|© AP Photo/Andres Kudacki
Fernando Alonso is looking forward to the final of the football Euro 2012 on Sunday as two national sides that the Spaniard is affiliated to face off for the trophy.
Spain and Italy will meet in Kiev's Olympic Stadium, three weeks after they drew their opening match of the tournament's group stage, although the double world champion made no secrets whom he was supporting in the final.
“What a Sunday in prospect! We got underway with Spain-Italy while we were in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix and now we are back again, three weeks later for a rematch, this time in the final," Alonso said on the Ferrari website. "For the past 13 years, I have spent more time in Italy than in Spain and for the past three, I’ve been with a team that represents Italy around the world, so I cannot ask for a nicer end to Euro 2012. On Wednesday night I suffered right to the final penalty for my Spain and on Thursday I was overjoyed at the well-deserved win for the Azzurri!
“I am happy for all my Italian friends: no one fancied Italy as finalists before the tournament and yet, here they are. They never gave up and always believed in their abilities, proving they are at the level of the best.
“It’s a bit like our Ferrari this year: we got off to a bad start, we came in for quite a bit of criticism with everyone saying we were done for and yet things have changed, haven’t they?" the double world champion said referring to the fortunes of the Italian Formula 1 team this season.
"The difference is that for us at Ferrari we still have a lifetime to go, another 12 races before the end of the championship, whereas Spain and Italy are just 90 or maybe 120 minutes away from the title being decided!
“It will be tough on Sunday, because Italy are strong: they were in that first game and they will be even more so on Sunday night, as they have come on a lot. The key players? That’s easy, (Andres) Iniesta and (Iker) Casillas for us, (Andrea) Pirlo and (Gianluigi) Buffon for them. Then there could be surprises from (Mario) Balotelli for example…
“For we Spaniards, although actually, the same goes for the Italians, it would be fantastic to win," he added. "It would be something incredible, as winning the European championship, the World Cup and then the European again would be an amazing cycle. And it would also give everyone something to smile about at what is a difficult time right now in our country.
"As I said, the same goes for Italy. The two nations that are in the eye of a storm, that are in serious economic difficulties are the best in Europe at least at football. Funny isn’t it? A nice return match!”