Spain will either make history or be the nearly men of world football at this year’s European Championship.
Spain can make history if they win the competition to make it three straight victories in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Nobody has achieved that feat, although West Germany went closest when they missed out on penalties in the 1976 European Championship after winning in 1972 and then picking up the World Cup two years later. France in 1998 and 2000 also won a double.
The only question mark about Spain is their lack of firepower after losing David Villa. They have Fernando Torres, of course, but is that enough after a mixed season with Chelsea? The usual suspects are all there, so whoever wins Euro 2012 will surely have to beat Spain.
Italy don’t have much in the way of goalscoring prowess, either. They have lost key striker Giussepi Rossi to injury and have doubts about the full fitness of Antonio Cassano. They may have to rely on the wayward talent of Mario Balotelli – who would want to do that? They do have tlent elsewhere, however, in the form of midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.
Italian football is wracked with scandal at the moment, but that has never stopped them doing well before. They won the World Cup in 2006 amid another set of investigations. They were beaten by Russia over the weekend, which may say more about Russia than Italy.
Any group with Spain and Italy in almost certainly consigns the others to also-rans and that’s the case with Ireland and Croatia. Ireland, managed by Giovanni Trapattoni, are incomparable to past sides wearing the shamrock green. And Croatia had a major blow over the weekend when star striker Ivica Olic was ruled out through injury.
Group C will be decided by the meeting of Spain and Italy, but Game of the People is predicting a slight upset:
1- Italy, 2- Spain, 3- Croatia, 4- Ireland
Man to watch: Claudio Marchisio (Italy)