THIS IS IT. THE END. HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Seven weeks. 163 matches. 376 goals. 50 red cards. Over £400,000 worth of fireworks used. One on-pitch wedding. They’re just some of the statistics that don’t apply to the miracle of modern football that is Euro 2012. 

But never mind all of that – tonight sees Spain and Italy meeting for the second time in the tournament. In THE FINAL. We’re hoping that we get a classic match because, to be honest, the knockout stages haven’t come close to the group games in terms of quality, with too much at stake and an ‘avoid defeat’ policy coming to the fore. 

WHAT’S THE TEAM NEWS?

Spain will probably reinstate Cesc Fabregas and the ‘false nine’ formation that has been most effective for them so far, with Alvaro Negredo dropping to the bench.

For Italy, Ignazio Abate is fit again and will prompt a back four reshuffle if he returns to the team. Cassano, Balotelli and De Rossi have been slightly doubtful but are all expected to play.

WHO’S GOING TO WIN, EUROBALLS?

We think that Spain will nick it. They won the Euros in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 and having that winning habit should be enough to see them through. Their ‘pass the opposition to death’ strategy has been called boring by some but where does it say that the object of the game is to keep giving the ball to the opposition? 

Spain are master technicians and if they can find their attacking cutting edge, they should retain the trophy that they won four years ago. We’re backing a 1-0 win in 90 minutes, and you can get 9/2 on that happening with William Hill.

The only way we can see the Italians triumphing is if Balotelli is wearing his Super Mario costume under his kit, possibly literally. An Italian win in 90 minutes with a Balotelli goal can be had at 11/2.

If you fancy going for slightly more ‘out there’ bet with big winnings to be had, try Gerard Pique as the match’s last scorer at 25/1. There’s a chance he’ll get involved in set pieces and he’s also unafraid of walloping a shot or free kick in from long range if he gets the chance.

Make the most of it everyone – it’s a massive five weeks until the start of the new season after this one…

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