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European Championship

  • July 1, 2012
  • • 2:45 PM
  • • NSK Olimpijs'kyj, Kyiv (Kiev)
  • Referee: Pedro Proença
  • • Attendance: 63170
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Live Commentary

  • That's all from me guys, what a game we've witnessed tonight. This Spain team continue to march onwards, breaking records left, right and centre. Boring? Not even close! Goodnight everyone!
  • AND NOW SPAIN MAKE THEIR WAY UP THE STEPS TO RECEIVE THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY! The winning team receive their medals from Michel Platini, with their superb captain Iker Casillas last in line. Platini hands the trophy to Casillas, who lifts it triumphantly into the air much to the delight of his team-mates and all their fans in the Olympic Stadium. Wonderful scenes here in Kiev. Spain are champions of Europe. Again.
  • Goal.com's beaming Spain Expert, Ben Hayward, gives us his thoughts following La Roja's record-breaking win. "Spain have had their critics throughout this competition but it was emphatic in the end. That was impressive and caps a wonderful four years for this team. Deserved winners in the end and it's not over yet: Vicente del Bosque is set to stay on for two more years and most of these players will still be around then. Scary." Indeed!
  • The Portuguese team of officials go up to receive their medals, before the defeated Italian squad then trudge up the steps to be given their runners-up medals. They've been brilliant in this tournament the Italians, and really felt the loss of Thiago Motta in the second half that left them with 10 men for half an hour of the final this evening.
  • ANOTHER RECORD: Iker Casillas has broken Dino Zoff's record of 494 minutes without conceding a goal at a European Championship. He has now gone 510 minutes since Antonio Di Natale scored against him in these two sides' meeting in the group stages of this tournament.
  • FULL-TIME: SPAIN 4-0 ITALY. Wow. What a performance from Vicente Del Bosque's side to break yet more records. They dominated their opponents in Kiev this evening, running out comfortable 4-0 winners courtesy of goals from goals in the first half from David Silva and Jordi Alba, and then further strikes following the break from the two substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. The win makes it a record-breaking three consecutive major tournament wins, and back-to-back European Championship victories. The four goal winning margin is also the largest ever in a European Championship final!
  • 90' + 3'
    And there's the final whistle!! Spain have retained the European Championship with a stunning 4-0 victory over Italy!!
  • 90' + 2'
    La Roja are rampant here!
  • 90' + 1'
    Arbeloa wins a free-kick 30 yards from goal after Pirlo bundles into the back of him. Mata touches the set-picee to Xavi who chips it to Torres on the left. He cuts onto his right before driving a cross to the nearpost that Ramos nearly flicks into the back of the net for a fabulous fifth.
  • 90'
    Spain go in search of a fifth down the right-hand side but eventually run the ball out of play for a goal-kick to Italy.
  • 88'
    Assist Fernando Torres
  • 88'
    Goal Juan Mata
    MATA SCORES FOR SPAIN!! 4-0!! Some lovely unselfish play from Fernando Torres sets up his Chelsea team-mate for an easy finish. Mata passes the ball into an empty net with Buffon dragged out of position by Torres' run.
  • 87'
    Substitution Andrés Iniesta Luján Juan Mata
  • 86'
    Spain are cruising here in Kiev, and they make another substitute, Andres Iniesta leaving the pitch to be replaced by Torres' Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata.
  • 85'
    Torres becomes the first player to score in two European Championship finals. Congratulations El Nino!
  • 84'
    Assist Xavi
  • 84'
    Goal Fernando Torres
    TORRES INCREASES SPAIN'S LEAD!! 3-0 SPAIN!! De Rossi gives the ball away cheaply inside his own half and Xavi takes advantage. Torres latches on to his perfect pass before slotting a right-footed effort past Buffon and into the bottom left-hand corner. Brilliant stuff from the reigning champions.
  • 82'
    And now Arbeloa gets flagged offside! He had a long time to time his run over on the right for Spain but he still strayed into an offside position. His team-mates are not happy. Unsurprisingly!
