Euro 2012 final: Spain v Italy as it happened

All the action and analysis as Spain retain their European Championship trophy in style.

1 July 2012 Last updated at 23:18

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As it happened

  1. 2259:  

    So that's it from us for another night, another season, and another tournament.

    Thanks a lot for all your contributions, hope you've enjoyed it. Tune in during the Olympics for coverage of Team GB before we are all back for the start of the new season.

    It will be here before you know it.

  2.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Penko on text: "Spain's team, dominated by La Liga players, wins the tournament, closely followed by Italy, dominated by Serie A players. Yet still people claim the Premier League is the best..."

  3. 2248:  

    Iker Casillas - what's he ever done in his career? I hear you ask.Well at the age of 31, he has now won five league titles, two Champions League trophies, a Copa del Rey, a World Cup and two European Championships.

    Tonight he won his 137th cap for Spain and recorded a 100th win. A record, and an incredible one.

    He is also engaged to Sara Carbonero.

    He wins at life.

  4.  

    Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas talking to the BBC: "It feels really, really amazing. It's one of the best days of my life.

    "I don't think we realise what we've done. But in time we'll see what we've done.

    "Are we boring? People who think we are boring, I don't think they understand the game."

  5.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Rory on text: "Re 22.30: I also really like Buffon, he wears his heart on his sleeve but is also so gracious in defeat. Top player and top role model."

  6.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Amir Mahmud on Twitter: "Poor Prandelli, poor Italy. Had hoped they could've pulled it off! Mario yet again shows why he can't be one of the greats. Inconsistent."

    Christopher Bell on Twitter: "Spain show that football boils down to two simple words. Pass and move."

    Muhammad JQ on Twitter: "48 days? Those are 48 sunrises and sunsets without football. Long days, dark nights."

  7. 2241:  

    Spain's last defeat in European Championship play was a 2-0 loss to Sweden in qualifying in 2006 - a 29-game undefeated run. Incredible.

  8.  

    Spain captain Iker Casillas: "There will always be some criticism as we have set the bar so high that that's what happens when you come down a step.

    "It's been four marvellous years.

    "You might think that a 4-0 margin against Italy means it was easy - but we have been gradually stepping up as the tournament went along."

  9.  

    Spain coach Vicente del Bosque: "To win three titles is almost impossible. Congratulations to the players.

    "I didn't really want to be the coach who wins but the coach who educates. I want to keep preparing them for the future."

  10. 2230:  

    Does anyone else really like Gigi Buffon?

  11.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Bertsprowler on Twitter: "Congrats to Spain. An awesome display of how the game should be played. Pure enjoyment, well done!"

    Tanim Istiaque on Twitter: "Spain are getting all the plaudits but they were boring all along. If they are future, we football fans are in a lot of trouble."

    Marius Dahl on Twitter: "The last proper Euros for a while. Cyprus to play Iceland in Saint-Etinne 2016... 24 teams‬..."

  12.  

    Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: "Tonight, there was no contest, they were too superior - so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative.

    "It was a great adventure. In a final, you have to win but today we played against a team of incredible quality."

  13. 2226:  

    We've all had worse weeks than Jordi Alba haven't we?

  14.  

    Spain left-back Jordi Alba: "It was my first final and we created history; I'm very happy. I can't believe it, it has to sink in.

    "I've also signed for Barcelona and now I want to celebrate. I also scored - my friends told me I would."

  15.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Patrick in London on text: "Greatest team ever? Not quite. Pop David Villa up top and then you've got the best team ever. Frighteningly good."

  16. 2215:  

    Spain have equalled Germany's record of three European Championship wins (1964, 2008 and 2012).

  17. 2211:  

    A BBC montage to Thriller. What more could you want?

    No, seriously?

  18.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Andy on text: "We are seeing a change in football. Spain will be remembered as Spain, not a player. In the past, it's always been a player who led his team to victory. Pele, Maradona, Best. But this side will be remembered for being a great team. It doesn't matter who comes off and who comes on. They play at the same level. It's an honour to see this in my lifetime."

  19.   
    MOTD's Martin Keown in Kiev:

    "Spain are going to dominate for years to come. They have to be the best side ever. I can't see any other team getting near this. Spain have really set the bar high and they have time on their side. They're beautiful to watch and there's something extra special about this team. They're a group of winners."

  20.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Matthew Blackburn on Twitter: "The reign of Spain continues in Ukraine..."

    Mark Thompson on Twitter: "Juan Mata - Juan minute, Juan goal."

    Duncan Wainscott on Twitter: "The more you see Xavi's pass for Spain's second, the better it gets."

  21. 2204:  

    If you could somehow clone footballers, I'd quite like to see this Spanish team take on the current Barcelona team. That would be a decent game.

  22. 2202:  

    The verdict is fairly unanimous it seems - we have just seen the best team ever. Or have we?

  23.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "The people have been fantastic and the competition has been good. I've really enjoyed it, so congratulations to everyone. Ukraine has been excellent and the weather, by the way, has been fantastic!"

  24.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "I've enjoyed this tournament, apart from the travel. Ukraine and Poland have been excellent. I hope England can take some ideas from the Spanish. They've won three times in a row. Why can't we do it? Please, FA, watch!"

  25.   
    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "Right from the word go, they began as champions with the pressure on. Can they win three in a row? Too right they can. The first half was a pleasure and privilege to watch. It was exceptional. That is what the world have to aspire to.

    "They have technical ability in abundance and it is a great night for football for a team to win a major championship in this way, passing their way through two banks of four. The Italians were gracious in defeat and the Spanish were humble in victory. This team must rank with anything we have seen in the last 20-30 years."

  26.   
    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "This team is the best ever. We mention the Brazil sides with Pele but this is absolutely unbelievable what they have achieved."

  27.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD: "Spain are great to watch - unless you are on the receiving end. As for Italy, this is a great starting point to the next World Cup - a new team, a new manager."

  28.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Juju on Twitter: "What's with the ‪Balotelli‬ hating? The guy is upset - allow him to vent without judgement."

    Danny Till on Twitter: "Xavi was outstanding tonight. This performance has sealed his place as the greatest midfielder the game has seen."

    Raj Karia on Twitter: "Hats off to Spain. Sublime footballing nation."

  29.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "A fine competition has got the winners it deserved after Spain's wonderful display."

  30.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Baz in Manchester on text: "So five of the seven goals scored in semis/final scored by Premier League players. Best league in the world but why England will never win a major trophy!"

    Paul on text: "Must be 'boring' for the Spanish players having to repeatedly walk up those stairs as winners."

    Rob in Munster on text: "Two Champions League winners and a Barcelona starter to bring on in the second half not to mention Llorente, Navas, Cazorla. Spain should think about entering a B team for 2014."

  31. 2156:  
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    Massive fireworks display. That should cheer Mario Balotelli up...

  32. 2153:  

    There are tears in the Italy camp as it's all to much for Mario Balotelli and Leonardo Bonucci. Andrea Pirlo looks distraught as well.

    What a player - but at the age of 33 his time may be up on the international stage.

  33. 2151:  

    Iker Casillas lifts the trophy - this is a man who hasn't conceded a goal in the knockout stages of a tournament since 2006.

    That's Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 all won without conceding after the group stage. Incredible.

  34.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "Italy have got a good dressing room and the players really like each other and get on. Football got them here, but when Spain play that well they were too good on the night."

  35. 2151:  

    Come on Matt, there are only 48 days until the start of the season...

  36.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Matt Veira on Twitter: "Balotelli storming off the pitch as soon as the whistle goes... What a terrible loser!"

    Jerry Austin on Twitter: "Spain were mesmeric tonight, arguably better than the Brazilian team of the 70s."

    Matt Cartwright on Twitter: "What a great tournament. Not sure what I'm going to do now there's no football on. Start of the season seems ages away."

  37. 2149:  

    Here come Spain to collect another medal. They must be sick of it.

  38. 2148:  

    It seems strangely ironic that a Spanish side who have largely deleted the need for a centre-forward should end up with a number nine winning the golden boot. Football eh?

  39.   
    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "As soon as Italy went down to 10 men, you could see Fernando Torres was itching to get on because he knew there would be chances. In a strange way it's probably been a frustrating tournament for him because he has only played a bit part. But when he's been asked to do a job he's scored goals and played well."

  40. 2147:  

    Gigi Buffon leads his Italian side up to claim their runners-up medals. A very strong tournament for the Italians, they leave with their heads held firmly high.

  41.   
    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "This is just a fantastic team but it helps that you have a great goalkeeper.

    "The first-half performance was superlative and they should go down as the best team in history. Their technical ability is better than anyone we've seen. They work so hard. Pirlo has been the star of tournament but he has hardly had a kick and that is because of the pressing from the Spanish side.

    "We will be talking about that first-half display for 30 or 40 years."

  42. 2145:  

    The match officials are up to collect their medals, and it's great to say that there has hardly been any red cards or penalties in this tournament. The referees have all (pretty much) been excellent.

  43.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD: "What's astonishing is the desire the Spanish team have to keep winning. This performance shouldn't take anything away from Italy. It's great these players have been able to give people in my country something to cheer about. But Spain were too strong."

