The big day is upon us. For someone who is used to playing "long form" fantasy games where you are picking the best players from approximately 20 teams worth of players most weeks, coming up with 11 (plus a bench) from two teams is sort of difficult. It also doesn't leave a ton to write about. Given the number of available free transfers, the budget constraint, and the limited number of players overall there aren't many real choices to make. The only saving grace for me is that, despite the massive pre-tournament difference in reputation, the two sides are fairly evenly matched. Their group stage draw (featuring the only goal Spain has conceded thus far) further backs up that point.
Spain play defense by possessing the ball but, unlike their 2010 World Cup and 2008 Euro Cup championship editions, they lack the cutting edge that has been provided by David Villa in the past. Italy, for their part, aren't as talented all around but with a typically solid defending group, the vampire that is Buffon, the remarkable Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli they seem to have the one ingredient that Spain lacks. That ingredient is Balotelli. He is the one player in the match who can win the match on his own as he showed against the Germans.
Here in the US, ESPN has been doing an intro to their broadcasts that features billboards commemorating past Euro championships and featured on each of the signposts representing the tournaments is the outstanding player most associated with that tournament. Maybe I'm falling too much for media-driven storylines but it feels like this will forever be remembered as the Balotelli tournament. For that reason, he's my captain. He's the one guy who you feel like could do something really outstanding.
Who are you betting on? In the match? For your fantasy team?
We'll be back here for the match if you're interested in joining us for a chat.