Spain vs Italy - Match preview and team news
The first game of Group C sees the current European Championship holders and World Cup winners, Spain, against 5-time World Cup winner Italy. A clash of the titans, both are tipped to progress through their group but will be looking for a win to get their respective tournaments off to a good start.
Spain are hot favourites to win the overall tournament, becoming the first team to do so back to back. Heading into their first game, the Spanish are currently on a 14 game unbeaten streak in competitive action – also winning all four friendlies in 2012.
But they are missing one key component of their previous winning campaigns, all time top scorer David Villa. The Barcelona striker hasn’t traveled to Poland and Ukraine after breaking his leg back in December. Expected to pick up from Villa is Chelsea striker Fernando Torres. Although suffering a tough time since his big money move to London, the striker has shown signs of his old goal scoring touch in recent months, scoring a number of goals at club level and netting against South Korea last week for Spain.
The Italians, for the first time in a few years, are coming into the competition as a team not favoured to win the tournament but that can be Italy’s most dangerous asset. At the World Cup in 2006, there was a similar feeling surrounding The Azzuri but it was Rome that the Jules Rimet trophy ended up.
Italy have been experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation recently and defensive midfielder Daniele Di Rossi looks likely to find himself switching to centre back for the opening game, with Andrea Barzagli set to miss the opening two games with a calf strain.
Spain don’t have any serious injury concerns, Cesc Fabregas did have a hamstring issue but appears to be fit after returning to training on Wednesday.
Italy come into Euro 2012 having won only two of their last five games including a surprising loss to the United States in February. But history is in their favour, the 6 times these two teams have met at an international tournament, the Italians have only lost once. In their most recent meeting, a friendly in August, Italy ran out 2-1 winners.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Spain v Italy