Just like a year ago, Spain and Italy reach the final of the European football championship, only this time these are the U-21 sides, although the balance of power and styles when compared to the senior sides aren’t all that different.
Spain are undoubtedly the favorites, hoping to defend their title from 2011. They’ve yet to concede a goal in their four matches so far, breezing through the group stage with a 1-0 win over Russia, 1-0 over Germany and 3-0 over the Netherlands, dominating possession as always throughout all three matches, but showing quite a lot of creativity up front, especially through Isco, already scoring twice in the tournament.
Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid has been the unstoppable man so far, leading the Euro with 4 goals, scoring one in each match, including in the 3-0 win over Norway in the semifinal, having a slight problem during the first half, once the first goal went it, it looked quite difficult for the Scandinavian side to mount any sort of comeback.
Italy haven’t been impressive in their style, basing themselves on a strong, yet quite anonymous defensive line, while enjoying the counter attacking skills and quality up front, especially through Lorenzo Insigne, who is slightly injured but won’t miss the final, the fantastic Alessandro Florenzi and Liverpool’s Fabio Borini, who scored their only goal in the 1-0 semifinal win over the Netherlands.
Italy tend to play with only two players in the middle, which caused them a lot of problems against the Dutch, who suffer from problems upfront. Against Spain, making such a decision will be quite counterproductive, giving the Spaniard complete midfield control, but also denying Italy the chance to press high through the middle. Missing Luca Marrone is a serious problem for Italy, but he’s the only player they are surely going to miss.
For Spain, Sergio Canales won’t be available, while Ignacio Camacho is also in doubt. While there shouldn’t be any tactical surprises from Spain, Italy will probably try to play tight, narrow and through their quick counter attacks, hoping Insigne’s injury doesn’t bother him too much, as his ability with and without the ball is usually what creates openings for Florenzi and Borini.
Prediction – Italy are a tough nut to crack, but Spain haven’t conceded a single goal in the tournament, and Isco seems like a man playing in a competition way beneath his level. Unless there’s some huge day from the Italian midfield, bordering on a heroic performance, Spain win the tournament.