How Italy can upset Spain

A high-pressure defense, great goaltending and Balotelli brilliance are keys

Originally Published: June 29, 2012
By Alexi Lalas | ESPN Insider
Mario Balotelli Christof Stache/AFP/GettyImagesMario Balotelli should expect to find himself surrounded; he'll need to play inspired.

After nearly a month of terrific football, it all comes down to this: Spain versus Italy for the right to be champion of Euro 2012. I am fascinated by this matchup, because while I don't think that teams fear Spain as much as they used to, Italy is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now. Don't get me wrong: Italy is still an underdog in this match, and it would surprise a lot of people if the Italians won. But the Italians fully expect to come away with the trophy Sunday.

How can Italy pull off the upset and win Euro 2012? Let's take a look at some keys for the Azzurri.

Counter Spain's formation

One of the most intriguing aspects of this match will be the chess game between Vicente Del Bosque (Spain) and Cesare Prandelli (Italy). Spain has been most dangerous when it has gone with a 4-6-0 lineup, lacking a true striker. If Del Bosque goes with that formation, does Prandelli look back to their first matchup in the group stage, when Italy played a 3-5-2 and the teams tied 1-1? Or does he keep four in the back? My recommendation would be to at least start with the 3-5-2, given the success it showed the first time around; force Spain to adjust.