  44. 2143:  

    Mario is back out on the pitch now though. He should be proud to go up and get his medal, he's had a good tournament.

  45.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "Kiev's Olympic Stadium has witnessed something truly special tonight."

  46. 2142:  

    Mario Balotelli wasn't a happy man at the final whistle, he went straight down the tunnel after the final whistle.

    He was heading to the dressing room until he was collared by doping control to provide a sample. Not what you need after a hiding.

  47.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD: "Italy were outclassed. They have proved they are an improved side at this tournament, but the final proved they're not there yet. Spain are in a league of their own. Hats off to the Spanish, they deserved to win."

  48.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "We've seen a masterclass today. Spain have been the best team in the world for the last four or five years. They deserved it tonight again, even with 11 v 11.

    "Italy gave a lot of effort, but unfortunately they'd played too many hard games. They felt the pace and Spain, with that superior technique and movement and talent on the ball have ran out easy winners.

    "The Spanish have been criticised but they are the best team in the world without a shadow of a doubt."

  49.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mich on text: "I think this match settles the argument of how much of Leo Messi's success is down to his team mates. For all four goals, there's been a majestic pass from a Barcelona player somewhere in the build-up."

  50.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "Spain are the history men. The European crown is retained to add to the World Cup, and Kiev's Olympic Stadium has witnessed something truly special tonight. Spain do not look bored by it and neither do their supporters."

  51. 2139:  

    It was a real shame that Italy went down to 10 men with half an hour to go, they gave it their all and didn't really deserve to ship four goals. But Spain turned it on when they could and some of that football was just brilliant.

    Boring? Come on...

  52.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "The best team have won. For Italy, it's been a game too far against an absolutely rampant Spanish team."

  53. 2137:  

    That's it, it's all over.

    A superb display by Spain to win their third major trophy in a row. Unprecedented in European football.

  54. 2137:  
    BREAKING NEWS - Spain win Euro 2012
  55. 2136:  
    FULL-TIME - Spain 4-0 Italy
  56.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "The game was very interesting and held your attention, then when Italy went down to 10 men you have to feel a degree of sympathy for them. It's hard enough to play against Spain with 11 men. Italy just haven't had a chance."

  57. 2136:  

    It could be five! Fernando Torres crosses from the left and Sergio Ramos tries a back-heel at the near post but Gigi Buffon is able to save.

  58.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "As Spain's fans celebrate retaining their European crown in such emphatic fashion let the debate begin - have we watched the greatest international team in history tonight?"

  59. 2134:  

    Fernando Torres may be in with a shout for the golden boot now he has claimed that assist. Not 100% sure though.

  60. 2134:  

    I'm willing to concede to Alan Shearer now that this Spain side would probably beat the Northampton Town team circa 1997/98.

  61.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "What a wonderful pass again from that midfield. I thought Torres was going to hit it with his left foot, but fair play to him he saw Mata to his right and played him in. 4-0. Really."

  62.  
    GET INVOLVED

    C Li on Twitter: "The ‪Euro 2012‬ final is no longer a contest, more of a procession for the immortals that are the Spanish."

    KZS on Twitter: "Simply magnificent! Spain - what a team."

    Paul Kent on Twitter: "Spanish footie fans must be pretty drunk on success, or nearing alcoholism. Italy in rehab."

  63. 2131:  
    GOAL - Spain (Juan Mata, 88 mins) 4-0 Italy

    He's only just come on, but Juan Mata gets the fourth. This time it's Sergio Busquets who unlocks the by-now leaky Italian defence with a pass to free Fernando Torres, he draws Gianluigi Buffon before sliding a pass square to Mata to roll in to an open goal.

  64. 2130:  

    With that side-footed finish, Fernando Torres moves level with the players on three goals in this tournament. I think Mario Gomez is in line to win the golden boot though thanks to a dubiously-awarded assist against Denmark.

  65. 2130:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR SPAIN - Juan Mata on for Andres Iniesta
  66.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "Great finish, he timed the run beautifully. We were always bemused why Spain didn't do better in the tournaments. But they've come together at the right time. You'd like to see them play the Brazil 1970 team. Look at the three passes Spain have created for the three goals - outstanding."

  67.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "We said they can score when they want. Italy gave the ball away cheaply, and it was another great weighted pass from Xavi. Torres has been very patient in this tournament coming off the bench, had a chance and scored. It was a great finish into the bottom corner."

  68. 2127:  
    GOAL - Spain (Fernando Torres, 84 mins) 3-0 Italy

    Too easy. Claudio Marchisio gives the ball away in midfield, and Xavi picks out the killer pass this time to release Fernando Torres, who makes history by rolling the ball past Gianluigi Buffon.

    Torres is the first man to score in two European Championship finals.

  69. 2126:  

    We may be entering into 'boring' territory here, but Spain can't half keep the ball. They string together another 30-odd passes before the final killer pass finds Pedro marginally offside.

  70.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "If Spain want to score three or four they can do. But they're taking it easy, knocking the ball around."

  71. 2124:  

    Mario Balotelli has worked his socks off, that is true. He's been filling in down the left since Thiago Motta went off injured. Is he maturing as a player?

  72.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mayowa Olubowale on Twitter: "What has Llorente got to do to get a kick?!"

    Ishan Islam on Twitter: "Nando to finish them off now, he ran the Italians ragged in the group stages. They're finished now."

    Ryan Robinson on Twitter: "Just like to say that Balotelli has put in a good shift in my eyes. Done everything that could be realistically expected."

  73. 2122:  

    Oh, what a miss!

    Jordi Alba is again the engine arriving at pace down the left, and he cuts it back for Pedro to side-foot wide from a few yards out.

    Luckily for Pedro perhaps, he was offside. It was a stunning passing move though.

  74. 2121:  

    It's a bit of a shame that this is petering out. If only Antonio Di Natale could have taken that chance just after the break.

    But take nothing away from Spain- who have justified their rating tonight.

  75.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "There's no doubt, the injury to Motta reducing Italy to 10 men has not killed the game but it has changed it. That's a real shame, because this was a good final. But now it's one-way and Spain can quite comfortably play this out now."

  76. 2118:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR SPAIN - Fernando Torres on for Cesc Fabregas

    Now then Fernando, you are playing for the future of all of striker-kind. Time to turn in a performance...

  77. 2118:  

    Italy's only hope now seems to consist of Andrea Pirlo hitting Antonio Di Natale over the top. The Udinese man is offside though, and Spain then break to good effect with Cesc Fabregas standing up a cross which is well cleared.

    Sergio Busquets then shapes up to shoot from range and sells a lovely dummy to beat his man before losing his footing.

  78. 2114:  

    Chris Waddle is right. This Italian team are gone now.

  79.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "Mentally, as much as physically, this Italian side with 10 men are gone. They've put a lot into this tournament and they will be so tired."

  80. 2112:  

    Spain step on the gas and suddenly Pedro is in behind, but his cross is poor and an Italian toe hooks the ball clear. With 20 minutes to go let's hope Spain go for this.

  81.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Quabena Antwi on Twitter: "Torres about to win his third major trophy in a year that he hasn't really performed."

    George Docherty on Twitter: "Best Euros final for a while, although the Italians really aren't showing an attacking edge. Lots of risks, none paying off."

    Ben Aitkenhead on Twitter: "Sad. Italy down to 10 men with an injury. Used all their subs. Tough challenge now to say least."

  82. 2109:  

    Apparently the biggest ever win in a European Championship final was 3-0 - that could be another record in this Spain side's grasp. Time for Torres?

  83. 2108:  

    The tempo has dropped since that injury to Thiago Motta, as Spain move into dominance mode. You can't fault Italy for their effort though, they are still harrying and chasing for everything.

  84.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "The folks at home can't see but there must be 14 medical people around Motta. Italy's night just got a whole lot tougher. It's a loaves and fishes job now!"

  85. 2105:  

    Thiago Motta lasted four minutes as a substitute there. It's not going to be Italy's night you feel.

  86.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "The next goal will win it, whoever gets it..."

  87. 2104:  

    Oh dear.

    Oh dear, oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    Thiago Motta's hamstring has pinged minutes after coming on and he leaves the field on a stretcher. It looks like Italy will have to play the last half hour with 10 men.

  88. 2103:  

    David Silva was fuming about that, but he's in good company. Juan Mata and Fernando Llorente haven't kicked a ball in the tournament.

  89. 2102:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR SPAIN - Pedro on for David Silva

    I've never seen David Silva sulk before, but he's not happy about this at all.

  90. 2102:  

    Andrea Pirlo sends in a dangerous free-kick which Iker Casillas has to claw away, and then Mario Balotelli shoots over. Italy are trying their hardest.

  91.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "We're getting the good final we'd hoped for. We are seeing the quality of Spain and it's brilliant. But the Italians are sticking with it and if they can find a goal it will be very interesting then. This has been a very good game so far."

  92. 2100:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ITALY - Thiago Motta on for Riccardo Montolivo

    Third and final change for Italy

  93. 2058:  

    Antonio Di Natale has made a difference, he is looking to get in behind all the time and he almost connects with a floating pass from Andrea Pirlo.

