Balotelli Comes of Age in Euro

AP Photo

n the days leading up to the Euro 2012 final Sunday, many reasons will be given as to why Italy has defied odds and opinions to survive while 14 other nations have fallen.

Some will state that the squad united as one following the ongoing match-fixing scandal engulfing Italian soccer, much like it did when winning the 2006 World Cup in the midst of a widespread corruption crisis.

Others will cite defensive efficiency, a trait seen so often in Italian teams of the past yet thought to be missing this time around, at least until the inspired effort that shut down the feared Germany attacking machine for most of Thursday's 2-1 semifinal victory.

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History at Stake in Euro 2012 Final

June 28, 2012

1. Three is the magic number. Spain has already equaled the achievement of West Germany, which was the 1972 and 1974 European and world champions before falling just short in the 1976 European Championship, losing on penalties... more »