  • 81'
    Greedy from Arbeloa! The Spain right-back bursts forward from deep but instead of passing when he approaches the Italy box he attempts to go it alone, and is soon easily dispossessed by Barzagli.
  • 79'
    PEDRO WILL BE GLAD HE'S BEEN FLAGGED OFFSIDE THERE!! That is a glaring miss! Fortunately for the Spain man, the linesman had his flag up, after a flowing move between Iniesta and Alba resulted in the left-back cutting a pass back to Pedro. He sidefoots an effort wide, but is spared some blushes by the linesman on the far side!
  • 77'
    Iniesta wins a corner on the left for Spain and that seems to spark their fans into life, as "Iniesssta, Iniesssta" echoes around the Olympic Stadium.
  • 76'
    STAT TIME: Fernando Torres could be the first player ever to score in two different European Championship finals.
  • 75'
    Substitution Cesc Fàbregas Fernando Torres
  • 75'
    And lo and behold, Spain are bringing on a REAL NINE! Fernando Torres is coming on for Cesc Fabregas.
  • 74'
    Spain are camped on the edge of the Italy penalty area here, and they don't look like they will settle for just the two goals here.
  • 72'
    Our Spain Expert, Ben Hayward, has been in touch, "Spain still haven't conceded a goal in knockout football at major competitions since 2006. Let alone two." Italy have good a mammoth task on their hands in these last 20 minutes.
  • 71'
    DI NATALE IS LIVING OFFSIDE! Again, the Italy substitute mistimes his run and is flagged offside by the official on the near side.
  • 70'
    The Spain squad have 210 major trophies between them, with Jordi Alba the only player in the squad who is trophy-less. That's soon going to change, either tonight, or next season, after he completed his long-awaited move to Barcelona in recent days.
  • 68'
    Italy are looking tired out there with 10 men. Spain have got to be the last team you would want to play with a numerical disadvantage, they control the ball so well.
  • 67'
    STAT TIME: None of the five major tournament finals in the 21st century (World Cup European Championship) have seen more than two goals. Could this one change that? Let me know what you think by posting your thoughts in the comment box to the right of this commentary!
  • 65'
    Fabregas turns away from Barzagli brilliantly to the left of the Italy box but is then dispossessed by a challenge from Bonucci. The defender tries to play a quick pass out to Balotelli but it is overhit and hands the ball back to Spain.
  • 64'
    Pirlo whips the ball towards Bonucci at the back-post, but the Italian defender goes down in a heap with Sergio Busquets, with the referee deeming it a foul from the attacking player.
  • 63'
    Arbeloa cuts across Balotelli and gives away a free-kick to Italy on the left-hand side. They will need to make the most of these set pieces now.
  • 62'
    The Brazilian-born midfielder is helped onto a stretcher and taken straight down the tunnel here, just four minutes after coming on. What a shame for the player, and his team. Spain will now play the remaining 28 minutes with an extra man. As if Italy weren't facing a big enough task!
  • 61'
    Thiago Motta has only just come on for Italy, but he's gone down clutching his right hamstring here. This does not look good for Cesare Prandelli's side, Motta was their final substitute...
  • 60'
    Pedro has looked very dangerous during this tournament when he has been brought on as a substitute in the second half of games, as his pace and trickery have caused tiring legs all sorts of problems. His linkplay with Alba in the second half of extra-time against Portugal was a highlight of Spain's tournament!
  • 59'
    Substitution David Silva Pedro
  • 59'
    Vicente Del Bosque makes his first change of the night. The man that gave Spain the lead, David Silva, is withdrawn to be replaced by the electric Pedro.
  • 58'
    He curls it towards the back post but Casillas stops it from reaching its intended target, punching the ball a long way to safety to relieve the pressure on his side.
  • 57'
    Substitution Riccardo Montolivo Thiago Motta
  • 57'
    Di Natale wins a free-kick for Italy on the right after a foul from Ramos. Pirlo lines up the set-piece...