    Spain then break again with Jordi Alba and another incisive pass is just cut out. It's captivating stuff.

  94.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Leroy Brito on Twitter: "When do you think that they'll bring Balotelli on?"

    Thomas Acland on Twitter: "You have to say that this Spanish team is mightily impressive and applause to the Italians for giving it such a go."

    Jaymin on Twitter: "Spain are proving the era of a big centre forward is over. Unlucky Andy Carroll, you never had a fair crack at it..."

  95. 2058:  

    If you missed it at half-time on BBC One, here's the BBC's London 2012 Olympics title sequence getting its first outing. Hear that? That's Elbow.

  96. 2056:  

    On second viewing - that was an excellent chance for Italy, and Antonio Di Natale should have done better there.

  97.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "It is a handball. Definitely. A good penalty claim from Spain, and the referee's got a great view to see that clearly."

  98. 2055:  

    And Italy almost do score! Antonio Di Natale is put in to the area but Iker Casillas beats it away and Mario Balotelli can't get on to the rebound. This is positive stuff from the Italians.

  99. 2054:  

    The game is stretched now as both sides hit on the counter. I think we'll see more goals.

  100. 2052:  

    Spain want a penalty now as Sergio Ramos's header is blocked by the hand of Leonardo Bonucci. Definitely strikes his hand, I've seen those given...

  101.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "Wenger's remarks about Spain betraying philosophy and turning into something more negative... the secret of good comedy is always in the timing."

  102. 2051:  

    Just ridiculous football from Cesc Fabregas. He somehow dribbles past three defenders inside the six-yard box but then treads on the ball and it is hacked clear from inside the goalmouth. That really would have been game over.

  103.   
    Alan Green, co-commentator on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I think you can roll out the red carpet for the team in red, but we'll see... It'll need a momentous 45 minutes of recovery from Italy."

  104. 2049:  

    Ooh, and it's a chance for Antonio Di Natale with his first touch! He gets on to the end of a cross from Ignazio Abate but floats his header on to the roof of the net. Italy know they need to strike quickly.

  105. 2049:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ITALY - Antonio Di Natale on for Antonio Cassano

    Italy make the switch at the break

  106. 2048:  
    KICK-OFF - Spain 2-0 Italy

    Here comes the second half...

  107. 2047:  

    This is the first time there have been two or more first-half goals in a Euro final since 1976. Bring on the second half.

  108.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Andy in Edinburgh on text: "So far best game of tournament. Both teams working well and the team with no strikers winning! Is this the end of natural strikers as we know?"

    Rob from Newbury on text: "Italy have had more possession, Spain have committed more fouls."

    Nabil in London on text: "Italy sitting too deep when they've been most successful against Spain actually pressing the action and playing a higher line."

  109. 2043:  

    The best team ever?

    Alan Shearer must not have seen Northampton Town under Ian Atkins.

  110.   
    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "We have seen a master class on how to keep a hold of the ball and pass it around. Spain are playing no forwards and Jordi Alba has been getting the run down the flank time and time again. To even suggest Spain are boring is laughable. It is amazing to watch. You are probably seeing the best team ever. No team has ever done this, no team has won three tournaments on the bounce and we will see history."

  111.   
    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "It was a total masterclass in passing. I don't think I've ever seen something so good. The problems they had when they played no strikers earlier in the tournament was because they passed it poorly, but when they move the ball like that it doesn't matter about not having a striker."

  112. 2040:  

    The highlights of that first half make for some tasty viewing. Spain at their brilliant best.

  113.   
    Martin Keown in Kiev on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "When the Italians are trying to press, Spain are switching the ball from wing to wing. They're not allowing Italy to win the ball high up the pitch. They are doing to the Italians what Italy did to Germany. Italy look almost dead on the feet. In the second half there will have to be a major turnaround. Italy need a good start or they're out of this."

  114.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Phil Hubbersty on Twitter: "First touch by Alba was absolutely awesome!"

    David Baxter on Twitter: "Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull Spain. So boring to watch. Surprised I haven't fallen asleep."

    Franklin Cobbinah on Twitter: "This has stopped being a contest; it is a coronation."

  115.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "We've seen Spain at their best. Italy have given their best, and they're very honest and genuine, but they've come up against a Spain tonight who are totally in control of this game. Maybe this is a match too far for Italy."

  116.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD: "It's quite painful for me to watch. Both sides are having a go at each other, but we don't look the same. We have to admit Spain are an awesome team, Pirlo has been neutralised and we we look tired. The huge mental effort and the travelling has finally taken its toll. We're in big trouble. It's going to be very complicated for us to get back in the game. But if we can get one goal then you never know."

  117.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "Spain have produced two magical moments for both goals here tonight and are firmly in control. The irony is that Italy have not played badly at all and have made a real fight of it."

  118.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "I just hope the Italians don't lose their discipline. We've talked about Pirlo being peerless for Italy, the Spainish performance has been peerless. The options, the way the Spanish recycle the ball, it's outstanding."

  119. 2034:  

    The key thing for that goal was that there were only two Spanish players in the whole half, but they combined perfectly to find a way through. Italy have got it all to do now. An impossible job?

  120. 2033:  
    HALF-TIME - Spain 2-0 Italy
  121.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It is a fantastic goal. Without the run from Alba it's nothing. The pace and the composure when he put it away was great. 2-0, and as much as Italy try to fight back you can't see them getting back into this game, because every now and again Spain play just fantastic football. That was a prime example."

  122. 2031:  
    YELLOW CARD FOR ITALY - Andrea Barzagli

    Cynical bodycheck stops Andres Iniesta in his stride.

  123. 2030:  

    The energy of Jordi Alba was frightening for that goal. From the moment he passed to Xavi, he must have streamed past three or four Italians to get on to the pass. Brilliant.

  124.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "Football doesn't get much better than that. The pace for the goal was absolutely brilliant. As you'd expect the pass was perfect and so was the finish. What do Italy do now? Basically, Spain have done to Italy what Italy did to Germany."

  125.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "What a wonderful goal again. Wonderful interchanges of passing. Terrific pace from Jordi Alba. A great first touch from him and a wonderful finish. That's what Spain can do. They can change the pace so easily."

  126. 2028:  
    GOAL - Spain (Jordi Alba, 41 mins) 2-0 Italy

    This is sheer class. What a goal. Jordi Alba plays the ball inside to Xavi, and then gets on his bike to sprint 40 yards forwards to collect the return pass, which is perfectly weighted. The new Barcelona man then steers an immaculate finish beyond Gigi Buffon for his first international goal. Quality.

  127. 2027:  

    Andrea Pirlo's presence in that midfield is growing. He is seeing more of the ball but hasn't found a killer pass yet.

  128.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Italy are putting in a big shift here, really pulling their socks up. Don't know how long they can keep this going... I think they're feeling the pace. They've had a good 25 minutes of chasing."

  129. 2026:  

    Sergio Ramos goes rogue for a moment for Spain, charging forwards to join in an attack for some reason and being caught out of position as Italy counter.

    Mario Balotelli ends the attack with a shot from 25 yards but it is always rising.

  130.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Gary Trudgett on Twitter: "Alonso is dominating Pirlo‬. Italy need some inspiration. Spain are tactically spot on."

    Matt Nuttall on Twitter: "The worst thing that could have happened to this game. Spain scoring first means long-winded bouts of venomless possession."

    Simon Higgins on Twitter: "Chiellini's injury could be a blessing in disguise. Balzaretti could be the key..."

  131. 2024:  

    Good hassling from Italy forces new Barcelona signing Jordi Alba to put the ball out of play. He'll probably get a fine for that at the Nou Camp.

  132. 2021:  

    After 30 minutes, and according to Prozone, Italy have had 53% of possession so far. It's the first time Spain have been in the minority for the opening half hour at Euro 2012.

  133.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "Italy have shown great resolve since David Silva's goal. No sign of crumbling in the face of Spain's early brilliance."

  134. 2019:  

    Italy very nearly hurt Spain, and it's that man Antonio Cassano again. He unleashes a stinging drive from range which has Iker Casillas worried and the Real Madrid man has to punch it away.

    It's good stuff from Italy.

  135.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Casillas doesn't look convincing tonight, does he? You have to give Italy credit - they've stuck at it. Spain do look dangerous, though. But Italy have responded well, getting hold of the ball and passing it, and Spain have just gone sloppy."

  136.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "The Spanish goal has made Italy very much aware of the fact that they have to come out and do something. But when Spain get the ball, move it about and have an end product with it, in terms of having shots, they look a very good team."

  137. 2017:  

    Italy are having a good spell here, they are seeing plenty of the ball. Can they hurt Spain?

  138.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "Italy digging in here but they have plenty of work to do - as has coach Cesare Prandelli as he prowls what may well be the biggest technical area in world football. The locals seem to have taken Italy's side but few could do anything but marvel at some of Spain's early play."

  139.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Nun-ya on Twitter: "What can the old Italian Stallions do now that they're behind early?"

    Malambo Moonga on Twitter: "First blood Spain but Italy are beginning to settle..."

