A pre-match message from a long-standing member of the Cult Football family:
Ciao a tutti !!!
Italy has already won by reaching the final. Having said that, we still have a chance but Spain is by any means the favorite, for many reasons: experience, talent and luck (luck they didn’t have in the past 30 years…).
Let me indulge a little in some philosophy of soccer.
3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, doesn’t really matter…it matters how they play the scheme. Germany lost against Italy psycologically. I guess that seeing those blue jerseys makes them lose focus. They were very erratic in their game and made huge mistakes behind (and Italy didn’t miss this time). So, as in any sport, the team is more than scheme/tactic/champions. USA is a master on this.
I grew up watching soccer and seeing the gold jerseys of Brazil or Germany’s white ones – gives me goosebumps, especially when I see the bright azzurri jerseys on the same field. It brings back memories of great games, players, tears and joy. If you’re a soccer maniac (and these players are), all these emotions run through you on the field at the anthem, in the locker room, and you can get motivated by them or overwhelmed, especially if the opponents are proud and hungry.
Psychology, psychology, psychology. I remember years ago, men’s volleyball, Italy sucked. A few months later, same players, different coach (Velasco), they won everything…it was nicknamed the dream team. I am so surprised and disappointed with the commentators on ESPN: so focused on commenting a Germany-Spain final that they missed so many chances to talk about the emotions and psychology of soccer (Ballack tried, as well as Lalas).
A little about tactics…Pirlo can do what he is doing because De Rossi, Montolivo and Marchisio open up space for him and if they cover Pirlo, Montolivo can find Balotelli, as well as De Rossi finds Cassano. Again, the key for me to beat Spain is first of all to play without fear, and Italy can do that. Second, press their defense high: 3 or 4 players pushing high, leaving De Rossi and Marchisio back to cover for a pass to Xavi or Iniesta. I personally liked the B-B (Barzagli/Bonucci) in the middle with Balzaretti (great tournament so far) and Chiellini on the side. De Rossi should always play in the diamond.
I think Prandelli won’t change the squad that defeated Germany. I do like to see Di Natale though…he is fast and can stress Spain’s defense. Cassano has been great but he is tired. So, I see him playing again for 1 Hr or so and then sub DiNatale. Who knows, maybe a last minute surprise by Prandelli? I like him a lot…he was Roma’s coach for less than 2 months during training then he resign to take care of his wife (she died of cancers few months later). Great man, excellent psychologist and a number one for me as a coach.
Simeone the Italian !!