Italy seeks to prevent reigning world and European champions Spain from becoming the first team in history to win three consecutive major titles as it tries to become European title holder for the first time since 1968.
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Italian forward Mario Balotelli (L) vies with Spanish defender Sergio Ramos during their June 10 group-stage match at the Gdansk Arena in Poland. AFP
Italy bid to topple Spain as Kings of Europe
The coaches: Italy's Cesare Prandelli (L) and Spain's Vicente del Bosque
KIEV: Euro 2012 reaches its climax in tonight’s final when defending champions Spain will bid to hold off Italy who have steadily eased into form in trademark fashion.
Having beaten strongly fancied Germany 2-1 in Thursday’s second semi-final, 1968 title-winners Italy will contest a Euro final for the first time since their extra-time loss to France in 2000. Reigning world and European champions Spain are seeking to become the first team in history to win three consecutive major titles, but they required a penalty shoot-out to edge Portugal in the last-four in Donetsk.
Despite dominating possession, as they did in the 2-0 quarter-final success over France, Spain laboured in attack against the Portuguese and have started to face accusations that their ‘tika-taka’ style has become sterile. Italy, in contrast, have confounded low pre-tournament expectations to eliminate first England and then Germany, and they have not been beaten by Spain over 90 minutes in a competitive match since the 1920 Olympics.
But Coach Cesare Prandelli is insisting that his side will be the underdogs.
Italian forward Antonio Di Natale (L) scores past Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas during the June 10 match. AFP
“We are looking for Spain’s weak points and we’ll be working on that, but it won’t be easy,” said Prandelli.
“They are world and European champions.”
Italian midfielder Thiago Motta (top) falls over Spanish defender Gerard Pique in the group-stage match. AFP
Italy successfully stifled Spain three weeks ago in Gdansk, as Prandelli opted for a 3-5-2 formation that afforded his defenders extra room to manoeuvre against Spain’s fluid front three.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque appears to have doubts over who is the best player to spearhead his attack.
Fernando Torres played up front in the 4-0 win over Ireland and the 1-0 defeat of Croatia, while Alvaro Negredo started in the 0-0 draw with Portugal but was replaced by Fabregas early in the second half.
Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (R) scores against Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. AFP
The winner of the championship game should also determine the player of the tournament between Spain's Andrés Iniesta (left) and Italy's Andrea Pirlo. AFP
One striker brimming with confidence is Italy’s Mario Balotelli, who came of age in the semi-final against Germany with a confidently taken first-half brace. The controversy-prone 21-year-old provided one of the images of the tournament by embracing his adoptive mother in the crowd after the final whistle, and he will enter Sunday’s game as the tournament’s joint-top scorer with three goals.
As well as pitting together two of the tournament’s outstanding midfielders in Spain’s Andres Iniesta and Italy’s Andrea Pirlo, the game will also see Spain attempt to become the first country to successfully defend the European title.
Iker Casillas, Spain's legendary Spanish goal-keeper will have a chance to add to his long list of achievements. With a victory over Italy, Iker Casillas will reach 100 wins with Spain, a never-before-reached milestone that would further cement his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time. AFP
vie – to compete strongly with someone ลงแข่งขัน
group-stage – the opening part of a tournament where the teams are put into groups and compete against other group members. The top teams (usually two) then go on to the next stage.