    Guv on Twitter: "Prandelli has the same problem with his tie that I did at school; thin part longer than the fat part!"

  140. 2015:  

    Good stuff from Italy, they are able to ping the ball quickly out wide to Antonio Cassano on the left, Alvaro Arbeloa sells himself far too easily by diving in and Cassano sends in a low shot which is straight at Iker Casillas.

  141. 2013:  

    Here's our first sight of Federico Balzaretti down that Italian left, and he swings in a great cross which is destined for Mario Balotelli's head until Iker Casillas gets a hand to it and turns it away. Mario gives it the thumbs up, and Italy are still alive and kicking.

  142. 2013:  

    David Silva has now been involved in five goals at the Euros, with three assists and two goals. He's some player.

  143.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "You don't want to give the ball back to Spain when they're ahead. Technically Spain have six midfield players and they swarm. At the moment the Spanish are making the Italians play with their heads down."

  144. 2011:  
    YELLOW CARD FOR SPAIN - Gerard Pique

    Pique comes in hard on Antonio Cassano, he does get a toe to the ball but it was from behind and he is booked by referee Pedro Proenca.

  145.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "The Italians have to come out more here. They've been at the best when they've seen the ball and controlled the game."

  146. 2009:  

    Halfway though the first half, and this has been textbook stuff from Spain. They are hounding Italy in twos and threes whenever the Italians have the ball, and are causing trauma every time they have the ball themselves. It's certainly not been dull.

  147.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Matt in Cheltenham on text: "Spain can be entertaining when they want to score!"

    Tom from Lincoln on text: "If Spain win I wonder if David Villa and Carles Puyol will come down all kitted up to lift the trophy? Or maybe they've got John Terry on standby..."

  148.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "That goal had been coming. Brilliant so far."

  149. 2007:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ITALY - Federico Balzaretti on for Giorgio Chiellini

    Chiellini pulls up with an injury, and he is instantly replaced by Balzaretti - who has had a fine tournament. He is a threat going forwards as well from left-back.

  150. 2007:  

    We've seen it all from Andrea Pirlo now as he produces a perfect last-gasp tackle to deny Andres Iniesta. And now Italy have an injury problem.

  151. 2006:  

    It was a wonderful move for the goal, but you wouldn't expect David Silva to score with a header. He did though, and his header was the 22nd headed goal of the tournament. The previous best at a Euros was 17.

  152.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Richard Smith on Twitter: "GOAL! Come on Espana!"

    James French on Twitter: "Good ball in but poor Italian defending..."

    David Mansfield on Twitter: "Watching Spain makes me realise why I love this sport."

  153. 2004:  

    Another corner and more danger from Italy as Sergio Ramos has to awkwardly head over his own crossbar. This is a fine reaction from the Italians.

  154.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "The Italians just can't cope with the pace and the movement of Spain. Absolutely brilliant. The goal is only what Spain deserve."

  155. 2004:  

    Italy react well to that goal, as Andrea Pirlo hits a free-kick which is deflected wide.

    The following corner is dangerous as well but Iker Casillas is able to tip it away. This is the first time Italy have gone behind in the tournament.

  156.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "Spain have started this game with purpose. It was good pace by Fabregas and, with Spain getting people in the box, Silva gambles, gets his head on it and it's into the top corner. Spain deserve it, they've started this match brilliantly, and Italy look a little tired already."

  157. 2000:  
    GOAL - Spain (David Silva, 14 mins) 1-0 Italy

    Boring, boring Spain craft a gem of a goal.

    Andres Iniesta cuts Italy apart with an inch-perfect ball through, Cesc Fabregas beats Giorgio Chiellini to the byeline and cuts back a perfect cross to allow David Silva to head in from six yards. Brilliant and thoroughly deserved.

  158. 1959:  

    We are 10 minutes in and Andrea Pirlo has hardly seen the ball. Spain's canny game plan of keeping the ball for 70% of the time is seeing to that.

  159.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live

    "This is top-drawer football from Spain. Ones and twos on the floor. Who said these are boring, by the way? Wonderful movement. Xavi will be disappointed that, from inside the D, he didn't hit the target."

  160. 1957:  

    Now this would have been a quite beautiful goal.

    After a spell of 20, maybe more passes, Cesc Fabregas teases a cute ball into the run of Xavi on the edge of the area and the Barcelona legend drills a crisp shot a yard over the crossbar. Just superb.

  161. 1955:  

    Spain have found their rhythm now, pinging the ball about with absolute freedom. This is where Italy have to be patient and keep their shape.

    Somewhere, Arsene Wenger angrily calls for the big ball forward.

  162. 1954:  

    Sergio Ramos takes a dig from a 35-yard free-kick but blasts it high into the stands. Spain are beginning to press now, and Jordi Alba puts in a great cross to the back post but David Silva can't quite get there.

    A striker though, would have been in on goal.

    Ramos then heads over from the corner.

  163.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "Plenty of empty seats around in Kiev's Olympic Stadium for the Euro 2012 final. Real shame."

  164. 1952:  

    Sergio Ramos and Mario Balotelli have already clashed twice in the first five minutes. That could be one to watch, two fiery tempers against each other. It's a bright start here, as Carles Puyol and David Villa watch from the stands.

  165.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Rishi Verma on Twitter: "He's gone the whole tournament without a goal, but I see Marchisio - the 'next Tardelli' - doing a Tardelli celebration after breaking his duck."

    Reece on Twitter: "If I had one wish it would be to have a beard as glorious as Xabi Alonso..."

  166.   
    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson in Kiev:

    "I suspect Italy didn't expect to be in the final themselves. Spain have six midfielders. That should just about be enough to take care of [Andrea] Pirlo."

  167. 1950:  

    Antonio Cassano was magnificent against Germany, and he has already seen plenty of the ball by dropping dep and wide. But now Spain have their first real passage of passing, and David Silva wriggles away from a man delightfully but can't find a way through.

  168. 1949:  

    Man of the tournament (possibly), Andrea Pirlo has the first shot of the final, but screws his 25-yard shot well wide as the ball span out to him. Italy have started well.

  169. 1947:  
    KICK-OFF - Spain v Italy (19:45 BST)

    The final of Euro 2012 is under way.

  170.  
    Man City defender Joleon Lescott on Twitter

    "Really don't care who wins because its David Silva v Mario Balotelli, but I'm thinking Italy."

  171.  
    Everton captain Phil Neville on Twitter

    "Buffon man of match already. Brilliant singing by the Italians!"

  172.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Justin Thornhill on Twitter: "Italy to win this one. Defended superbly against Germany and if they can see enough of the ball will create in front of goal."

    Josh Brigham on Twitter: "Spain on the brink of greatness, can they add a new chapter in the history books?"

    Jamie Hardesty on Twitter: "Hope Spain win; justifying the false nine philosophy brings the game in to a new era."

  173. 1944:  

    The choir are left a bit redundant by the Spanish anthem, which has no words. Here we go then, it's game time.

  174. 1943:  

    Gigi Buffon said in a press conference earlier this week that he thinks of his grandparents who died during World War II when he sings the anthem. He has produced another hugely passionate display there. Top marks.

  175. 1940:  

    Gigi Buffon is going to get some help here by a choir wearing Italy scarves. He'll still drown them out.

  176.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer in Kiev:

    "Marvellous inflatable of the Euro 2012 trophy pops up. Splendid stuff. Still not quite as big as the Champions League trophy though."

  177.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD on Mario Balotelli: "I don't think it was easy for Balotelli growing up in Italy. He's only 21 and still growing up. His understanding with [Antonio] Cassano is terrific. Cassano is a genius. But keep an eye on [Claudio] Marchisio - he could be a match winner."

  178. 1939:  

    The players are in the tunnel. Get yourself ready for a Gigi Buffon national anthem masterclass.

    That man can bang out an anthem like no-one else.

  179.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Tom in Manchester on text: "So Wenger doesn't like the way Spain have played. What's he won in the past five years then? How many major finals has he got to? Ignorant."

    Luke on text: "Cheeky mention of player-managers by Vialli there, subtly trying to remind us all of his days as a player-manager at Chelsea in the 90s."

  180. 1936:  

    Galileo may have done many things - he championed the belief that the earth orbits around the sun, he discovered four moons of Jupiter, and was called the father of modern science by Albert Einstein.

    But he didn't get the best out of Mario Balotelli now, did he?

  181.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD on Italy coach Cesare Prandelli: "He's a bit like Galileo, he's a visionary. We play sexy football and we're still getting results. He has always stuck to his principles. Everyone has been magnificent but Prandelli picks the team, he organises the formation."

  182. 1928:  

    The closing ceremony of Euro 2012 is about to start. You can watch the full ceremony online and on the Red Button, should you wish.

  183. 1926:  

    Not that I expect Spain to come out slugging like Rocky Balboa. That's not really their style. They're more of a Floyd Mayweather.

  184. 1925:  

    The Spain players are heading down the tunnel after completing their warm-up to the strains of Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger.'

    If that doesn't pump them up, nothing will.

