AWARDS SHOW: Iniesta is Best Player of Euro 2012

FOOTBALL – Andrés Iniesta has been named Best Player of Euro 2012 by UEFA. The mercurial Spanish midfielder was also one of only two players (Italy’s Andrea Pirlo being the other) in the tournament to pick up three Man of the Match awards – in both matches against Italy and in the encounter with Croatia. Iniesta takes over from teammate Xavi, who scooped up these honours at Euro 2008.

REVIEW – Spain v Italy 4-0

FOOTBALL – On Sunday, 1 July, Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 Final and became the first team to retain the European Championship title.

Spain 4-0 Italy

> Spain have joined (West) Germany as the only country to win the ECh three times and are the first to retain the title.

> Spain recorded the first ever win by a four-goal margin in a ECh or World Cup final. 

> The only team other to score 3+ goals in a ECh final was West Germany vs Soviet Union in 1972 (3-0).

> This is only the sixth time a team scored 4+ goals in a ECh or World Cup final: Uruguay (4, 1930), Italy (4, 1938), Brazil (5, 1958), England (4, 1966) and Brazil (4, 1970).

> Spain are unbeaten in their last 12 Euro final matches (9-3-0), a competition record.

> Spain have not conceded a goal in their last five ECh matches, a new competition record.

> Spain have kept a clean sheet in their last 10 knockout matches at a ECh or WC. Iker Casillas has therefore not conceded a goal in Euro or World Cup KO stages for an unprecedented 990 minutes.

> Spain have won their last 62 matches in which they scored the opening goal. The last time they lost when taking a 1-0 lead was in a 3-2 defeat at Northern Ireland in September 2006.

> Vicente Del Bosque became the 2nd coach to win a ECh and a World Cup title, joining Helmut Schön (Euro 1972, 1974 World Cup).

> Fernando Torres joined Mario Balotelli, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Dzagoev, Mario Gomez and Mario Mandžukic on three goals at Euro 2012. The only ECh with more players with at least three goals was Euro 2004 (8).

> Torres has played the fewest minutes of all players with three goals at Euro 2012 (190).

> David Silva has been directly involved in five goals at Euro 2012 (2 goals, 3 assists), more than any other player this tournament.

> The only other player before David Silva to score in a ECh final while representing a club from the Premier League was Fernando Torres (Liverpool) in 2008.

> Xavi is the 1st player to have an assist in 2 different ECh finals. He also assisted on the Fernando Torres goal in the Euro 2008 final. 

> Xavi also has the record for most assists in a ECh final (3). Rainer Bonhof had two assists for Germany in the 1976 final.

> Iker Casillas has won 100 of his 137 international matches, becoming the first player ever to reach a century of international wins. He also holds the world record with 79 clean sheets

> Busquets, Pedro and Piqué joined an elite group of players that have won the European Championship, FIFA World Cup, Champions Cup/Champions League and Intercontinental Cup/FIFA Club World Cup in their career. This group now contains 19 players.

> Pedro, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Juan Mata, Jesus Navas, Fernando Llorente, Víctor Valdés and Javi Martínez joined the list of players (23 GER, 23 ESP, 18 FRA, 1 ITA) that have won a ECh and a World Cup title. Spanish totals include tonight’s match.

> Casillas, Ramos, Torres, Fábregas, Iniesta, Silva, Xavi and Alonso joined a group of 13 players that have featured in two ECh finals.

> Fernando Torres and Juan Mata became the sixth and seventh players to feature in and win a Champions Cup/Champions League final and a European Championship final in the same year. The others are Luis Suárez (Internazionale and Spain in 1964) and Hans van Breukelen, Berry van Aerle, Ronald Koeman and Gerald Vanenburg (PSV and Netherlands in 1988).

> Six players from FC Barcelona were in the Spanish starting line-up. This was not a record, as there were seven Dynamo Kiev players representing the Soviet Union in the 1988 final.

> This was the second World Cup or ECh final in which both teams were captained by a goalkeeper. The other one was the 1934 World Cup final between Italy (Giampiero Combi) and Czechoslovakia (Franta Plánicka).

> Buffon and Cassano played their 13th ECh match tonight, equalling the Italian record by Alessandro Del Piero and Paolo Maldini.

> Buffon played his 25th ECh/World Cup match, most by an Italian goalkeeper (Dino Zoff 24). Only Paolo Maldini (36) and Fabio Cannavaro (26) have played more.

> Cassano has now been substituted eight times at European Championships after beginning in the starting line-up, breaking the tournament record he shared with Dennis Bergkamp and Mario Gomez.

PREVIEW: Spain and Italy meet again at Euro 2012

FOOTBALL – Spain and Italy are back to where Euro 2012 started for them. These countries met in the group stage, where they drew 1-1. This is fifth occasion in history of Euros, on which the same two teams have played each other the in group stage and also in the knockout stage.

The other repeats are Soviet Union – Netherlands (1988), Germany – Czech Republic (1996), Greece – Portugal (2004) and Russia – Spain (2008).

The competition in Ukraine and Poland is the 14th European Championship featuring the 13th different final fixture. The only repeated final at the Euros is Germany – Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia (1976, 1996). Twelve countries have already played in Euro finals, Germany tops them all with six appearances.

At the FIFA World Cup two fixtures were repeated in finals. Germany and Argentina played in two consecutive World Cup finals (1986, 1990), the other pairing being Brazil – Italy (1970, 1994).

France and Italy is the only pair to have played in a World Cup final and a European Championship final. France won at Euro 2000 and Italy at World cup 2006.

Analysis by Slavko Jeric (@lavkeri), a regular contributor to this website.