  • 56'
    Italy make their third change of the match in the hope it will spark a comeback. Thiago Motta comes on in place of Riccardo Montolivo in midfield.
  • 54'
    Sloppy from Di Natale! The Italy substitute is miles offside as Marchisio looks to loop the ball to him over the head of Alba on the right-hand side.
  • 53'
    Spain are playing some marvellous stuff out there on the Olympic Stadium pitch. Fabregas very nearly flicks the ball into the path of Iniesta after a fine passing move down the left, but Barzagli steps in to clear the ball just in time for Italy.
  • 51'
    GOOD SAVE FROM THE MAN THEY CALL SAINT IKER!! Casillas blocks a well-struck effort from Di Natale before catching the striker's subsequent cross from the rebound. Composed stuff at the back from Casillas there.
  • 50'
    SPAIN SHOULD HAVE A PENALTY! Ramos heads towards goal inside the box and it clearly strikes the arm of Bonucci but the referee Proenca fails to award a penalty. La Roja can feel hard done by there!
  • 49'
    Fabregas dances into the box on the right and dribbles straight at goal. Buffon does well to flick the ball away from goal before Abate's despairing lunge blocks Iniesta from hooking the ball into an empty net.
  • 48'
    FABREGAS FIRES WIDE! The Spain attacker fashions a yard of space on the edge of the Italy box before hitting a shot just wide of Buffon's right-hand post.
  • 47'
    AND DI NATALE'S FIRST TOUCH IS NEARLY A GOAL! Abate goes marauding down the right-hand side before curling an inviting cross into the Spain penalty area that Di Natale heads just over the crossbar.
  • 46'
    Substitution Antonio Cassano Antonio Di Natale
  • 46'
    The Azzurri have made a change at the break, as Antonio Cassano makes way for Antonio Di Natale.
  • 46'
    Italy get the second half underway here in Kiev...
  • Anyone think Italy can turn this one round? Let me know your thoughts by firing your views into the comment box to the right of this commentary!
  • Our Spain Expert, Ben Hayward, has weighed in with his thoughts on the first 45 minutes. "Italy remain the only team to have scored against Spain in this competition and the Azzurri also came from behind to beat La Roja 2-1 in a friendly last year, but they have a huge task on their hands in this match. Spain look shaky at times but seem highly unlikely to concede twice. At the moment, Vicente del Bosque's side are in control and are now on the cusp of making history. Again." Lovely stuff!
  • A quick afterthought from that first half, how good are Barcelona going to be with Jordi Alba at left-back!! €14m seems like a steal on the back of his performances in this tournament!
  • The match stats suggest that this has been a fairly even game, with Spain just edging the possession in the first half with 53% compared to Italy's 47%, while La Roja have also only completed 32 more passes than their opponents. Normally, the margins are far wider, but let me tell you, this has not been even. Spain are dominating this European Championship final, and look well on the way to their record-breaking third successive major tournament win.
  • Here's a lovely stat! This is only the 3rd time a team has scored twice before half-time in a European Championship final: Italy in 1968 and Czechoslovakia in 1976.
  • Here's Goal.com's Italy Expert, Mark Doyle's take on that first half. (He's not happy...) "Italy's dream has turned into a nightmare. Following on from the game against Germany, we had serious concerns over the full-back positions and they have been brutally exploited by Spain. Question has to be asked as to why Prandelli didn't even consider using 3-5-2 again, given how well it worked in the tournament opener."
  • HALF-TIME: SPAIN 2-0 ITALY. Spain have been superb in this first half and thoroughly deserve their two goal lead here in Kiev. Silva headed in the first after some brilliant build-up play from Iniesta and Fabregas, before Jordi Alba increased their lead with a composed finish late in the half.
  • 45' + 1'
    After a minute of added time the referee Pedro Proenca blows his whistle to mark the end of the first half!
  • 45'
    Yellow Card Andrea Barzagli
  • 45'
    David Silva shoots from 20 yards but it is straight down Buffon's throat and is easily gathered by the Italy goalkeeper.
