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The Argentina legend believes that the Azzurri can end La Roja's dominance in the final of Euro 2012 on Sunday night and described Mario Balotelli as "a world-star striker"

Argentina legend Diego Maradona believes Spain have not looked an unbeatable force at Euro 2012 and he feels Italy are in with a chance of winning the final in Kiev on Sunday evening.

The Azzurri's shock semi-final victory over Germany on Thursday has set up a mouth-watering clash between Cesare Prandelli's side and the reigning champions.

La Roja are favourites to make it an unprecedented three successive victories in major tournaments but Maradona expects an Italy side inspired by playmaker Andrea Pirlo to severely test their credentials.   

"Who wins control of the midfield will win this game," he wrote in his column in the Times of India.

"For once the Spanish team look beatable, as the Italians are feeling confident and inspired. But don’t discount the pride of world champion players like [Andres] Iniesta, [Iker] Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, [Sergio] Ramos and their desire to win an unprecedented third national tournament in a row.
Spain v Italy preview

"As is fitting, the teams that have played the best football in the tournament have reached the final in Kiev. Now only one game is left. May the best team win."

Two goals from Mario Balotelli against the Germans has given the Manchester City striker the opportunity to win the Euro 2012 Golden Boot if he can find the net one more time. And Maradona believes the 21-year-old has finally come of age.

He said: "Against Germany a world-star striker emerged in the form of Mario Balotelli. Nobody doubted his ability or size, but many criticised his maturity.

"Against Germany, Super Mario demonstrated that he has arrived on the world stage. Served by a brilliant pass by Cassano he scored with his head. Served by a 50 yard pass by Montolivo he beat German captain Lahm, to score a terrifying goal of power and accuracy.

"At last Italy have found a true striker. What a difference a goalscorer can make."

Spain have conceded just one goal so far in Euro 2012 - Antonio di Natale's effort during the Group C clash with the Azzurri. Yet Maradona expects the effects of a marathon domestic season to finally catch up with Vicente del Bosque's side and argues that the Italians should be much fresher.
 
"Big tournament finals are tense, tight affairs, where each tired and hurting player has to lift his game to levels of excellence never reached before," he explained.

"That said many of the Italian players, from teams like Juventus, Udinese, Roma and Man City, who didn’t play the Champions League all the way, seem fresher than the weary Spanish champions, whose season never seems to end." 

 

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