Spain vs Italy: All about possession, passing and pressing

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Spain vs Italy: The midfield battle
Apart from the thrills, joy and misery witnessed at the UEFA Euro 2012, the continents biggest teams have learnt the art of holding possession especially in midfield. Similar tactics and techniques will be followed on Sunday when Italy take on defending champions Spain at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

Euro 2012 Final: Spain vs Italy Preview

No other team in the world can be compared to the Spaniards, who are tipped favourites to retain the title, when it comes to passing ability, holding possession and retaining the ball. But the Italians, known for their patience, are the only side to match Spain's dominance in terms of possession.

Both teams clashed during their Group C opener which ended in 1-1 draw. Vicente Del Bosque's men were uncomfortable with the ball as the Italian midfield was flooded with five players trying to break Spain's fluidity.

After a cagey opening 45 minutes, Italy broke the deadlock with substitute Antonio Di Natale's cool finish across Iker Casillas. But the lead lasted only for a few minutes as Spain's false No. 9 Cesc Fabregas equalised.

Both coaches opted for a different line-up, formation and tactics. Their main agenda was to keep possession and retain the ball as quickly as possible. The Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli tried to cramp and squeeze the Spanish midfield while Del Bosque's option of including a false nine helped Spain to have the lion's share of the ball.

But it all ended with a crowded midfield, both teams ended up fighting to retain possession and hardly found space to create the 'magic' pass. It remained the same until Spain equalised. The La Roja, with momentum on their side, sprung into action to test the Italian back-line. But even though with just three at the back, Prandelli's men survived waves of Spanish attack.

However, the big question remains whether both teams will opt similar tactics on Sunday. The Italians chose to back to basics against other teams while the Spaniards stuck to their false nine tactics with a rare strikers appearance whenever needed.

In their recent major tournament meeting, Spain eliminated Italy in a penalty shoot-out at the Euro 2008 semi-final. A draw is likely to be the result yet again but both teams will have no intention to decide the game entirely on luck.

In terms of attacking options, Spain have an entire squad on the bench capable of competing against any side while Italy have experience and ability to down even the 'favourites' (Germany).

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