  • 44'
    Iniesta is brought down cynically by Barzagli on the left. That's a clear yellow card for the Italy defender, Iniesta was hurtling through on goal there!
  • 43'
    GOOD SAVE FROM CASILLAS! Monolivo fires a shot from outside the area that the Spain goalkeeper has to punch clear.
  • 42'
    Spain are boring? I don't think so.
  • 41'
    Assist Xavi
  • 41'
    Goal Jordi Alba
    2-0 TO SPAIN!! BEAUTIFUL FOOTBALL FROM SPAIN! Jordi Alba plays a drawn-out one-two with Xavi, passing the ball into his team-mate before racing through the Italy team and latching on to the perfectly-weighted return ball. He still has alot to do as he surges into the penalty area though, and do it he does, casually curling the ball past Buffon and into the back of the net.
  • 38'
    BALOTELLI BLASTS OVER!! Cassano shift a pass to his strike-partner 35 yards from goal, and he immediately turns and attempts a shot at goal, but his effort is nowhere near being on target and flies high and wide of Casillas' goal.
  • 37'
    Spain invite pressure on themselves by passing the ball out of play on the left-hand side, but then Balotelli gifts it straight back to Iniesta with a wayward pass. Ramos goes hurtling forward from centre-back for Spain and the ball very nearly reaches him inside the Italy box, but for a timely intervention from Barzagli.
  • 36'
    Italy's tactics are all about moving the ball as quickly as possible to their front duo of Balotelli and Cassano but it isn't quite working at the moment, as they are being crowded out by the Spanish defence.
  • 34'
    Arbeloa gets forward well on the right, but his cross is deflected away but only as far as Xavi. A neat move between Iniesta and Silva nearly carves out a goalscoring opportunity but the linesman on the near side has his flag up for offside.
  • 33'
    Italy have an opportunity to counter-attack but De Rossi's attempted pass to Marchisio on the right is woeful, and easily picked up by Jordi Alba, who immediately sets off down the left.
  • 32'
    LONG-RANGE EFFORT FROM CASSANO! Casillas does well to parry Cassano's shot away after the Italy midfielder found a pocket of space in which to get a shot away 20 yards from goal.
  • 31'
    Arsene Wenger said before the game that Spain "have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative" with their football at this tournament, but I tell you what Arsene, they're looking pretty impressive tonight!
  • 29'
    Balzaretti is really motoring down the left for Italy since coming on for Chiellini. He looks very much the out-ball for Prandelli's side at the moment, and he looks more than comfortable in possession.
  • 28'
    De Rossi wins the ball off Xavi before exchanging passes with Balotelli and then whipping a very good pass through to Cassano on the left wing. He cuts on to his right foot inside the area before hitting a weak effort at goal that goes through a couple of Spain player's legs and into the arms of the waiting Casillas.
  • 27'
    WONDERFUL CROSS FROM BALZARETTI!! The Italy substitute gets forward down the left before curling a delicious ball towards Mario Balotelli in the Spain penalty area. Casillas is alert to the danger though, and comes leaping out to tip the ball away from the head of the Italy forward. Great play from Balzaretti, and some equally impressive goalkeeping from Spain's Iker Casillas.
  • 25'
    Yellow Card Piqué
  • 25'
    That's Spain's 11th yellow card of the tournament, which is still four less than the 15 accumulated by their opponents this evening.
  • 24'
    Fabregas nearly plays in Iniesta but the pass is just behind his Barcelona team-mate. Italy look to counter immediately, and they win a free-kick after Pique slides into Cassano in the centre-circle. The defender gets a yellow card from the referee Proenca for his troubles!
  • 22'
    Spain have been fantastic at pressing Italy in the opening 22 minutes, it is really limiting their opponent's time on the ball, and in turn forcing a number of mistakes, like that one from Chiellini just now.
