Spain vs. Italy will battle it out in the Euro 2012 final Sunday to see who will be crowned European champions. The match kicks off at 2.45 p.m. EST and can be watched live on ESPN, or alternatively fans can watch online through live stream on ESPN3 (link provided below).
Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque has a selection dilemma and must choose to either keep striker Alvaro Negredo in the side after he was used in the starting line up in the semi final against Portugal.
However, during the tournament till now Spain have often opted not to play an out and out striker, and if they choose to resort back to that tactic Cesc Fabregas is likely to start as an attacking midfielder in place of a forward.
Meanwhile, Italy have Ignazio Abate back fit after he missed the semi final win against Germany with a hamstring injury. Fears were also allayed after hero of that semi final win Mario Balotelli was named fit after suffering severe cramp the Germany game.
Federico Balzaretti could return to his regular position on the left of defense with Giorgio Chiellini filling in the center back position. Leonardo Bonucci is likely to be dropped to the bench with Abate back in the side.
Spain's midfielder Cesc Fabregas has spoken in the build up to the final of the potential threat Italy's strike force will provide. Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano have been influential in Italy's surprise success in the tournament to date, and Fabregas recognized the threat posed, saying: "They have a lot of variety up front. They have strong players like Balotelli, tricky players like Cassano."
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He also highlighted Italy's midfield strength: "In midfield they have special players like [Claudio] Marchisio and [Andrea] Pirlo, who's had a great tournament. It will be a tough game."
Balotelli scored two spectacular goals in the semi final to break German hearts and knock out the much more highly favored side 2-1. The skilled Manchester City striker has been lauded for his prolific talents but has also been equally criticized in the past for his indiscipline and for getting himself into needless controversies. However, many are now saying this is his opportunity to set the record straight and claim his place among the world's best strikers by performing in a major tournament final against one of the best soccer team's in history.
Both sides have solid defenses and many are suggesting the game could go all the way to a penalty shoot out. Again both have won shoot outs on their way to the final with Italy beating England in the quarter finals and Spain beating Portugal in the semi finals.
If it does go to penalties Spain have a better record although both sides do not have a fantastic record. Spain have won four out of seven shoot outs they have been involved in. Italy meanwhile have won only three from eight.
Spain vs. Italy kicks off at 2.45 p.m. EST and can be watched live on TV on ESPN or alternatively fans can watch online through live streaming on ESPN3 by clicking HERE.