undivided attention. I still suspect it will be Spain who prevail, but Spain have demonstrated some frailties during this tournament, whereas Italy have merely been inconsistent. I think that their victory yesterday owes more to Germany’s failures rather than Italy’s successes. Further, allowing England to stay in the match for 120 minutes on Sunday should be scandalous to any top tier international side.
In the words of my friend Niall Ó Murchú,
this piece this piece (link corrected) in the Guardian about the tactical questions facing the Spanish is “nerdy but brilliant”, and an excellent read. Even a non-soccer fan watching Italy would spot the influence of Andrea Pirlo, and the need to close him down. Xavi can do that, but as the article suggests, this comes with a risk. The greater risk, of course, is giving Pirlo freedom of the pitch, as England did; it was only Italy’s (especially Balotelli’s) horrendous finishing that prevented Italy from crushing England 3-0.