That Italy lined up 3-5-2 was not a huge surprise; it was discussed in the lead up. But that Spain played without a conventional striker was (it would never have happened had David Villa been fit, though). This approach meant that build-up play was largely slow without a direct option. Contrary to popular perception, Cesare Prandelli's men did not all line up behind the ball and were positive. Thiago Motta and Claudio Marchisio did a fine job of closing down Spain's attempts to find a way through the middle while Andrea Pirlo sought to feed Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano. The teams cancelled each other out in the first half.
The game came to life in the second when Spain's movement off the ball visibly improved — there was a great urgency in getting behind the defence. However, Spain's fullbacks — who had been pushed up all game long — risked leaving space in their own half. With Italy fielding two strikers, that threat always lingered and all it would take for a goal was a good through ball from midfield and for an intelligent runner to be on the end of it; Pirlo and Antonio di Natale did that emphatically.
The Italian backline was caught out of place for the equaliser; for once Spain found room through the middle and Cesc Fabregas's run was not picked up. Jesus Navas's arrival and a tiring Italy offered Spain new outlets and more chances. Fernando Torres could have won it with better finishing.
Keywords: Euro 2012