UEFA Euro 2016 Knockout Stage Preview – Italy vs Spain

Italy vs Spain, Stade de France, Saint-Denis


Match Log

Italy

Belgium 0, Italy 2 (Giaccherini 32, Pelle 90+3)
Italy 1 (Eder 88), Sweden 0
Italy 0, Republic of Ireland 1 (Brady 85)

Spain

Spain 1 (Pique 87), Czech Republic 0
Spain 3 (Morata 34, 48, Nolito 37), Turkey 0
Croatia 2 (N Kalinic 45, Perisic 87), Spain 1 (Morata 7)

Team News

Italy

Antonio Conte did not play a full strength side in Italy’s last group game against Ireland, and he should make at least eight changes to the side that lost 1-0. Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli will definitely retain their spots in the centre of defence, and they will be rejoined by Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini. Graziano Pelle and Eder will replace Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza up front, and Antonio Candreva, Daniele de Rossi, Emanuele Giaccherini and Marco Parolo should return in midfield.
Likely team (3-5-2): Buffon – Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Parolo, de Rossi, Giaccherini, Florenzi; Pelle, Eder.

Spain

Vincente del Bosque has not yet changed his starting line-up at this tournament, and he should keep the same team for the game against Italy despite a disappointing loss to Croatia. The only real selection question surrounds who will start at right back, with Hector Bellerin aiming to push Juanfran out of the job after the Atletico Madrid stalwart performed poorly against the Croats.
Likely team (4-3-3): de Gea – Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta; Silva, Morata, Nolito.

Keys to success

Italy

Defence. The Italians are going to concede vast amounts of possession and territory to Spain, and they will need to be prepared defensively for a Spanish team who pass the ball around more effectively than any other side at this tournament. The back three of Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli will need to hold firm if Italy are going to get anywhere, as the Italians will struggle to make up the difference should they go behind.

Spain

The Spanish will try and keep possession away from the Italians as they attempt to penetrate the formidable defence that Italy can call upon. Andres Iniesta had a rare bad game against Croatia, and del Bosque will be looking for him to step up and create plenty of chances for Nolito and Alvaro Morata up front. Morata has had a great tournament so far, and he will need to step up and make life difficult for his Juventus teammates in the Italian defence.

Prediction

This game is shaping up as the best of the round, and the winner will probably go in to the rest of the tournament as favourites. The Spanish should dominate possession and territory, but to win they will have to penetrate a defence which is experienced and incredibly difficult to beat. Spain have enough quality to do it, and they should win, but it will be very hard. Spain 1-0.

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