Spain Vs. Italy, Euro 2012 Final: Who Gained More From First Meeting?

Italy didn't gain any new information from Spain when the two teams met in Group C at Euro 2012, but that doesn't necessarily mean Spain gained anything positive either. In fact, they might have picked up some misinformation about their opponents, while Italy learned a lot about their own players.

Spain have rotated their forwards during this tournament, using three very different players at center forward, but their other 10 starters have remained the same. None of those starters was a surprise against Italy. Cesare Prandelli might not know what he's going to see up top from Spain, but he knows what he's going to see everywhere else on the pitch. It's the exact same team that they played in their Group C match, which was the team he and everyone else expected.

Prandelli's team was a different story. He played a strongly rumored, but still slightly surprising, 3-5-2 that featured defensive midfielder Daniele De Rossi as a sweeper, attacking midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini as a left wingback, and the surprisingly 100 percent fit Antonio Cassano as a second striker. Since then, he's shifted away from that formation, while also making changes at both fullback positions.

Vicente del Bosque probably has a good idea of what Prandelli's going to do with his team on Sunday, but the fact is, he doesn't know. He doesn't know for sure if he's going to see three or four at the back. He doesn't know who is going to play right back, or if Thiago Motta is going to play as a hard-working midfield annoyance, or who's going to start in defense.

From that Group C match, Italy gained the ability to hit Spain with something they don't see coming, while also learning that Federico Balzaretti and Ignazio Abate are better fullback options than Giaccherini and Christian Maggio. And Spain learned ... nothing. They knew that Jordi Alba was the answer at left back, that Alvaro Arbeloa is an average right back, and that Cesc Fabregas provides serious strengths and drawbacks as a center forward. None of this was new information.

Italy does not have the same kind of attacking and midfield talent at their disposal as Spain, but they can create an advantage for themselves from the start on Sunday for two reasons. They've learned who their best players are when they didn't know for sure coming into the tournament, and they could potentially use tactics that del Bosque hasn't planned for. Spain may be better than Italy, but they're also predictable.

We'll have features, news updates and live coverage of the match in our Spain vs. Italy, Euro 2012 StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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