May 19, 2013
Fabregas and Ramos unfazed by Balotelli or record
The threat of Italy striker Mario Balotelli and the propsect of an unprecedented treble occupied Spain's Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Ramos before Sunday's Euro 2012 final but neither thought those obstacles too big to overcome.
Spain face the Italians at the Olympic Stadium bidding to become the first national side to win three successive major honours following their triumphs at Euro 2008 and the World Cup in Spain two years ago.
Balotelli, who scored both goals in Italy's 2-1 win over Germany in Thursday's semi-final in Warsaw, is at last on top form and joint leading scorer in the tournament with three goals. He must be stopped if Spain are to retain their title.
Barcelona's Fabregas, when at Arsenal, played against Manchester City striker Balotelli in the Premier League the season before last, and knows better than most members of the Spanish squad what his qualities are.
"I think he is a great football player. He showed that yesterday," said Fabregas.
"He had two fantastic moments and scored two great goals. One a true center-forward's header and the other one from a real cracking shot from outside the area in a European Championship semi-final against a top team like Germany.
"This tells you everything. I really liked they way he played and he will be, of course, a threat as well as (Antonio) Cassano or any other forward who plays with Italy.
"They are always very dangerous, but we have the players to stop them. We have defended well. We have to neutralise their attack and midfield where (Andrea) Pirlo is the player, otherwise he will take control of the match.
Fabregas has already scored against Italy in this tournament, netting the equaliser in a 1-1 draw in their opening group game, while Ramos has played every minute of this campaign.