  • 21'
    Substitution Giorgio Chiellini Federico Balzaretti
  • 21'
    Federico Balzaretti is the man that comes on to replace Chiellini. Balzaretti put in a fine shift in Italy's semi-final against Germany and was unfortunate to be dropped this evening in favour of Abate at right-back. But now he gets his chance in the final.
  • 20'
    MISTAKE FROM CHIELLINI! The Italy left-back makes a poor error, gifting the ball to Spain in a dangerous area, and he looks in trouble out there. Spain fail to take advantage of his mistake, but it is the defender's last contribution of the match, as he is forced to come off clutching his knee.
  • 18'
    What a tournament Silva is having by the way! That's Two goals and three assists now for the Manchester City attacker. And to think, two years ago he was a sub for La Roja, the only casualty following that opening game 1-0 defeat to Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup.
  • 17'
    ITALY ARE PUTTING PRESSURE ON SPAIN!! They've won another couple of corners, and only some good defending from Ramos and then Casillas stops Chiellini from getting on the end of two Pirlo crosses.
  • 16'
    Pirlo curls the corner towards the penalty spot but Iker Casillas does brilliantly to palm the ball away to safety.
  • 15'
    ITALY WIN A FREE-KICK! Balotelli goes down 20 yards from goal under a challenge from Pique, and you can tell Pirlo fancies this one! The midfielder's effort is deflected behind for a corner.
  • 14'
    Assist Cesc Fàbregas
  • 14'
    Goal David Silva
    GOAL!! SPAIN TAKE THE LEAD THROUGH SILVA!! Iniesta dissects the Italy defence with a delightful pass that runs straight into the path of Cesc Fabregas. Spain's false nine shows great composure to control the ball and cross to David Silva, who nods home from eight yards. 1-0 to Spain!
  • 12'
    Speaking of that Pirlo-Balotelli long-ball combo. Italy have attempted more long balls at Euro 2012 than any other side (277); Pirlo (63) & De Rossi (56) the most of all outfielders.
  • 11'
    We haven't seen much of Andrea Pirlo so far, but he has nearly created a goalscoring chance for Balotelli just now. It's the pair's signature move, Pirlo firing a long ball from deep between the two Spain centre-backs for Balotelli to run onto. The Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas does well to rush from his line and the boot the ball away to avert the danger for his side.
  • 10'
    De Rossi does well to throw his body in front of a Xavi shot from the edge of the penalty area, but he and the rest of the Italy defence can do nothing about the Barca man's second effort. Fabregas tees the ball up for Xavi, and he fires a swerving shot just over Buffon's crossbar.
  • 9'
    Spain are dictating the early exchanges here in Kiev. Italy are struggling to get on the ball, and the statistics demonstrate this. Del Bosque's side have enjoyed 60% of the possession so far.
  • 7'
    We've just had our first glimpse of Jordi Alba! The Spain left-back goes marauding down the wing before clipping a cross towards Silva at the back post. Silva is just too far away from the ball though, and Chiellini is able to hoof the ball to safety!
  • 6'
    POOR FROM RAMOS!! Sergio 'Panenka' Ramos attempts a driven shot from the set piece but it drifts some way over Gigi Buffon's crossbar.
  • 6'
    FREE-KICK TO SPAIN! De Rossi slides through the back of Xavi 35 yards from goal, and the Portuguese referee Proenca awards a free-kick to La Roja.
  • 5'
    Italy hurl the ball forward to Mario Balotelli but he is easily beaten in the air by Sergio Ramos. The Italy striker doesn't look too happy with the Real Madrid defender's challenge there, but there was nothing wrong with it!
  • 4'
    David Silva does brilliantly to shrug off the challenges of first De Rossi and then Leonardo Bonucci, but cannot quite thread a pass through to the onrushing Andres Iniesta.
  • 3'
    Alvaro Arbeloa wins his first duel with Cassano, robbing the Italy attacker of possession as he looks to ghost his way into the Spain penalty area.
  • 2'
    PIRLO HAS SHANKED THAT! The Italy midfielder slices an effort a long way wide of Iker Casillas' goal after the ball sits up for him 25 yards from goal.
