about getting thrown into the fire right from the start. The two favorites to
progress out of Group C, Spain and Italy, face off against one another in each
team's opening Euro 12 match. Check out our pick.
Two of the strongest nations in the competition, Spain and
Italy, meet up to start things off in Group C.
The Spaniards, as the overall favorites to win the whole
shebang, are favored to win the match, but it definitely won’t be a cakewalk.
They're at -135, pretty appealing given how much this team is stacked, in the
soccer betting odds, while Italy is at +400 and a draw is listed at +260.
Think we'll see plenty of goals? Then why not go for a total
play and play the OVER 2 goals at -135.
Italians looking for a new start
We’ve already scrutinized Spain’s squad, as well as their
chances of a repeat.
No one really knows what to expect out of Italy. This is a
nation that’s gone through a lot in the soccer world over the past decade; however
they did go undefeated during qualifying and only allowed two goals in nine
Of course, Mario Balotelli will be one of the main stories.
A crazy character, Balotelli could score a wonder goal one second and then get
red carded out of nowhere the next. Let’s hope he manages to stay out of
trouble in Euro 2012, for everyone’s sake.
Some other striker options for coach Cesare Prandelli
include Antonio Cassano (assuming he's fully fit), Antonio Di Natale and Fabio
In terms of midfield pieces, there’s plenty to choose from,
including Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi, while the defense will be led by
Giorgio Chiellini, a Juventus center back who has been influential for club and
Goalkeeping is not an issue in the slightest, with Gianluigi
Buffon in between the posts. Widely considered one of the best goalies of
all-time, his experience will be invaluable for the Italians, especially when
facing a deadly attacking team like Spain.
Italy has an excellent chance at advancing out of Group C,
but we don’t think the same sentiment holds true for their first match against
the defending champions.
Spain: locked and loaded
Their starting XI may not be set in stone, but we can expect
to see the Spanish side line up with Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets and
Andres Iniesta in the middle of the park, while Iker Casillas will start in
goal and Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos will be manning the defensive front.
The Spaniards may be missing Carles Puyol and David Villa.
Sure, every other team may have their targets set on them. Yet that shouldn’t
faze anyone, especially Spain.
Their players, who mainly play for Real Madrid and
Barcelona, have dealt with all kinds of pressure and expectations. A group
stage match against Italy shouldn’t make them panic in the slightest.
Thing is, the Italians have adopted a much more attacking
approach under Prandelli, and that could create some weaknesses for Spain to
exploit going the other way. Perhaps if Italy went with their old defensive
formations they’d be able to frustrate the Spaniards and then try and get a
goal on the counter.
They may do just that.
Even so, Vincent del Bosque will prepare his crew for
whatever may come his way and we have to think Spain wins this one based on
past history and current form
Spain is the popular choice to win it all and you'd be
hard-pressed to find many who disagree with that assessment. Back the Spaniards
to win the group opener.
FREE Pick: Spain 2 Italy 1