Home Nation Heroes

Okay, so they're not the home nation. But Italy have lived in Krakow for the duration of the 2012 European football championships, and after Poland's woeful last-match flop against the Czech Republic, they're the closest we have to a 'local' team right now. They pulled something quite remarkable out of the bag in Thursday's semi-final against Germany in Warsaw. Having scraped through on a penalty shoot-out against a lacklustre England side, the Italians really turned on the style at the National Stadium to give the Germans what must have been a huge surprise. Mario Balotelli was the man who delivered the trouncing, scoring twice in the first half to give Italy a two-goal lead. Germany came back with a goal from the spot after Federico Balzaretti handled the ball in the penalty area and Mesut Ozil beat Gianluigi Buffon to give the hot favourites a dash of hope... but it was never going to be enough and Italy held on for 2-1. Having said that, the Azzurri don't have a great record in this competition. Although they are four times world champions, they've only ever won the European title once - albeit at their first attempt, in 1968. They will face Spain in the final on Sunday evening, kick-off 8.45pm.


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