Cesc Fabregas says that Spain will need to pay special attention to Mario Balotelli if they are to get the better of Italy in tomorrow’s Euro 2012 final in Kiev.
Balotelli produced the finest performance of his blossoming international career by claiming an excellent brace to give Italy a 2-1 win over Germany in their semi-final. The 21-year-old Manchester City striker now finds himself in contention to win the tournament’s Golden Boot and Fabregas says that his performance against Germany proved he is coming of age at the international level.
“Balotelli is a great player,” said the Barcelona midfielder. “He showed in a semi-final against a very strong team. He’ll be a threat, just like [Antonio] Cassano and the other strikers. They have a very competitive team. They are very experienced at the back and up front, and they have players who had excellent seasons for teams like AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus.”
‘Italy will be underdogs’
Meanwhile, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has cooled talk of omens by insisting that his side will be the underdogs at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium.
“Spain are the favourites because they’ve been working for many years and they dominate every game,” said Prandelli, whose side beat Spain 2-1 in a friendly last August. “We’ll come up against a brilliant team, who are always able to play their game and have shown that over recent years.”
Lahm left disappointed
Meanwhile, German captain Philipp Lahm credited Italy.
“It is a very bitter defeat,” admitted Lahm as Mesut Ozil’s 92nd-minute consolation penalty for the Germans proved too late. “We made stupid mistakes and we shouldn’t have conceded the goals in the way we did. The most bitter part is that this team has so much potential for more than this, but we weren’t clever enough.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2012.
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