Spain favored, but don’t count out Italy

Classic Jerusalem final clash in store between reigning-champs La Rojita and Azzurrini.

By
June 16, 2013 23:21
2 minute read.
The counterattacking flare of Italy

italy soccer player 370. (photo credit: reuters)

It seems that no one is questioning Spain’s billing as the clear favorite to win the European Under-21 Championship title for a second straight time when it faces Italy in the final at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on Tuesday night.

The Spanish youngsters – or La Rojita – will be looking emulate their country’s senior side which won two consecutive continental titles in Euro 2008 and 2012, beating Italy 4-0 in last year’s final.

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Even Italy coach Devis Mangia was quick to label the Spaniards as superior to his side, but he is still hoping that the game plan which led to the 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in the semifinals on Saturday will also prove itself in the final.

“Spain is playing the best football at this tournament and the results show this,” said Mangia, with the Spaniards accumulating a combined goal difference of 8-0 to date.

“They deserve all the compliments they are getting and they’ll be the favorites for the final. But I don’t mind if they are the favorites because I know on June 18 there will be a green pitch, 11 players, a ball in the middle and we will start at 0-0.”

Italy found itself on the back foot for much of its semifinal encounter, but the Azzurrini were generally comfortable soaking up the Dutch pressure and scored the winner on the break through Fabio Borini in the 78th minute.

“We knew the difficulties we would face,” added Mangia. “When we started the tournament I said to the players to take it step by step. Now we only need to take one last step. We have played good football during the whole tournament and we showed that in the semis. Even in the first half we showed that we could overcome some difficulties.



“The best thing about my team is that even if we are doing well in terms of strength and tactics, we also have the mental strength too.” Italy forward Manolo Gabbiadini echoed his coach’s sentiment.

“We showed huge heart and character and showed we know how to play football,” he said. “The coach has prepared us well, but our determination was crucial. Now we are happy, but straight away we have to focus on Tuesday’s game against Spain.

“It’s a game, 90 minutes, and the ball is round. They are strong but so are we. With humility, and with our feet on the ground, we will try to win.”


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