  185.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD: "We [Italy] are very brave, keep possession and it's been wonderful to watch. We are masters when it comes to tactics. We know how to face different teams with different systems. They play six midfielders so they are going to keep possession. We need to defend actively, and try to hurt them with two strikers."

  186.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It's interesting to see that Italian fans want this style of football. They don't want a negative instinct, and they want to get rid of it. But they have to be very careful - they are playing against an excellent Spain team. There will have to be some excellent defending."

  187.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Rasheed Khalifa on Twitter: "These Spaniards are a joke. No striker in a final? Hope they pay the price big time."

    Andy Hudson on Twitter: "Fancy Italy to win this tonight. Spain not picked an adventurous team and they are predictable. Italy just ooze charisma!"

    Si on Twitter: "It's too close! The Spanish have more all round class, but if Balotelli/Cassano/Pirlo fire Italy have a greater cutting edge."

  188.   
    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "Spain have done it without two great players, David Villa and Carles Puyol. The hunger and desire to get to the final again is remarkable. They are all big stars but you don't see any egos. They all work for each other and want to go into the same direction in winning the tournament having tasted so much success."

  189. 1920:  

    No pressure from Gianluca Vialli then...

    Italy are blessed with plenty of top players obviously, but in main man Andrea Pirlo they have a midfielder who has not lost a league game since 2010. Ridiculous.

  190.  

    Former Italy international Gianluca Vialli on MOTD: "Italy might not be good at producing politicians but we are good at producing players, managers, and player-managers.

    "We are going through a very difficult time in Italy with the recession and the latest scandal to hit the game. But sometimes winning can change the destiny of a country and hopefully that will happen tonight."

  191.   
    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "We've talked long and hard about the Spanish in and out of possession but you don't win as many games without the mental strength to go with it. They found some inner strength to pick themselves up against Portugal in the semi-final and win it.

    "I think Spain's movement is slower. They are not as potent as they used to be. They are magnificent to watch but they can be more direct. I don't think I've seen a side so poor in possession for 90 minutes and then come out and be so good in extra-time as Spain in the semi-final."

  192. 1918:  

    Both sides are chock-a-block with big-match experience, but the Spanish should hold the edge when it comes to major international finals.

    Seven of tonight's starting XI started the World Cup final two years ago, while the quartet of Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Ramos are starting their third major final in a row.

    There should be no nerves in that changing room right now then.

  193.   
    Martin Keown in Kiev on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Italy's defenders have been outstanding. They just do a decent job. There are no outstanding players but they know their roles. The way that Sergio Ramos nailed Ronaldo in that semi-final, I think he has too much for Mario Balotelli. But then against Germany that was the best I've ever seen Mario play. It was the game of his life. Can he reproduce that again?"

  194. 1911:  
    LINE-UPS - Spain v Italy (19:45 BST)

    Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta. Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina.

    Italy: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Pirlo, Marchisio, Montolivo, De Rossi, Balotelli, Cassano. Subs: Sirigu, Maggio, Ogbonna, Thiago Motta, Balzaretti, Di Natale, Giaccherini, Borini, Giovinco, Diamanti, Nocerino, De Sanctis.

    Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)

  195.   
    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "Spain have changed the face of how they play, with six in midfield and no striker. Coaches in the world will be looking at that and thinking if they can do that with their teams and win. Defensively, they are so hard to beat and don't concede goals.

    "For Italy, who would have thought after drawing to New Zealand two years ago that they would be here? They thoroughly deserve it. The Spanish guys have a chance to create history by winning three majors in a row and if they do, they should be known as the best team ever."

  196. 1908:  

    The stage has been set for a great game then. Do not let us down lads.

  197.   
    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "This is jam-packed with quality. We've drooled about the Spanish in the last few seasons. Against the Portuguese they were poor and then came to life. The Italians were like 2006 early on; pedestrian, with no pace. But against the Germans they were electric and put one of the great displays on.

    "The Spanish aren't moving the ball as well as they have done previously. As a goal threat they haven't been as good. But they are a wonderful side."

  198.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Devan in Coventry on text: "I'm an Arsenal fan and totally agree with Arsene. Spain have been disappointing this tournament. The absence of David Villa has affected their style of play. I have no idea why Fernando Llorente has not been played. Today their style, or lack of it, will get found out against a revolutionary Italian side."

    K-Dogg from Edinburgh on text: "At Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, Spain have played a combined total of nine knockout matches and kept nine clean sheets. That's 900 minutes (including extra times) without conceding a goal, against the very best teams in the world. Wenger is spot on about Spain using possession as a form of defence and it's clearly a very successful strategy."

  199. 1903:  

    Spain just do not concede goals - but the one they have at this tournament came from Italy, and six of the 12 saves Iker Casillas has had to make all tournament came in that opening game against the Italians.

    Can Italy get at Spain?

  200.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I think it's going to be a very interesting game. We're looking forward to a very tight match. Both sides will look to have the most possession, and both teams will try to make the best use of the ball at the right times. How will Spain deal with Pirlo? There will be occasions surely when Pirlo isn't marked, and the great players need only a few seconds of influence to change a game."

  201.   
    Chris Waddle in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Italy play very narrowly with Pirlo sitting in a diamond. If you're Silva or Iniesta on the wings, if you hang out wide and Spain switch the ball quickly they can pressurise Italy. England had 10 minutes of joy playing like that. If Spain really want to win this game they need to switch the play very, very quickly."

  202. 1901:  

    A bold call from Keown. Italy to be blown away? You heard it here first.

  203.   
    Martin Keown in Kiev on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "One thing that was obvious from a young age with Cesc Fabregas is the simplicity in his play. Cesc always played two-touch from a very young age. He's a great viewer of movement, and he's so intelligent. He'll slot into that false number nine role. He's remarkably intelligent and he plays with inspiration and character. I honestly think the Italians could get blown away tonight."

  204. 1859:  

    Match of the Day is starting now. Join Gary Lineker, Gianluca Vialli, Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer live in Kiev. Go on.

  205.  
    Spain-based football journalist Graham Hunter on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It's just ludicrous from Arsene Wenger, for a man with such a brilliant football mind. Where is the concession for the fact that they've lost their all-time leading scorer [David Villa]?

    "Where's that? They're playing like this and if they had a cutting edge with Villa here and fit, Spain would be absolutely taking every other side to the cleaners. Arsene Wenger's point is a false debate. They entertain as a by-product - they keep the ball so they can win."

  206. 1856:  

    Arsene Wenger's comments have divided the camp it seems.

    But here's one man who disagrees. Vehemently.

  207.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev:

    "Colourful and vibrant atmosphere outside Kiev's Olympic Stadium. Brass bands, people on stilts and the colours of many countries apart from Euro 2012 finalists Italy and Spain. Germany fans out in force and in great form despite their semi-final loss to Italy while Ukraine fans are there in numbers too.

    "Of the two teams in the final, it looks like Spain will have the bigger support - but plenty of time for more Italians to make their presence felt yet."

  208.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Nahsradus on Twitter: "Wenger is right on about Spain."

    Adam J on Twitter: "You can't concede if your opponents don't have the ball. This is Spain's philosophy as told by Aragones. Wenger is ignorant."

    Krishan Kumar Goyal on Twitter: "I don't think any of the Italians would have started in the Spanish line-up today. Maybe Pirlo as a substitute..."

  209. 1852:  
    Spain v Italy (19:45 BST)

    Both teams make one change from their respective semi-finals. Ignazio Abate is fit again for Italy and so returns to their defence in place of Federico Balzaretti. Left-back Balzaretti filled in on the right in the win over Germany, but Abate's return will provide greater balance to the Azzurri back-line.

    Spain return to a line-up with no recognised striker as Cesc Fabregas is recalled in place of Alvaro Negredo. The Sevilla forward made no impact on the semi-final against Portugal and was replaced by Fabregas before the hour.

  210. 1848:  
    BREAKING TEAM NEWS - Spain v Italy (19:45 BST)

    Spain make one change, as Cesc Fabregas comes in for Alvaro Negredo, while Italy have right-back Ignazio Abate back from injury.

  211. 1848:  

    Before we carry on with this Arsene Wenger debate - a quick Olympics interjection.

    You can see the first showing of the BBC Olympics trail at half-time of tonight's game, and you can keep across all things Olympic for the next six weeks or so by using the hashtag #bbc2012 on Twitter. Why not start now?

  212. 1842:  

    Do we agree with Arsene Wenger then? Any Arsenal fans have a view?

  213. 1842:  

    Arsene Wenger goes on.

    "Originally Spain wanted possession in order to attack and win the game; now it seems to be first and foremost a way not to lose," he said.

    "They have become more conservative, and they don't want to give the ball up because they don't want to give you a chance to score. That's the impression you get from Euro 2012. Yes, it can be hard to break down defensive opponents, but this is a challenge that confronts every successful team. They are still absolutely outstanding, but they have less penetration than before."

  214.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Luqmaan Jogi on Twitter: "Best game= England v Sweden. Best player = Pirlo. Best performance = Balotelli v Germany."

    Cameron Sim on Twitter: "Best goal = Blaszczykowski. Best player = Andrea Pirlo. Best match = Portugal 3-2 Denmark."