  • 1'
    Daniele De Rossi quickly steals the ball for Italy, and they immediately look to get the ball to Antonio Cassano on the left but Gerard Pique is across to block Giorgio Chiellini's pass and put it out for a throw.
  • 1'
    Spain get this Euro 2012 final underway!
  • The referee tonight is Pedro Proenca. Here's a neat stat that is one for the conspiracy theorists amongst you. Spain have only lost 2 matches led by a Portuguese referee in 31 precedents (22 wins and 7 draws).
  • Italy (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio; Montolivo; Cassano, Balotelli.
  • Spain (4-3-3): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Alonso, Busquets, Xavi; Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva.
  • Let's have a quick recap on the two team's starting XIs before this showpiece final gets underway!
  • Spain's national anthem, Marcha Real, has no words, so I'll be surprised if we see any of the La Roja's player's mouths moving...
  • Buffon is belting out the words to Italy's national anthem, Il Canto degli Italiani, just as he always does. The Italy skipper has spoken during the tournament when asked about the reasons for this. "That's true, I sing it with emotion — because Italy is my nation and where I was born. I lost two great grandparents at Piave," Buffon said, referring to a World War I battle, visibly moved as he spoke during a press conference. "That's the least I can do for them." Nice one Gigi.
  • And now for the national anthems!
  • Two captain goalkeepers (Casillas & Buffon) lead their countries at a European Championship final for the first time ever!
  • The teams are in the tunnel here at the Olympic Stadium as we edge closer and closer towards kick-off. The two captains, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas, lead their teams out onto the pitch.
  • ITALY STAT: Italy are unbeaten in World Cup and European Championship matches against England, Germany and Spain. The sides they have faced in this year's knockout rounds...
  • SPAIN STATS: Spain go into this final with the tournament's best defence (their solitary goal conceded coming at the hands of Italy) and the second-best attack behind Germany (10 goals). La Furia Roja have also suffered the most fouls (94), won more duels than any team (288, or 57.4 per cent), completed more passes (3313) and have the most accurate strikeforce (56.3% of shots on target), despite not playing a REAL NINE for most of the time. How dare they!
  • Anyone superstitious? Feast your eyes on this stat! Since 1980, the European Championship Final losing side have only worn either white or red shirts. I don't think you need me to tell you that Spain will be wearing red tonight...
  • LOOK HOW FAR I'VE GOT WITHOUT MENTIONING MARIO BALOTELLI!! The Manchester City striker was superb in Italy's semi-final win over Germany, bagging a fine brace before serving up some poignant scenes following the final whistle as he ran over to celebrate with his foster mother in the stands. Do you guys expect another match-winning performance from Super Mario? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box to the right of this commentary!
  • ANALYSIS: It is obviously a massive night for every player this evening but I can't help but feel the two right-backs will be particularly crucial in this one. Italy's midfield three exposes their right-back Abate to the hugely-impressive Jordi Alba, while Arbeloa's wanderings for Spain could provide Cassano with the space to wreak havoc down Italy's left.
  • Fighting talk from the man who once said he cared more about food and sex than he did about football...
  • We've had the line-ups, now let's move on to some more weighty issues... Italy's Antonio Cassano is out for revenge tonight after he was labelled fat by the Spanish press during his time at Real Madrid. "It would be great to beat the Spanish. My spell at Real Madrid didn't exactly go well. They called me fat and didn't appreciate me, so I am ready to put things in their place."
  • And now for our Italy Expert, Mark Doyle's reaction to Prandelli's line-up: "No surprises in the Italy starting lineup, with the fit-again Iganazio Abate returning at right-back in place of Federico Balzaretti after recovering from a minor hamstring strain. No changes elsewhere, with Prandelli having explained yesterday that he did not even consider reverting to the 3-5-2 formation which served the Azzurri so well in their tournament opener against Spain exactly three weeks ago."