bid – to make an attempt to do something พยายาม
topple – to cause to fall คว่ำลงมา
climax – the most exciting or important event or point in time จุดสำคัญสูงสุดของเหตุการณ์
defending champion – a player or team who won a competition the previous time it was held ผู้ชนะเลิศครั้งก่อน
steadily – gradually and in an even and regular way อย่างต่อเนื่อง, อย่างแน่วแน่
ease – to do something slowly and gradually without too much effort
form – how well somebody/something is performing; the fact that somebody/something is performing well ระดับความสามารถ, ฝีมือ, ความเก่ง
trademark – something particularly noticeable that a person, group, etc. typically has เครื่องหมายประจำตัว
fashion – a way of doing something แบบ
fancied – expected to win มีหวังชนะมากที่สุด
semi-final (or semifinal) – one of the two games that are played immediately before the last game in a sports competition. The two people or teams who win the semifinals play each other in the last game, called the final, to decide who wins the competition การแข่งขันกีฬารอบรองชนะเลิศ
title – the position of a winner in a sports competition ตำแหน่งแชมป์
contest – to compete for something แข่งขัน
reigning champions – the current champions แชมป์ปัจจุบัน
consecutive – following one after another in order ติดต่อกัน
penalty shoot-out (or shootout) – in football, a series of chances to kick the ball into the goal, given to both teams as a way of deciding who wins the game when both teams have the same score การดวลจุดโทษ
edge – to beat someone in a competition by a small amount ชนะอย่างหวุดหวิด
dominate – to be in control มีอิทธิพลเหนือ ครอบคลุม ควบคุม
possession – control of the ball การครองบอล
quarter-final – a competition between two of the last eight competitors remaining in a tournament การแข่งขันก่อนรอบบรองชนะเลิศ
labour – to work very hard doing something difficult ทำงานหนัก
accusation – statement that someone has done something wrong ข้อกล่าวหา
sterile – not producing any useful result; lacking individual personality, imagination or new ideas ไม่มีประโยชน์
confound – to prove somebody/something wrong; to confuse and surprise somebody พิสูจน์ว่าผิด, ทำให้สับสน
expectations – the belief that something will happen สิ่งที่คาดคิดว่าจะเกิดขึ้นในอนาคต
eliminate – to cause or require to leave (a competition) ทำให้ออก
insist – to keep saying very firmly that something is true ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
underdog – a team that seems unlikely to win a competition ทีมที่เป็นรอง, เบี้ยล่าง
stifle – to stop something from developing normally; to make something difficult for someone ระงับ
opt – to make a choice or a decision from a range of possibilities เลือก
formation – a particular arrangement or pattern แนว, ,แถว, การก่อรูป
afford – to provide somebody with something ให้
manoeuvre – to move or turn skilfully or carefully ยักย้าย, หลบหลีก
fluid – smooth and elegant ที่ราบรื่น (การเคลื่อนไหว)
spearhead – to lead an attack against somebody/something นำหน้า
defeat of – a victory over someone in a fight, war or competition การชนะ, การปราบ
draw – a game that ends with both teams or players having the same number of points เสมอกัน
replace – to put a new person in the place of someone แทน
brim with confidence – to be full of confidence เต็มไปด้วยความมั่นใจ
come of age – when a person becomes an adult, in this case, when a person begins to act like an adult; when a person reaches the age when they have an adult's legal rights and responsibilities กลายเป็นผู้ใหญ่
brace – two goals in a single game
controversy – a disagreement that a lot of people have strong feelings about ความขัดแย้ง
-prone – (suffix) likely to experience a particular problem more often than is usual ที่มีแนวโน้ม
image – any picture, especially one formed by a mirror or a lens จินตภาพ ภาพลักษณ์
embrace – to hold someone tightly with both arms to express love, liking or sympathy, or when greeting or leaving someone การสวมกอดอย่างรักใคร่, การโอบกอด
adoptive – of someone who has legally adopted a child ที่เกี่ยวกับการรับเลี้ยงบุตรบุญธรรม
whistle – the sound made by blowing a whistle เสียงนกหวีด
joint – done together; belonging to or shared between two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน, ความร่วมมือกัน
pit together (against) – to test somebody or their strength, intelligence, etc. in a struggle or contest against somebody/something else ใช้ต่อสู้กับ
outstanding – clearly very much better than what is usual ยอดเยี่ยม, ดีเด่น
legendary – very famous or well known for a long time
achievement – something very good and difficult that you have succeeded in doing การบรรลุผลสำเร็จ
milestone – an event or achievement that marks an important stage in a process ความสำเร็จอันยิ่งใหญ่
cement – to make something stronger or more certain ทำให้ยึดแน่น
legacy – something that someone has achieved that continues to exists after they stop working or die สิ่งที่สืบทอด