Italy shocked the footballing world when they eliminated Germany in the more pulsating of Euro 2012’s semi-finals and in doing so, earned themselves the role of the unexpected force taking on the immovable Spanish object in the final.
Before the tournament you might well have deemed this a one-sided affair, a simple route to Spain making history and indeed, their group stage meeting saw heavy favour with the World and European champions. Vincente Del Bosque’s men were quoted at 8/11 on June 10th and received heavy support from the punting public.
Italy have grown in stature and reputation following their domination of England and toppling of Germany, however, and from the 16/5 mark on Day 1 they are now chalked up as short as 5/2 in places.
Both sides have been backed in the early betting but it’s clear bookmakers are set up for a low-scoring draw, with Under 2.5 goals widely offered at 4/9 and the draw as skinny as 15/8. That said, Stan James go standout best price 9/4 on extra time being played and given the pair finished level in their group and boast the best defences in the competition, it looks the most likely route to profit.
Much has been made of the fact Spain have gone 900 minutes of knockout football at major competitions without conceding and they can also boast just one on target shot conceded in the last two rounds. Italy, however, managed six on target in that earlier meeting between the sides and have yet to concede first in this tournament. They can also take heart from Portugal’s tactical superiority in the first half of their semi-final with Spain.
With their tendency to score first coupled with the fact they have led at the interval in three of their last four matches (and how they weren’t in front versus England only Mystic Meg knows), Italy to lead at the break and the game end all square could be a bold pre-match position. It comes in at a hefty 18/1 with BetVictor. Nonetheless, our biggest bet in what seems certain to be a tight affair will be reserved for the half-time draw, priced at 20/21 with Stan James and totesport.
- Spain have not conceded a goal in a knockout match since France beat them 3-1 at the 2006 World Cup, a nine-match run that includes five 1-0 wins and two 0-0 draws.
- Italy have never lost to Spain in normal time at a major tournament, while coach Cesare Prandelli has now faced them twice without defeat (W1 D1). He is unbeaten since taking the job.
- Mario Balotelli’s brace against Germany doubled his international tally for Italy, having previously notched just twice in 12 appearances.