    George Swindle on Twitter: "No striker for Spain again. Fancy Italy to take advantage but they will have to be on their best, most clinical form."

  215. 1838:  

    One man who is not happy with Spain's playing style is Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

    Yep, honestly - Arsene Wenger. I thought he would take much joy in their play, but it appears not.

    "Throughout their years of success, they have tried to keep the same philosophy, which is based around wanting to have the ball," Wenger said in his Eurosport column.

    "However, they have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative."

  216. 1834:  

    All the pre-match chat we have heard is that Spain will indeed start with Cesc Fabregas tonight, so we are again going to see no central striker. Will this be the legacy of this tournament, as sides over the next few years stop playing with any forwards?

  217.   
    Graham Taylor in Kiev for BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I thought Mario Balotelli's finishing for both of Italy's goals against Germany was superb. But don't mention Germany's defending to me! It was absolutely disgraceful, and I can't understand it. That doesn't take away from Balotelli's finishing - the poor defending was not his fault and he took full advantage of it."

  218. 1829:  

    Andrea Pirlo has shown in successive knockout games that if he is allowed to get his foot on the ball often enough, he can win a game almost single-handedly for Italy.

    Spain - with their superb midfield of Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas - will expect to monopolise the ball.

    Tonight, they may just have to.

  219. 1825:  

    Yep, Mario Balotelli showed in the semi-final against Germany that when he is on it - he is on it. If you look in the dictionary under the definition of 'putting your foot through it' you will now see Mario's second goal that night.

    The question is will he see enough of the ball to threaten Spain this evening? That is where Andrea Pirlo comes in.

  220.  
    Everton captain Phil Neville on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Italy have improved as the tournament's gone on. They also have the player of the tournament in Andrea Pirlo. He's had a renaissance and he's got fantastic ability to pick a pass and dictate the pace of a game. He's very similar to Xabi Alonso in that respect and I think whoever plays best of of those two will probably dictate who wins the game."

  221. 1820:  

    So what can we expect? Well if it's as good a game as the earlier meeting between these two sides then we will not be bored. Italy played very well against Spain that afternoon, with Antonio Di Natale coming off the bench to score before Cesc Fabregas levelled from his 'false nine' position.

    A good friend of mine, who is half Italian, text me last night predicting Di Natale to repeat his feat from the bench in the final. It's all about Mario though, surely?

  222. 1815:  

    That England win over Sweden was a hugely enjoyable affair wasn't it? Possibly not the greatest display of technical football we have seen over the last few weeks, but give me a pony-tailed man smashing in a 20-yard header any day of the week.

    I'm fairly sure we won't see that in tonight's final mind.

  223.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mario on Twitter: "Best player = Pirlo. Best game = Sweden 2-3 England. Best moment = Balotelli double against Germany."

    Will Robbins on Twitter: "Best game = Spain 1-1 Italy. Best goal = Ibrahimovic. Players = Iniesta and Pirlo. Best Memory = England's comeback v Sweden."

  224. 1811:  
    GET INVOLVED

    Phil has set the question, so let's have your answers. Fire over those nominations for best players, goals, worst displays - whatever you like. You can Tweet us at #bbcfootball, and text in on 81111 (UK Only). PUT YOUR NAMES ON THOSE TEXTS though won't you? Lovely stuff.

  225.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "One game to go at Euro 2012. Let me know your best players, games, goals and memories from Poland/Ukraine?"

  226. 1808:  

    Now just 90 minutes, or possibly 120 minutes, separate Spain or Italy from glory in what I hope we all agree has been a very decent tournament.

    Yes, there were a few goalless draws for us to negotiate at the business end of the knockout stage, but for my money at least this has been a very strong three weeks of football. It's a shame it has to end really...

  227. 1803:  

    Evening all, we all set for the final then?

  228. 1800:  

    I am now going to hand over to Mr Tom Rostance, who will guide you up to, through and beyond the final itself. I'll leave you by pointing you in the direction of our goals of the tournament video (hopefully, so far) to get you in the mood for tonight. I'll see thee.

  229. 1756:   
    BBC Radio 5 live's John Motson on England at Euro 2012:

    "If we had said about three weeks ago that England would have been knocked out at the quarter-final stage then we'd have said that is about right. Roy Hodgson made the most of the resources that he had. The question now is where England go from here. Roy has now got more thinking time and what I think will happen is that Roy will go out to Premier League clubs and possibly do a coaching session with the players there at his disposal. We have got a comfortable looking qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup - and that could give the manager some scope to bring some of the younger players through."

  230. 1755:  

    If you remain on the fence, maybe Messrs Vialli, Keown and Klinsmann can help you make your mind up., with their own views on who is going to prevail in Kiev.

  231. 1753:  

    I refer you back to the question I posed at the start of this text commentary: who is going to win Euro 2012? If you're still undecided you may want to have a look at our final by numbers piece. You won't be surprised to learn that it tells you all about the final, in numbers.

  232. 1749:   
    BBC Radio 5 live's John Motson on his player of the tournament:

    "I think you have to say Italy's Andrea Pirlo has been the outstanding creative player because of the way he has manipulated the ball and run the game in the last two matches, It seems to be that regardless of how a team tries to surround him and stop him it is very difficult to curb his influence on a game."

  233. 1745:   
    BBC Radio 5 live's John Motson on his team of the tournament:

    "I would put Spain's Iker Casillas in goal. He has more than 130 caps and is a great leader. I would pick him ahead of Gianluigi Buffon but will be interesting to see them both on the same field in a final. I like French right-back Mathieu Debuchy and Portugal left-back Fabio Coentrao. I gave Jolean Lescott high marks for his performances and was impressed with Greece's Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Moving into midfield, I was impressed with Denmark's Michael Krohn-Dehli, who scored twice.

    "Steven Gerrard probably does merit a midfield place, but I also have to look at Spain, perhaps from Alonso, Xavi and Iniesta, and then there is Italy's Andrea Pirlo. Up front I would say that Mario Gomez, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney all disappointed, and Spain appear unwilling to start with a recognised striker, but Mario Balotelli stands out."

  234.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Edwards on Twitter: "Spain are boring and really nothing special. Expect Balotelli and Pirlo to dominate tonight."

    Kieron Stapleton on Twitter: "Can't believe people are calling Spain boring! I still find it beautiful to watch. People are just bored of them winning."

    Matthew Curran on Twitter: "2-1 Spain. Torres to overcome his demons and score a triumphant winner."

  235. 1742:  
    Everton captain Phil Neville on BBC Radio 5 live

    "We'd all love to play the Spanish way, and they're still the best team in Europe. Italy, for me, have played fantastically well. They entered with a lot of scandal surrounding them, and that created a siege mentality.

    "There's a massive rivalry between both countries in this massive game, but for me Spain are favourites. They've won the last two major tournaments and they've got the players with the greater confidence."

  236. 1739:  
    Everton captain Phil Neville on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Spain have gone into a lot of games in this tournament playing without a striker. When you're constantly winning and improving you need to find other ways of playing.

    "There's been a lot of negativity surrounding this Spain team, particularly after their victory against Portugal. I think it's unfounded. They play fantastic football. They probably need a little more speed, but they've still played the best football at Euro 2012."

  237. 1736:  

    All of Spain's quality in personnel and play adds up to one thing: them being favourites tonight. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli agrees. "I open my eyes but I'm still dreaming," said Prandelli. "There's great satisfaction here as everyone has put so much work into this. But Spain will go into the game as favourites. They've been working on this for many years and have dominated every single contest. They are a brilliant side." Mind games? I'll let you decide.

  238. 1733:  

    Spain's Vicente Del Bosque could become only the second coach to win both the World Cup and the European Championship tonight. West Germany's Helmut Schon was the first, claiming the Euros in 1972 and World Cup in 1974.

    "We've worked very hard for many years and we'd like victory to crown that work. We cannot look back," said Del Bosque of tonight's final. "Italy have won the World Cup four times; we won the Euros four years ago. There's some history but we have to look to the present. We've played similar tournaments: we were in the same group and have both won on penalties. Our style of play is also very similar so there's not a great difference between the teams."

  239. 1730:  

    Spain are favourites for a reason, though. Cesc Fabregas can caution his team-mates about Italy's quality, but they are not short of talent themselves. The Barca-themed midfield often takes most of the credit, but their goal has been guarded by a true Real Madrid stalwart, who has proved to be one of the most consistent performers on the world stage. Since Antonio Di Natale's 61st-minute effort for Italy in the group stage, Iker Casillas has gone 419 minutes without conceding. In addition, Spain have kept nine successive clean sheets in major tournament knockout games.

  240. 1726:  

    Prandelli is certainly talking the talk ahead of the final. If his side live up to his words it should make for a great game. "I really hope we can be positive and take the game to them," he said. "Spain's strength is not only possession, but also the way they win it back. We've got to pick our moments and work a numerical superiority in certain areas. We don't expect to be in charge from the first minute to the last, but we know we can play our own football when the opportunity arises."

  241.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Daniel Jamieson on Twitter: "I would much rather watch Spain than see Joe Hart repeatedly smash the ball towards Carroll's face. Only one of those is boring."

