Where will the Euro 2012 final be won and lost?

Spain defender Sergio Ramos tackles Mario Balotelli.
Spain defender Sergio Ramos tackles Mario Balotelli. Photo: PA

SERGIO RAMOS v MARIO BALOTELLI

With Carles Puyol ruled out by injury, Ramos has cemented his place as Gerard Pique's partner at the heart of Spain's defence. His replica of Andre Pirlo's penalty in the semi-final shootout win over Portugal demonstrated his confidence. Balotelli appears to be maturing before our very eyes at Euro 2012. His form and attitude were questioned in Italy's first two games but he has been almost unplayable since scoring as a substitute against Republic of Ireland.

Video player: Mario Balotelli volleys home against Ireland.

XAVI v ANDREA PIRLO

A mouthwatering showdown between two of the best passers ever to grace the game. Xavi's status as an all-time great has already been assured but he has yet to hit the heights in Poland and Ukraine and will be desperate to do so on Sunday. Pirlo has been peerless for Italy and almost has the Player of the Tournament award wrapped up ahead of the final.

ANDRES INIESTA v FEDERICO BALZARETTI

If Spain decide not to play a striker, their midfield will have to fill the void and no-one is more capable of doing so than Iniesta, whose goal settled the 2010 World Cup. The 28-year-old also likes to drift out wide, where he will doubtless come up against Balzaretti. The Juventus defender has excelled going forward at both left-back and right-back at Euro 2012.