  • JUST IN: Here is Spain Expert, Ben Hayward's view on Del Bosque's starting XI. "Pedro and Navas looked to be in line for possible starts, but in the end Del Bosque has opted for Cesc as a false nine, plus Andres Iniesta and David Silva in the two advanced positions. Spain fans will hope the plan works rather better than in the sides' first meeting in this tournament, when Cesc scored in a 1-1 draw but La Roja created little of note until the introduction of Fernando Torres with 17 minutes left."
  • Italy (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio; Montolivo; Cassano, Balotelli.
  • Spain (4-3-3): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Alonso, Busquets, Xavi; Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva.
  • Enough background chat for the time being, 'let's have the line-ups', I hear you all cry. So without further ado, here are both side's starting XIs:
  • Enough background chat for the time being, 'let's have the line-ups', I hear you all cry. So without further ado, here are both side's starting XIs:
  • One month on, and he will be glad he did not go ahead with that! Italy have a chance to win a second European Championship, to add to their previous victory in 1968.
  • A week before the squad departed for this summer's tournament, police showed up at Italy's training camp to notify defender Domenico Criscito that he was under investigation for match-fixing. Criscito was dropped, while another defender, Leonardo Bonucci, was also placed under investigation, but remained with the team. Cesare Prandelli said at the time "If you tell me that it would be better for Italian football not to play at Euro 2012, I would not have a problem with it. There are things in life that I believe to be more important than football." Strong words.
  • For Italy, it is a chance to restore some national pride, after their domestic game was plunged into yet another scandal on the eve of a major international tournament. At the 1982 World Cup, Paolo Rossi came back from a betting scandal ban to lead Italy to the title with a tournament-best six goals, then at the 2006 World Cup, Italy emerged victorious — as Juventus were being stripped of two Serie A titles and relegated to Serie B for applying pressure on referees.
  • Spain can make history by winning a third successive major tournament, following their Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup successes, while they can also join Germany as the only country to win the European Championship three times (1972-1980-1996). No team have won it twice in a row though, Spain could achieve that tonight.
  • The answer? A LOT...
  • So... apart from the small matter of being crowned champions of Europe, what other motive do these two sides have for winning tonight?
  • GOOD THING TOO! As Italy have gone on to thrill and surprise with equal measure since emerging from Group C alongside Spain. Pirlo's Panenka penalty against England etched his name in European Championship history, while few would have predicted Italy's Balotelli-inspired win over Joachim Low's much-fancied Germany side in the semi-final.
  • The Spanish players have no regrets though. Xavi spoke of how "Lots of people talked about the [2-2] draw but as the manager said, we never regret playing to win. We would never have thought of [reaching a pact to draw] and we will not think that even if we lose. If you had said to us back then [1999] that we would win all of this," he added, "we would not have believed you. To have achieved so much, not just at senior level but junior level too, to see a generation of fantastic footballers and make history is wonderful."
  • Spain chose not to conspire with Croatia in order to outrageously eliminate Italy from the tournament in the group stages. Had Spain and Croatia's final group game finished 2-2, it would have knocked Italy out regardless of the score in their match against Republic of Ireland.
  • Spain haven't beaten Italy in 90 minutes of competitive football since the 1920 Olympics. La Roja have lost just two of their last 50 competitive matches, but the Azzurri are unbeaten in competitive games under Cesare Prandelli, keeping clean sheets in 10 of those 15 games. Game on!
  • I don't know about all of you but I AM EXCITED!! I've got high hopes for this match, after we've had such a brilliant tournament so far, I think this showpiece final is going to provide us with some moments that will live long in the memory!
  • Don't forget guys, you can get in touch with me at any point before, during, or after the match tonight, by posting your comments in the shiny little box to the right of this LIVE commentary. To start with, send me your predictions for who is going to be the match-winner tonight!
  • Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the 2012 European Championship final at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev that pits the reigning champions Spain, against Cesare Prandelli's Italy. My name is Charlie Scott and I will be providing you with in-depth commentary throughout the match, as these two entertaining sides battle it out to be crowned champions of Europe. Let's hope it's a cracker!