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Fabregas starts for Spain, Abate back for Italy
Posted Monday, July 02, 2012 by YAHOO Sport

Cesc Fabregas returned to Spain's starting line-up for the Euro 2012 final with Italy in Kiev on Sunday, while Ignazio Abate was handed a start for Italy after recovering from injury.

Fabregas started as a 'false nine' centre-forward in Spain's opening 1-1 draw with Italy three weeks ago and the 2-0 quarter-final victory over France, but lost his place to Alvaro Negredo for the semi-final against Portugal.

Negredo returned to the bench on Sunday, in what was the only change to coach Vicente del Bosque's starting XI from the side that overcame Portugal 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in their last-four tie on Wednesday.

Cesare Prandelli elected to keep faith with the 4-3-1-2 formation that has yielded victories over England and Germany in the knockout phase, rather than revert to the 3-5-2 system deployed in the opening match with Spain.

The Italy coach made one change to the team that beat Germany 2-1 in the last four, with Abate returning to the starting line-up at right-back in place of Federico Balzaretti.

The AC Milan player had missed the game against Germany in Warsaw due to muscle fatigue.

Spain are bidding to become the first team to successfully defend a European Championship title, while 2006 world champions Italy are seeking a second Euro crown after a previous success in 1968.

Starting line-ups for the Euro 2012 final between Italy and defending champions Spain at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Sunday:

Spain (4-2-3-1)

Iker Casillas (capt); Alvaro Arbeloa, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso; David Silva, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; Cesc Fabregas

Coach: Vicente del Bosque

Italy (4-3-1-2)

Gianluigi Buffon (capt); Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio; Riccardo Montolivo; Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli

Referee: Pedro Proenca (POR)

    Rank Team W/D/L Pts

    Cities & Stadiums

    The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments

    Year Winners Runner-up Third place
    2008SpainGermanyRussia / Turkey
    2004GreecePortugalNetherlands / Czech Republic
    2000FranceItalyNetherlands / Portugal
    1996GermanyCzech RepublicFrance / England
    1992DenmarkGermanyNetherlands / Sweden
    1988NetherlandsSoviet UnionItaly / West Germany
    1984FranceSpainDenmark / Portugal
    1980West GermanyBelgiumCzechoslovakia
    1976CzechoslovakiaWest GermanyNetherlands
    1972West GermanySoviet UnionBelgium
    1964SpainSoviet UnionHungary
    1960Soviet UnionYugoslaviaCzechoslovakia