    Phil Jones on Twitter: "Spain are in the final again. It doesn't matter how you get there, winning is what is important."

    Yasemin CM on Twitter: "Noticed that Pirlo looks like Snape, and he has been magic in the Italian midfield..."

  242. 1724:  

    Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has done a very clever thing with the national side. Like Italy's opponents tonight, Prandelli has built his side around the quality of a single successful club side. Spain's side has the highly-successful Barcelona's midfield at it's core. Italy's side is built around the base of this season's undefeated (in the league) Juventus side. Keeper Gianluigi Buffon, defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci and midfield anchor Andrea Pirlo are all members of The Old Lady side.

  243.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "I do find this bandwagon that Spain are 'boring/negative' amazing. Would England's fans be bored watching their team play like Spain? No."

  244. 1718:  

    Italy have had a number of impressive performers at this championship, but Andrea Pirlo stands head and shoulders above them all. The 33-year-old midfielder has pulled the strings for his side, all without seeming to break a sweat. Pirlo came into the tournament off the back of first season with Juventus, during which they went unbeaten in the league and were defeated in the Coppa Italia final. It means Pirlo has only suffered one defeat since December 2010.

    There are sure to be some awkward glances exchanged at AC Milan.

  245. 1715:  
    Ian Dennis, BBC Radio 5 live football reporter

    "Spain are supremely controlled, and I don't think they're boring. They're fascinating. What at times they do lack is a cutting edge. If they converted all their possession into chances they would absolute annihilate teams. They are winners. They are on a record-breaking run and are one of the best sides the world has ever seen."

  246. 1714:  
    Ian Dennis, BBC Radio 5 live football reporter

    "Italy know exactly what they're going to encounter tonight. They met three weeks ago in that 1-1 draw in Gdansk. The fascinating thing for me then was that Italy played with three at the back. But now they've developed a balance with four in defence, and they've got stronger. I think their tactical approach against Spain will be to try and close down the space and to win the ball back."

  247. 1714:   
    John Motson , BBC Radio 5 live

    "Balotelli could be anything in the final, he can be a matchwinner but equally he can be very frustrating. The question is whether Italy can get enough of the ball to service Balotelli."

  248. 1713:  

    Balotelli came to life in Italy's semi-final win over Germany, scoring two superb goals and demonstrating every inch of the best side of his two-sided persona. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says the Manchester City striker is flourishing at Euro 2012 because he is surrounded by "great champions". Unfortunately, Leonardo Bonucci denied us the chance to find out what Mario thinks of his coach.

  249. 1710:  

    Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas has every right to be confident after scoring the winning penalty in the semi-final shoot-out against Portugal. However, he is playing it very cautious. He has warned his side about the threat posed by Italy's players.

    "They have strong players like Balotelli, tricky players like Cassano," said the Barcelona player. "In midfield they have special players like [Claudio] Marchisio and [Andrea] Pirlo, who's had a great tournament. It will be a tough game."

  250. 1708:   
    Mark Pougatch, BBC Radio 5 live presenter

    "Italy are a very attractive team to watch, they really are. We all know what Pirlo did against England but he was terrific the other night against Germany. He was man of the match again. We all grew up with Italy winning 1-0, but this team is very attacking and very tactically flexible. We don't know exactly what system they'll play this evening."

  251. 1706:  

    Spain have also been victorious in the 2010 World Cup, on their sole final appearance while Italy have succeeded on the global stage in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006. They also appeared in the final in 1970 and 1994, but lost.

  252.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Doug in Altrincham on text: "Watch Italy knock the ball long the first chance they get for Balotelli to run onto. The same tactics pushed England's midfield back into their own half and allowed Pirlo room to work his magic and of course it worked against Germany with Balotelli's super goal."

    Jack from Norwich on text: "Been eating Italian food all day in support of the Blues! Pirlo to be the difference between the sides unless Llorente is given a chance."

  253. 1704:  

    Tonight, Spain are competing in their fourth European Championships final. Their first was in 1964, when they beat the USSR 2-1 on home soil. Their second final was in 1984, in which they were beaten by France. They of course won it in 2008, beating Germany 1-0.

    Italy are in their third final (fourth if you include replays... and you're a pedant). They beat Yugoslavia 2-0 in a repaly in 1968 after drawing the first game 1-1. They lost 2-1 to France in 2000, when David Trezeguet scored a golden goal winner.

  254.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Nick Gillett on Twitter: "All about Iniesta today. I fancy 1-0 and he will get the goal."

    Ijaz on Twitter: "The way this season has turned out so far, I can only see ‪Italy‬ winning tonight. Pirlo and Buffon will outshine Xavi and Casillas."

    Ruaridh Williams on Twitter: "If Spain win my hair is going the colours of the Spain flag. If Italy win, the hair is going blue!"

  255. 1654:   
    Mark Pougatch, BBC Radio 5 live presenter

    "Yesterday, Graham Taylor told me Elton John was in town, and suggested we went to see the concert and see Elton beforehand. So we were ushered in - Chris Waddle, myself and Graham. You have to say, he really loves his football, Elton John. He's really passionate. We talked about these Euros, where England go next, the young players and of course Watford.

    "Then during the concert there was a young fan in a Watford shirts and scarf, who of course got hauled onto the stage. Then we saw Queen afterwards."

  256. 1653:  

    Italy have also put together a handy little run in the Euros. They have gone 18 games without a defeat over 90 minutes since losing 3-0 to the Netherlands in their opening match at Euro 2008. Everything suggests a close encounter tonight. Nip and tuck stuff.

  257. 1649:  

    It is only Spain's phenomenal form that makes Italy's pale in comparison. The Azzurri have been doing pretty well themselves of late, thanks very much. Their last competitive defeat was in the 2010 World Cup, when Slovakia beat them 3-2. The depths to which that defeat plunged them has clearly been followed by one hell of a response. They have since won ten and drawn five. Nay bad.

  258. 1647:  
    Paolo Bandini, Italian football journalist, on BBC Radio 5 live

    "In the first game in the first half Italy were able to press. The basically played Spain at their own game, high up the pitch and trying to win the ball back in areas that are far away from their own goal. Italy tired towards the end of the first game and that's the problem with that as a strategy - it is an exhausting plan. Perhaps now, later in the tournament, it will be even more so, but that's what I believe Italy will try to do."

  259. 1643:  
    Paolo Bandini, Italian football journalist, on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Andrea Pirlo has been absolutely sensational. In Italy now there are certainly discussing him as a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or this season. Look at the season he's had - he hasn't lost a game in Serie A since 2010 and he's had an incredible time at Juventus. He's come into this tournament and be the star player for Italy pretty much throughout."

  260. 1640:  
    Paolo Bandini, Italian football journalist, on BBC Radio 5 live

    "A lot of teams that have faced Spain in this tournament have attempted to park the bus. Actually, Italy are the one team that really attacked Spain and got at them, and it was probably Spain's most entertaining game of Euro 2012. The hope in Italy is that they will attack and try to play their own game once again."

  261. 1636:  

    However, Italy do already have one psychological feather in their cap as the 1-1 draw in Gdansk ended Spain's run of 14 straight competitive victories since the 1-0 loss to Switzerland in their opening game of the 2010 World Cup finals. There would be no more spectacular way for Italy to end Spain's unbeaten run than tonight. They'll get a lovely shiny trophy for their trouble as well.

  262. 1632:  
    Ian Dennis, BBC Radio 5 live football reporter

    "Shared 60 seconds in a lift with Gianluca Vialli earlier. He says he is not confident for Italy."

  263. 1632:  

    History is on Italy's side, but Spain have the form. They are now unbeaten in 19 competitive fixtures and have now gone 28 games without defeat in this competition since losing 2-0 in Sweden in a Euro 2008 qualifier on 7 October 2006. Their last defeat at a Euro finals was a 1-0 loss to hosts Portugal in the 2004 group stage that saw them eliminated.

  264.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "Our Kiev hotel heavily populated with Germany fans expecting to be in the Euro 2012 final - but very good-humoured and sporting about it all."

  265.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Crip Cooke on Twitter: "Spain have a lot of under-performing players leading up to the finals. Italy are full of confidence and playing without fear."

    Herschelle Labahn on Twitter: "Football is about getting the result. The opposition finds it extremely hard to get the ball never mind scoring against Spain."

    Daniel P Hockings on Twitter: "I hope Spain win because they have done it without a centre forward. What hope does the world have when Villa comes back?"

  266. 1625:   
    John Motson , BBC Radio 5 live

    "The final will be a game that is determined in midfield, goodness knows how many quality players there are in that position. Can Andrea Pirlo and Daniele de Rossi get enough of the ball to do what they did to Germany? Will Spain find an end product to their possession football? They have missed injured striker David Villa. I am hoping that it will be a good game - often the final is an anti-climax, I have been to so many like that. I've got to make Spain marginal favourites. This is their third consecutive final, and they have got some players who have become household names."

  267. 1620:  
    Begona Perez, football journalist for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, on BBC Radio 5 live

    "I'm not sure Del Bosque trusts the three strikers he's got in his squad. With Cesc Fabregas, that option has worked quite well - he has been good at distracting defenders. I think that will be his choice tonight."

