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Euro 2012 Semifinals Best Starting XI
Published by William | Filed under Euro 2012, Italy, Spain, Starting XI
Euro 2012 Odds | Stats
European football powerhouses Spain and Italy play for history Sunday night in the Poland/Ukraine Euro 2012 Final. Spain is playing to become the first country to win three major consecutive tournaments. Italy on the other hand, is playing in the midst of another Italian match fixing scandal. A win at the Euros would edge them closer to Germany’s record three European Championships. Let’s take a step back and look at how Spain and Italy made it to the final. Respective opponents Portugal and Germany were playing in what appeared to be their prime, but in the end, a very deserving Spain and Italy have found themselves at the biggest stage of European football. Both team effort and individual masterpieces were plenty. Based on performances in the semifinal matches, see below for my semifinal best Starting XI.
Manager: Cesare Prandelli
Once again I have picked a bench that could beat the starting 11, but considering Germany’s poor performance and Spain’s lack of goal scoring chances and Portugal’s lack of finishing, it should work. Of all the teams, Italy was the most impressive in attack and up and down, the most cohesive unit. Four spots were awarded to the Azzurri with Pirlo as the Player of the Semis. The Italian midfielder floated his way around the pitch in another masterful display of talent. Control, touch, vision, long ball, leadership, spot kicks, ability to calm the rest under pressure, Pirlo has it all. In the final third, Cassano and Balotelli looked as if they have been playing together for years.
Perhaps the most debatable position is not a position at all, but the lack of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid winger is one of the world’s best and yes, is supposed to play like one of the world’s best. With three chances from his favored dead ball position, Ronaldo failed to even hit the target. Time and time again his shots sailed over the bar. But, because he was the only real threat, I have included him on the bench. At the biggest stage, against Euro and World Champions it is understandable to want to be the one that wins the game in penalties. But Spain shot first. CR7 will never make that mistake again.
Xavi was also left out after, for his standards, a poor performance in the midfield. It was as if he was trying to force the pass rather than playing the simple ball to keep Spain relaxed against an enthused Portugal. Seldom did a long or through ball reach its target, but I guess that is what happens when you play without strikers.
Portugal’s defense was solid throughout the tournament and they should be rewarded. Pepe and Coentrao actually look like they link up year round while Bruno Alves (disregarding fouls) was an absolute beast in the air. His penalty belt against the cross bar keeps him out of the starting lineup however.
So, this is my all-star all-semifinal Euro 2012 squad. Disagree if you will, but you only have the performance of two games, four teams to choose from, and 11 players to field. Talk again after the final…
June 29th, 2012