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Euro 2012 Betting Odds: Spain Favoured Over Italy

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Can Mario Balotelli lead Italy to another major upset Sunday?

Two of the most dominant forces in soccer, Spain and Italy, collide in Kiev Sunday for the UEFA Euro 2012 Final.

Sportsinteraction lists Spain as +115 to win in regulation, Italy at +215 to win in regulation and the draw at +225 odds. The over/under is set at 2.5 goals, with a +167 reward for taking the over.

Here’s everything you need to know about Spain and Italy.

Italy embraces change

The emergence of Mario Balotelli as a force in the international game has been only the second-most interesting story in this tournament. As a 21-year-old striker, Balotelli is still somewhat in the formative years of his game. Soccer betting fans know that when the Manchester City man is on form, there are few defenses that can contain his genius. The player of the tournament to date has been the long under-appreciated Andrea Pirlo. The 32 year old midfielder has been a force in Europe for a decade and a half but failed to get adequate recognition, having been forced to share the stage with some of the biggest names in the game. Over the last year, Pirlo has proven that he belongs right up there with the greatest of all time.

After Milan thought him surplus to requirements, Pirlo went to Juventus and promptly let the Turin giants to the Serie A title and an undefeated league campaign. Recognizing both Pirlo’s talent and his insatiable hunger to make the world stand up and take notice, Cesare Prandelli has installed the midfielder as his puppet-master on the field. The results have been impressive with Pirlo finding angles that nobody on the field or watch on TV can see.

La Roja are becoming grinders

For a team that can pass the ball and dominate possession the way they do, Spain have turned this art into a way of brutalizing opponents into submission. Portugal set the pace for most of the 90 minutes against Spain, a rare sight, but even Paulo Bento’s charges eventually succumbed as Spain ran them ragged in extra time before eventually winning on penalties. Spain have succeeded without playing a conventional striker but they didn’t create a legitimate goal chance in that semi-final until extra time.

Despite such a frustrating display, betting fans should expect Spain to stick with that 4-6-0 formation. It’s arguably their best shot against an Italy side that wants to counter-attack. Vincente del Bosque knows he won’t see a stouter defense than the one he faced against Portugal but the Italians are no slouches at the back. Spain’s efforts to unlock Prandelli’s defense will once again be the chief battle on the field. They must however remain ever vigilant of the threat Super Mario poses on the break.

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