Posted: 6/29/2012 2:32:40 PM
My read on the final:
I went back and watched both the Germany / Italy game from yesterday - and the Italy / Spain game back on June 10th. First - yesterdays game...
Watching it back - Germany played Italy just about even. The end stats were just about even - as were the chances on the field - with some very subtle differences that made the difference for the Italians. First - Pirlo. What can you say about this guy in this tournament? And how did Germany not put a mark on this guy? We all saw how he ran wild over England - and that was when England supposedly had Rooney or Wellbeck marking him at all times - but I fully expected Kroos to be marking Pirlo all over the field. Just watch the first goal again - Pirlo is being harassed - takes the ball a few yards back towards his own goal - then picks out a left wing pass of about 30 yards to a wide open overlapped Italian - who works with Casano to get the cross off to Balotellis head. The germans had Pirlo shut down at midfield - but let him have the space to create - and that was their undoing.
Pirlo has shown that he is not to be given any space whatsoever. In the first Italy / Spain match on June 10th, it was Pirlo who set up DiNatale under similar circumstances. I am fairly certain that the Spanish will set someone like Xabi Alonso to do nothing but shadow Pirlo on defense. But is he even coverable at this point? That should be a big factor in who lifts the cup - but the Italians have set up this midfield "diamond" even without Pirlo that seems to have solved their turnover woes - and gives them almost a "spanish" possession advantage. Very patient - very skilled - very intricate passing triangles - and then boom - one of them picks their head up and there is a runner at the top in on goal. This is very dangerous.
In the first match Italy only had 35% possession. I dont think they will win with this number - and while possession isnt always the determinant of winning and losing - I do think the style that the Italians are playing now will require more possession. Maybe not a majority - but more. Spain will surely recognize this and probably be fine with setting in even deeper than they have done against France and Portugal - just happy to knock it around.
Therefore - because of the need for possession - I am anticipating the same lineup that started against Italy the first time for Spain - the so called "false 9" of 4-6-0. Personally - I think this is when Spain are at their worst - and personally - I think this is the worst tactic to take against this Italy lineup. Spain needs width and depth against a team that is so willing to play in the midfield - and is happy to play narrow. Pedro has looked dangerous to me in his minutes in the tournament - and Navas - while doing nothing very special individually - has created width. If they both start - I think Italy are in trouble - but I dont think they will.
At the risk of repeating myself - because I have said it since the first Spain game - Spain are beatable (or at least drawable) when they paly with no width and depth. There are no gaps between lines - there is no space to work in. How about all the times Spain goes out wide - only to say "darn it, I dont want that wide open flank for a cross" only to pass it back to the middle of the center circle? Or the corner kicks that are either short or end up 100 yards backwards at the feet of Casillas? This is because the lack of space between lines and players - the safest pass is often the shortest pass to a wide open player - but that players position gains you no advantage. As opposed to taking riskier passes to put players in advantageous positions.
I get it. Spain is looking to do this for 90, maybe 120 minutes - and all they need is one attack where a defense goes to sleep for 5 seconds and the ball is in the net. I also get that Spain hasnt given up a goal since June 10th on the foot of DiNatale. 1 goal against in 5 games - none in the last 4+! Amazing. But the times they have looked beatable on defense (against Italy and against Croatia) have been on longer balls because of space - the same type of goals that Italy scored against Germany and have been looking to do all tournament.
It is tough to stay with Balotelli all game when he is doing what he did yesterday. My comments after the first Italy Spain game were that I did not like his lack of movement when he didnt have the ball - but clearly he has gotten that message - the second goal yesterday was a superb finish - but his work just to get in that position was masterful. He basically took BOTH central german defenders totally out of the play by his movement - and had only Lahm (the left back) who had to get out of his position to make up for the central defense lapse. Montolivio picks his head up, from his own third, sees this and the rest is history. I do think the Spanish are succeptable to this - but once again - possession creates these types of chances.
So as far as my pick for this game - TAKING MY FUTURE BET OUT OF THE EQUATION - I would be betting Italy to lift the cup at +145 for 3 units. I think they have an excellent chance to win, or certainly extend the game in to ET or PKs. In fact - I think the way Spain plays - PKs are always an excellent chance.
I have utility in my wager. It is just flat out a lot of money. It will be the single biggest winning wager of my life if it wins.
But I do like Italy in the game, and nothing has changed with my original Italy to win bet that would make me change my mind now. So is my utility enough to make me take some profits and hedge - even a partial amount? Nope. Im letting it ride. I have just decided that this is the right thing to do - and I would be going against my own philosophies to hedge out now without a proper reason to do so.
But I am very curious to hear what everyone else is doing, and suggestions for tranquilizers to watch the game.