Euro 2012: Italy seeks to end Spain's domination
Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo (left) and Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta. Italy and the defending champions Spain will play the Euro 2012 football championships final at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on July 1, 2012. / DAMIEN MEYER,AFP-Getty Images/GABRIEL BOUYS
(AP) KIEV, Ukraine - Italy is happy to play the underdog role for the last time at the European Championship.
Having proved wrong the pre-match predictions of a defeat by Germany in the semifinals, the Azzurri believe they can do the same in Sunday's final against defending champion Spain.
But as captain Gianluigi Buffon pointed out Saturday, Italy does "have a problem tomorrow - because we're facing a squad that has shown its superiority.
"Luckily it starts at 0-0," Buffon added. "Spain is the favorite, because they've dominated for four years and they've got great champions. Italy is the surprise, and we hope to surprise right down to the end."
Meanwhile, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli revealed that he won't use the three-man defense he employed in the 1-1 draw with Spain that opened Group C. Instead, he'll use the traditional four-man backline that has conceded only one goal - and a consolation penalty kick at that, in the 2-1 win over Germany - in Italy's last three matches.
"Over the last few matches we've maintained our balance," Prandelli said. "Although (the three-man defense) could be an option to change to during the match."
Balance will be a priority against a lineup that contains so many leading Barcelona and Real Madrid players that Buffon couldn't single out one individual that Italy must contain.
"Spain has so many champions, starting with their goalkeeper and moving on to their defense, their midfield and their strikers, that choosing one would represent a lack of respect for all the others," Buffon said. "This is a squad that has dominated world football for six glorious years."
In fact, Spain is attempting to become the first nation to win three consecutive major tournaments, following its Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup victory. It could also become the first team to successfully defend its European title.
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