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Mario’s moment of madness hands Spain Euro 2012

Could the above be Monday morning’s headlines across the world?

Alright, probably not, but with Italian striker Mario Balotelli you just never know.

The Euro 2012 final sees the favourites, Spain take on the tournament’s surprise package, Italy.

The Spanish have played most of the time without a striker, ensuring Fernando Torres’ miserable past few years show no sign of coming to an end, but despite this somewhat bizarre stance, they have found a way to overcome their opponents.

Meanwhile, Italy have defied expectations to reach the final. Their shock 2-1 victory over Germany in the semi-finals came totally out the blue.

It sets up an intriguing encounter between two of European football’s heavyweights.

The favourites will be current European and World Champions Spain, but Italy certainly have the ability to cause an upset and I think it will be an extremely close match.

Here are three clashes to watch out for:

Gianluigi Buffon v Iker Casillias
Two of the world’s best goalkeepers will be on display and it will take something special to get past them. Both have experience of winning major tournaments and both can win their sides matches. Expect top saves and few goals.

Xavi v Andrea Pirlo
Two midfield maestros who can spot a pass no-one else seems to see. Pirlo especially has shone so far in the tournament, and his ability to take a penalty may come in useful too.

Mario Balotelli v Sergio Ramos
Balotelli showed in the semi-final what he is capable of. If he is happy with how things are going and is presented with a chance, a goal is likely. If he is in a mood, expect a moment of madness, such as a lashing out at an opposing defender. Ramos has experience of tolerating rival strikers in El Classico, so will Mario make him crack?

Nerves will no doubt get the better of the two sides in the first half, but with 22, genuinely world-class players on show, there only needs to be one moment of magic to change the match.

I tipped Italy at the very beginning of the tournament so will stick by them.

I think Italy’s cutting edge up front will be the decisive factor, so am going for a 2-0 victory.

What do you think?

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