Morning. Hello. I've spent the last four days Doing Tennis, and apparently there's been a football tournament going on. I thought that ended last Sunday after England's heroic draw with Italy? No? They carried on regardless? That bloody Platini. So, having seen the square root of bugger all this week, what have I missed? Will this be Cristiano Ronaldo's tournament? Or will Germany finally make good on their potential? All those questions, and more, answered right here in your live and exclusive and live rolling Euro 2012 live and exclusive live blog!
Mario Balotelli did what?!
Mario Balotelli has said his goals in Italy's win over Germany last night was for his mum. Mummy's boy.
After the game, when I went to my mum I said 'these goals are for you'. I waited for this moment for so long and I wanted to make my mum happy. Tonight was the most beautiful of my life - but I hope that this Sunday is even better. With Spain we are the two best teams in the tournament. Can we win? I'll tell you on Sunday. In the final I hope to make it four. I will try to score another goal but in football you can do that a lot and still never score. Sometimes you need a bit of luck."
And Cesare Prandelli has had this to say about Balotelli. Balotelli's efforts earned the praise of Italy manager Cesare Prandelli. "He was excellent, like the entire team," said Prandelli. "I really believe that a team needs to have an idea of the way they play, and he really subscribed to this playing style. He ran into space high up the pitch, was always available, and put in a very good performance this evening."
Italy are just cooller than Spain, aren't they? Balotelli, Cassano, Diamanti, Buffon, Pirlo. They've got every base covered. Forza Italia!
"You're not wrong about the Italians being supercool," says Simon McMahon. "My favourite moment of the tournament so far was the look on Pirlo's face a split second after his penalty against England as he realised that he had hit it perfectly and that Hart was on his way down, arms and legs flailing. Just the faintest hint of a smile. Nothing more. Coglioni, I think the Italians call it."
And that's all from me. Back to the tennis. Please be upstanding for Simon Burnton.
Hello world! Simon Burnton here for the next few hours, looking forward to, um, something happening.
Twitter-based football news! Yossi Benayoun tweets: "Good morning and have a nice day everyone"
He also says: "My loan spell with Arsenal will be officially over tomorrow. I want to say again a big thanks to the fans and the club for the opportunity and the great support and I wish this club all the very best!" Sorry. It's the only news I've got.
Euro 2012 newspaper review. It's amazing what Italian newspapers get away with – not just voicing the questionable idea that Mario Balotelli "made Germany black", but inviting Angela Merkel to do one and calling her a lard-arse, all of which happened on today's various front pages.A couple of Guardian links for you: here's my
Euro 2012 news! Portugal's Pedro Proenca will referee the final in Kiev on Sunday. Proenca, 41, took charge of last month's Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea.
Highlights of Franz Beckenbauer's column in today's Bild: "The first-half performance was a mystery to me after we performed so confidently in the four games beforehand. The first 45 minutes were deeply disappointing. That was not the true German team. They seemed completely lifeless ... I think we have too much respect [for Italy]. The talk about the curse of Italy seemed to paralyse the players."
Rob Conway has penned a song for Mario Balotelli. It is to the tune of Enya's Orinoco Flow. Before this email arrived I had no idea that anyone have even thought about Enya's Orinico Flow, let alone sung it, for at least 15 years. My mistake. Anyway, the lyrics:
From Milan to Japan, We are on the Mario Flow,
Ballatelli's on the Telly and he's gonna score a goal,
Oh Mario Mario Mario! Oh Olay, Olay, Olay!"
Repeat until punched
here. NB you actually have to be in Leeds to see it.There's a play on about Leeds United! Read the Guardian's review
Cesare Prandelli has been discussing his future: "I've said before, I've got a great relationship with the Italian Football Federation and I love the shirt. I do miss the everyday aspect of club football, of course, but that's as far as it goes. Listen, I've had my phone on and I've not had a call."
More from Prandelli: "I open my eyes but I'm still dreaming. There's great satisfaction here because everyone has put so much work into this. But Spain will go into the game as favourites. They've been working on this for many years and have dominated every single contest. They are a brilliant side."
Cesc Fábregas has been speaking this morning. "They have a very competitive team, they're very experienced at the back and the front. They have a lot of variety as well, playing up front, and they have some special players like Pirlo and Marchisio. I think the winner of this game will be the real champion and it will be well deserved, because we have been the most consistent teams in the tournament."
OK, let's talk about Enya. Better than nothing. "Interestingly (or perhaps ''interestingly'') Orinoco Flow was used in the climatic scene of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Fincher version)," writes Ryan Dunne, "after Daniel Craig appparently suggested it would be perfect music for the kinky serial killer Stellan Skarsgard was playing!" Wikipedia also informs me that it was heard in Shrek Forever After.
