Spain v. Italy Euro 2012 Final Open Thread

Spain v. Italy Euro 2012 Final Open Thread

Defending European and World Cup champions Spain seek to win their third major trophy in a row today when they face Italy in the finals of Euro 2012 (2:45PM/ESPN). It's no surprise that Spain has progressed to the final, although they have certainly lacked a bit of bite in the run up to today's match. This was never more clear than in their semifinal win over Portugal in penalties.

Italy, who entering the tournament was faced with yet another scandal, this time a match-fixing one, has done what Italy does and has simply found ways to win games. They defeated a well-rested and favored German team 2-1 in the semifinals to take their place in today's final.

There will be an embarrassment of passing riches on the field as the game will feature three of best string-pullers in the world. The Barcelona duo of Xavi and Iniesta control nearly every movement by La Roja. The ageless Andrea Pirlo, for whom I have an unabashed man-crush on, runs the show for the Azzurri. It never ceases to amaze how these three diminutive playmakers completely control a game.

Not to be overlooked, this game will also showcase two of best goalkeepers in the world in Iker Casillas and Gigi Buffon.

Recently there's been a backlash to the style in which Spain plays. They've gone from being celebrated for their tiki-taka style to admonished for retaining possession with their lateral play. Say what you will about their style, but you cannot question the results.

However, Italy is always adept at absorbing pressure. They also have the horses up front in Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano to punish Spain on the counter. It remains to be seen whether Italy can get enough bodies behind the ball defensively and not completely cede control to the Spanish.

The match kicks off at 2:45. Who do you like? Forza Azzurri or La Furia Roja?

Nerlens Noel on Sixers' frontcourt logjam: 'I don't see a way it can work'

Nerlens Noel on Sixers' frontcourt logjam: 'I don't see a way it can work'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Nerlens Noel is standing his ground.

After saying that the Sixers' entering the season with three starting-caliber centers (himself, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid) "doesn't make sense," Noel didn't back down from his stance during the team's annual media day.  

"I don't see a way it can work," Noel said Monday. "It's just a logjam. You have three young, talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night." 

The Sixers attempted to play with two bigs in Noel and Okafor last season but had little success. Now that Embiid is finally healthy, the fit to the puzzle doesn't figure to get any better.

Reports swirled during the offseason that the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor to add backcourt help to the woeful franchise, but nothing came to fruition.

"Things need to get situated," Noel said. "I think things obviously need to be moved around, someone needs to be moved around. It's just a tough situation. I can't really say too much because I have no say in the matter, so obviously that's for who can handle the situation in the right manner.

"I've gone through a whole lot. Probably the most, arguably, that any player has gone through in the NBA in losing. It's a tough situation to still be in. Year by year, to see things get more difficult to show your value. Year by year, it's always been something. It's really at a point where it's just a lot."

Bryan Colangelo said he understands Noel's viewpoint. However, the Sixers' president said he is in no rush to trade any of the centers and will wait the situation out.

"It’s not disappointing. It’s understandable," Colangelo said. "I think Nerlens actually did a pretty good job sizing up what we have, which is a lot of depth and a lot of talent at that position."

Despite each of the three centers being early in their career, Noel, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't want to hold off to see if the trio can actually mesh on the floor.

"I can't say I do really understand that (wait-and-see approach)," Noel said. "If you have a group of players, I just don't think it makes too much sense to just still come into the season with such a heavy lineup at the center position. I don't know what there is to wait and see."

Noel made sure to express that he has no issues with Okafor and Embiid and said they are some of his closest friends on the team. But when asked whether he was happy to be a Sixer, Noel deflected.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm all right, I'm in a good place right now."

Sure sounds like it.

Darren Sproles' TD from Wentz set to Sonic the Hedgehog music

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Darren Sproles' TD from Wentz set to Sonic the Hedgehog music

You may fondly remember the time Darren Sproles took a punt return to the house last season and a wonderful Twitter user set the video to the Super Mario Bros.' star music, yes?

It was great.

Now that Sproles' put on the jets again yesterday in the Eagles win over the Steelers, the same @pacdude on Twitter has done it again.

This time it's the theme music from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Please enjoy.