PREVIEW: Torres tries to tally in another Euro final

FOOTBALL – Fernando Torres is hoping to become the first player to score in more than one European Championship Final. He can also join three German players that have all scored two goals in a ECh final, however they all scored three goals in the same final. They are Gerd Müller (1972), Horst Hrubesch (1980) and Oliver Bierhoff (1996).

PREVIEW: Final – Spain v Italy

 FOOTBALL – On Sunday, 1 July, Spain and Italy will meet in the Euro 2012 final at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium. It is the 31st and final match of Euro 2012 and we have assembled some key facts and figures on this match.

Italy have never lost to Spain at a ECh or World Cup (3W-4D-0L) in regulation or extra time, although they went out on penalties against Spain in the Euro 2008 quarterfinal. Current Italy squad members Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale had their spot kick saved by Iker Casillas.

This is the fourth time two teams played their opening match and the final against each other at the European Championship, namely Netherlands vs Soviet Union in 1988, Germany vs Czech Republic in 1996 and Greece vs Portugal at 2004. At Euro 2008, Spain and Russia also met twice, but that was in a group game and in the semifinal.

Spain are only the second side to reach three successive finals at European Championships and World Cups. This was previously only achieved by (West) Germany, who won the finals at Euro 1972 and the 1974 World Cup and finished runners-up at Euro 1976.

Only three reigning world champions had previously reached the final of a European Championship: West Germany in 1976, Germany in 1992 and France in 2000. Only the latter went on to win the final. No team has ever retained the ECh title.

Spain have lost just two of their last 50 competitive matches (44-4-2). Their only defeats in that span were on South African soil, vs USA (0-2) at the 2009 Confederations Cup semi-final and vs Switzerland (0-1) in a 2010 FIFA World Cup group match.

Twelve Spanish players were also part of the Euro 2008 team that won the title. They can join West Germany’s Rainer Bonhof who is the only player to win two ECh titles (1972, 1980), although he did not play in either competition. All 12 Spaniards featured in 2008.

Italy are unbeaten in 15 competitive matches under Cesare Prandelli (10W-5D-0L), keeping 10 clean sheets (including awarded match vs Serbia in Euro 2012 qualifying).

Mario Balotelli has become the first Italian player to score three goals in a single ECh tournament and is Italy’s joint top scorer at European Championship tournaments together with Antonio Cassano.

> Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli have remained from Italy’s successful 2006 World Cup campaign. Pedro, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Busquets can also join the list of 57 players (23 GER, 18 FRA, 15 ESP, 1 ITA) that won a ECh and a World Cup title.

PREVIEW: Italy aiming for sixth major prize

FOOTBALL – Italy are aiming for their second European Championship title and their sixth crown in European Championships and World Cups. If the Azzurri succeed, they will equal the continental record by Germany, formerly West Germany. Spain are bidding to win their fourth trophy at EChs and WCs.

Major championships (ECh and WC) won per European nation

6 – (West) Germany – WC 54, ECh 72, WC 74, ECh 80, WC 90, ECh 96

5 – Italy – WC 34, WC 38, ECh 68, WC 82, WC 06

3 – France – ECh 84, WC 98, ECh 00

3 – Spain – ECh 64, ECh 08, WC 10

1 – Soviet Union – ECh 60

1 – England – WC 66

1 – Czechoslovakia – ECh 76

1 – Netherlands – ECh 88

1 – Denmark – ECh 92

1 – Greece – ECh 2004

REVIEW – Germany v Italy 1-2

FOOTBALL – On Thursday, 28 June, Italy beat Germany in their semifinal encounter at Euro 2012. They will face Spain in the final on Sunday. 

Germany – Italy 1-2

> Italy reached the final and will face Spain for the second time this tournament. It happened three times before that two teams played their opening match and the final against each other at the European Championship, namely Netherlands vs Soviet Union in 1988, Czech Republic and Germany in 1996 and Greece vs Portugal at 2004.  

> Italy will play their third ECh final. They won against Yugoslavia in 1968 (they won the replay 2-0 after a 1-1 draw in the first match) and lost against France in 2000 (2-1).

> Italy stayed unbeaten in 8 competitive encounters against Germany (5 WC & 3 ECh): 4 wins and 4 draws. 

> Italy are qualified for the Confederations Cup next year, because Spain was already qualified as World Champion.

> Germany lost their first competitive match since the semifinal against Spain in the 2010 World Cup. Between these two matches, they stayed unbeaten in 15 competitive matches.

> Germany scored 10 goals at Euro 2012, equaling their tournament record set in 1996 and 2008.

> Germany scored at least once in each of their last 21 encounters (includes all matches), still the longest active streak of all countries.

> Miroslav Klose sets the record as player with the most semifinals in major tournaments (ECh & WC): 5.

> Mario Balotelli became the first Italian player to score three goals in a single ECh tournament.

> Balotelli scored his third and fourth goal for Italy and scored all his goals on Polish soil.

> Balotelli became the 9th different player to score at least two goals in a single match at Euro 2012, equaling the record from Euro 2000.

> Mesut Özil was the 8th player to score for Germany at Euro 2012, a new tournament record. The previous record was 7 different players held by: Netherlands (2008), Spain (2008), Portugal (2008), France (2000), Italy (2000) and Czech Republic (1996).

> Antonio Cassano was substituted for the 7th time at the ECh after beginning in the starting line-up, equalling Dennis Bergkamp’s tournament record.

> Gianluigi Buffon became the player that played the most minutes for Italy at the ECh (1140), surpassing Paolo Maldini (1095).

> Joachim Löw coached his 11th ECh match, equaling the competition record of Berti Vogts. 

> Philipp Lahm played his 14th ECh match, more than any other German player.