The German FA have passed judgement on Joachim Löw's management after the defeat to Italy last night. Löw's decision-making has been heavily criticised, after some of his team changes for last night's game did not come off. The good news is, his job seems pretty safe. "You have done a superb job and we are extremely happy to have you as our coach," says Wolfgang Niersbach, the DFB president.
Russian and Spanish FAs have been fined a total of €50,000 for fans' racism. On which subject, Paul Brennan writes: "I would like to point out that the fines totalling €50,000 dished out to the Russian and Spanish FAs are hugely harsh. Sure, there were fans doing trivial things like throwing racist abuse around, but it's not as if any of them had branded underwear from a betting firm, which would have put a real sour note on the tournament."The
I'm going to hand over to Tom Lutz for a short while. Back soon!
Vicente Del Bosque has been having a wee chat with the media, what with him having a Euro 2012 final to oversee, and reckons he isn't too bothered about not eliminating Italy when Spain had the chance to. "Never have we regretted not drawing with Croatia to eliminate Italy. This wasn't good for sport," said Del Bosque. Although it may have been better for England. "Italy and ourselves have lived parallel lives and now we have to be at the level that a final demands."
"You know, the sad thing is that somewhere, some tooth-gnashing Mail reader will be looking at Paul Brennan's email (1.21pm) and shaking their head, muttering something about 'political correctness gone mad', 'a big fuss over nothing', or, my personal favourite 'I'm not sure the Blacks mind that much anyway' (the last being an actual quote from the Mail comments section after the Sepp Blatter/racism handshake row," writes Doug Johnston. "And so the problem continues, mainly due to ignorance and complacency. Tougher sanctions for racism please, Uefa/Fifa!"
Anyone else been thinking about Mario Balotelli's blue tape? What's that? David Guy has? Let's hear what he has to say then: "Let's just hope it wasn't an advert for adidas, lest lovely old Mario be banned for the final and perhaps also the rest of eternity."
Transfer news! Ben Foster has signed for West Bromwich Albion from Birmingham for an undisclosed fee.
More transfer news, together with an innovative "end the quote" competition! Yakubu Ayegbeni has moved to Guangzhou R&F in China from relegated Blackburn for another undisclosed fee, ending a constant headache within British sports journalism, namely whether he is "Yakubu Ayegbeni", "Yakubu Aiyegbeni", "Ayegbeni Yakubu" or just "Yakubu". ""It's a new adventure for me after playing in Israel and England," Yakubu told BBC Sport. "Many will ask why China? The truth is..."
So readers, I challenge you to end that sentence more convincingly than he did.
Euro 2012 silly animal prediction madness: it's started.
Some Yakubu quote guesses. Peter Wilson writes: "Many will ask why China? The truth is … I love prawn crackers. Simple as." Nice try. Sean Boiling reckons: "The truth is … as a fan playing in China is a lifelong dream of mine and one I couldn't let pass me by." Not quite. (Mildly disappointing) answer coming up.
What Yakubu actually said was: "Many will ask why China? The truth is there is not much to prove after scoring almost a century of goals in a league considered as one of the best in the world." Yeah, I know.
Cesare Prandelli's tactical masterplan: "We will look for Spain's weak points and work on those areas, even if it won't be easy because they are the world and European champions and here they are in the final again." I'm really looking forward to the final – Italy v Spain (1) and Italy v Germany were possibly the two finest performances of the competition.
Unhappy medical news: Eusebio, who has been admitted to hospital four times since December suffering from hypertension, suffered a stroke earlier this week and is in hospital in Lisbon. "Eusebio is conscious, lucid and collaborates in all the medical care being done. His family is with him and his friends have been visiting," Luz hospital clinical director Jose Roquette said. "He will stay in hospital for an undetermined period of time and constantly under watch." Get well soon!
written this report. Does Sergio Ramos fancy taking another penalty? What does he think of Andrea Pirlo? Those questions and more will be answered!Sid Lowe has been to Spain's press conference and
this guide to Israeli Premier League squads in the 1999-2000 season, uploaded in September 2000, which gives his birthdate as 6 December 1977. This would make him 34. I'm sure he'll be happy to send through a copy of his passport, once the glue has dried."Has no one questioned his apparent age of 29?" asks John Tumbridge of Yakubu. "It seems a tad optimistic to me." It means that he would have been 16 when he joined Maccabi Haifa, which is quite young. Since you ask, I found
And with that I'm going to leave you. Someone else will be along with some more news soon. Bye!
That's it for the day, but please do join us tomorrow when there will be more build-up to the build-up of the final.