  268. 1618:  
    Begona Perez, football journalist for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Obviously there has been a lack of definition at Euro 2012, and obviously there is a debate about whether to play with a real striker. But the main point is that David Villa has been deeply missed and Del Bosque has had to find alternatives."

  269. 1615:  
    Begona Perez, football journalist for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, on BBC Radio 5 live

    "If you asked any Spanish supporter if Spain are boring, they would ask whether it is boring to reach a third consecutive final? Is it boring to be the team with more passes completed collectively and individually at this tournament? I don't think they really care about this discussion."

  270. 1612:  

    Italy have also had the pleasure of inflicting the heaviest defeat in Spain's history. In the 1928 Olympics, they beat them 7-1 in a replay following a 1-1 quarter-final draw.

    England fans may want to take some minor crumbs of comfort from the fact that they matched this result against the Spanish in a friendly on 9 December 1931. You've got to take what you can in tough times.

  271. 1608:  

    Italy and Spain have met six times before in major tournaments. The first was in the 1934 World Cup quarter-final, which Italy won 1-0 in a replay following a 1-1 draw in Florence. Giuseppe Meazza scored the goal. Italy also beat Spain in the group stage of the 1988 Euros (1-0 thanks to Gianluca Vialli's goal) and the last eight of the 1994 World Cup (2-1 with a Baggio (Dino and Roberto) double either side of a Jose Luis Caminero goal). The two also drew 0-0 in the group stage of the 1980 Euros and the quarters of the same competition in 2008 (Spain won that 4-2 on penalties). And there's the 1-1 draw just three weeks ago.

    As an added treat, you can watch the Divine Ponytail-themed action from 1994 on our site.

  272. 1604:  

    Italy are no strangers to success in encounters with Spain either. In fact, they've absolutely bossed the Spanish for the best part of a century. Italy have not lost to Spain in their last 10 competitive meetings and have not been beaten by La Roja in a meaningful match since their very first meeting (a 2-0 win in the 1920 Olympics - although they did beat Italy on penalties in the 2008 Euros).

  273.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "So, the last game of enjoyable Euro 2012 adventure in Poland/Ukraine. Spain and Italy have capability to give fine tournament conclusion it deserves.

    "Some sun-worshippers already congregating in the areas around the stadium in Kiev. They may need - and will take - liquid refreshment."

  274.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Peter Orwa Junior on Twitter: "I like how Spain played in the semis' extra-time. That fluid no-striker system could cause Italy problems. Go Spain!"

    Tom Mason on Twitter: "Pirlo had Spain's number in the opener. Exquisite pass for Di Natale goal, left three players for dead with a great turn. Same again?"

    Capital R on Twitter: "Counting down the minutes until the final, cannot wait but at the same time I'm sad this memorable Euro 2012 is almost over..."

  275. 1558:  

    Of course, Italy are no strangers to success. The aforementioned World Cup win in 2006 was their fourth success in the global competition. They have also bagged the European Championships once before, in 1968. It doesn't matter how unfancied they are they are never far away (barring a North/South Korea or a Slovakia).

  276.  

    Conor in York on text: "Spain have missed one thing only this competition and that is a striker. Spain have been distinctly unimpressive this tournament and only showed their potency when Torres started. Italy will therefore lose this as penance to the footballing gods for spawning Mario Balotelli."

    Rob, also from York, on text: "To everyone saying Spain need David Villa: think of the World Cup. He was in and they scored even fewer goals. Spain show how much Messi adds to Barca's attacking threat."

  277. 1553:  

    Spain, of course, are the holders of the Henri Delauney trophy following their triumph in 2008. It was this win that capped stage one of their ascent to being the world's best side. From the 2012 squad, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Fernando Torres all started the final, with the latter scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over Germany. In addition, Xabi Alonso and Santi Cazorla came on as substitutes. All of these can make history themselves tonight by becoming the first players to win two European Championships.

  278. 1547:  

    "If Spain beat Italy in the final of Euro 2012 then they are going to be the team of the century." Not my words, but the words of former Germany player and manager Jurgen Klinsmann.

    You can read more of Jurgen's thoughts about Spain and his own national side, following the disappointment of their semi-final loss to Italy, on this site.

  279.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Sean King on Twitter: "Spain boring? It's more boring listening or reading other people moaning about Spain being boring! Three successive finals says it all."

    Luke on Twitter: "As Wenger said Spain now pass to prevent conceding, it is boring compared to their attacking football of the past"

    Mashidur Miah on Twitter: "Excited about the midfield battle between Pirlo and Xavi. Can't seperate them but just feel Pirlo will work his magic again."

  280. 1540:  

    As I've already mentioned, Spain can make history tonight with a third successive tournament triumph. What does their midfielder Xavi think their chances of achieving this are?

    "We have achieved great things with the national team," said Xavi. "We're in a great generation of players and we have a great opportunity to make history. This is our chance."

    Pretty great then.

  281. 1535:  

    So what can we glean from the first meeting between these two to help us pick a winner tonight? Well, not much is the answer. The 1-1 draw between them on Sunday 10 June in Gdansk was a pretty tight affair. Spain began as favourites (as they will do again this evening), but they were matched stride for stride by the Italians, who were typically solid at the back but surprisngly slick in attack. Spain had the majority of possession, which is pretty much par for the course, but Italy fashioned as many clear-cut chances, if not more. It took a Cesc Fabregas equaliser in the 64th minute to salvage the holders a draw following Antonio Di Natale's opener.

  282. 1529:  

    Tonight sees the fourth time that teams who have already met during a European Championships have then gone on to contest the final.

    In 1988 the Netherlands began their campaign with a 1-0 loss to the USSR but later beat the same opponents 2-0 to take the trophy. Eight years later, Germany beat the Czech Republic 2-0 in the group stage and 2-1 in the final. Finally, in 2004, Greece were 2-1 winners against Portugal on the opening day and 1-0 victors in the final.

  283.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Damian Maruszewski on Twitter: "Can't wait for the ‪Euro 2012‬ final tonight..."

    Wancarlos on Twitter: "Spain are boring when they don't play out-and-out strikers. They miss David Villa badly."

    Rosie Dodds on Twitter: "Spain‬ being written off for tonight's big prize. Why?"

  284. 1526:  

    Spain - good or dull? Discuss.

    As our chief football writer Phil McNulty says at the start of his latest blog, it is the question that has been hanging over Euro 2012: does winning make Spain boring?

    You can read Phil's conclusions on this very site. Here is a small snippet: "Spain are now football's tall poppy that plenty want to cut down. This explains why this developing Italy side have the support of many neutrals who simply fancy a change to what has become the established order."

  285.   
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer in Kiev

    "First sounds on thumping music emerge from Kiev's Olympic Stadium in preparation for tonight's Euro 2012 Final. Baking hot day."

  286. 1522:  

    Across the canvas to the Italians, in the red corner, is Spain. You may have read one or two superlatives about them. They can make history today by becoming the first European side to win three successive major international tournaments and in the process achieving another first by retaining the Henri Delaunay trophy. Who needs omens when you're that good?

  287. 1520:  

    If Italy needed any more good omens, then how about this...

    The Azzurri's exit to Slovakia at the 2010 World Cup was, Italian newspapers agreed, their biggest humiliation since losing to North Korea at the 1966 tournament. In 1968 they won the European Championships.

  288. 1515:  

    In 2006, Italy came into a major tournament with the shadow of a match-fixing crisis hanging over them and pretty much written off as challengers. They ended up winning it. Six years later and here we are again, with the unfancied Azzurri charging their way to the final of another competition with domestic match-fixing whispers trailing in their wake. Good omens for the Italians or what?

  289. 1510:  

    Like Frodo and Sam, we've been on a long, old journey together. From Robert Lewandowski's opening goal to Mesut Ozil's vain attempt to salvage something for the Germans, we've seen plenty of Euros thrills and spills. Just another 90 minutes (at least) to go before we reach our destination and put another major tournament to bed. So how do you see it ending? Will this be Mario's moment or Xavi's zenith? And having seen the goods on display over the last 30 days, which player would you like your club to snap up? You can tweet us using the hashtag #bbcfootball or text us on 81111 (UK). Make sure you put your name on the texts.

  290. 1505:  

    Most people's pre-tournament predictions as to who would contest the Euro 2012 final have proven 50% correct.

    Euro holders, World champions and widely recognised uber-unit Spain were top of many's tips for the tournament. Controversy-hampered Italy were not. However, the Azzurri have earned their spurs and a shot at the top dog with a series of displays veering from the solid to the sublime. Spain have been, well, Spain.

    While this might not be the final many foresaw, it has all the elements to provide the quality everyone hoped for.

  291. 1500:  

    So here we are, the big finale. 30 days ago, Euro 2012 started and 30 games, 72 goals, three red cards and two penalty shoot-outs later it all comes down to a showdown in Kiev between two sides coming full circle in the tournament.

    Spain and Italy started their Euro finals campaign with an encounter and they will end it with another. Their first clash had three points at stake, their second is for the Henri Delaunay trophy.

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