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?
What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?
In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.
Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."
It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.
And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.
"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?
The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.
Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.
If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.
"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."
That makes one of us.
The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.
Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.
He later made the announcement on Twitter.
Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.
Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.
"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."
Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.