The money is all for Spain, but betting editor Paul Gough believes writing Italy off could be a mistake, as Euro 2012 comes to a dramatic conclusion
Will Spain make history by becoming the first nation to win three successive major tournaments or will Italy pull off another incredible backs-to-the-wall triumph against all the odds?
That is the key question that will be answered on Sunday [Monday morning Australian time], when the two nations that between them have won the last two World Cups square off for the right to be crowned the best football nation in Europe.
Spain opened Euro 2012 as favourites but surrendered that crown to Germany at varying stages of the competition.
But they will head into the match as raging favourites at Luxbet, with Spain at $1.51 to win outright while Italy are the outsiders at $2.50, despite their magnificent win over the previously unbeaten Germans in the semi-finals.
Spain are aiming to create history on two fronts in this match.
Firstly, no team has ever won successive European Championships since the tournament began in 1960, but Spain now has that opportunity after beating Germany 1-0 in the 2008 final.
And no country has ever won three successive major tournaments, which Spain now also has the chance to do after winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
However, while star-studded Spain deserve to go in as warm favourites, who would dare write Italy off?
That is what the bookies and plenty of punters did before the start of the tournament, when Italy were only rated a $12 chance to win Euro 2012.
|Back Spain to win Euro 2012 outright at $1.51 at Luxbet
||Back the draw at 90 minutes at $3 at Luxbet|
But the Azzurri have shown the same kind of steely determination against the odds at this tournament as they did when they won the 2006 World Cup, after nearly going out against Australia in that infamous Round of 16 match before then beating Germany on home soil in the semi-finals and France on penalties in the final.
Incredibly, for all their great performances over the years, Italy ‑ World Cup winners or four occasions [the most of any European team] ‑ have only ever won one European Championship, and that was way back in 1968 on home soil.
Interestingly, as was the case at Euro 2004, the finalists also met in the group stages, with Italy holding Spain to a 1-1 draw in their opening game in Group C before Spain eventually topped the group with seven points and Italy finished second with five points.
Spain then eliminated France in the quarter-finals and Portugal on penalties in the semi-finals, while Italy knocked England out on penalties in the last eight before their shock win over Germany.
And while we think Spain will cap off a memorable four years by creating history and finding a way to win Euro 2012, we also believe Italy will put up one hell of a fight.
That makes the draw at $3.00 the best value of the three options, particularly as the teams played out a 1-1 draw in the group stages.
But eventually we believe the class and nerves of steel of Spain will tell in a game that could even go down to penalties.