The first match in Group C action is a monster tilt between defending champions Spain and Italy, in what will most likely to determine the group winner.
The combined winners of the last three major World and European titles will certainly be looking to establish their weight from the start, and it is quite evident that the Spaniards are heavily favoured to defeat Cesare Prandelli’s side as Ladbrokes.com currently has them slated at 1.80 for the victory.
The Italians, on the other hand offer a substantial pay increase, with an Azzurri win offering 5.00 should they pull off the upset. They also payout 2.02 should they win or tie, which is something you rarely see for Italy.
The question for Italy is which team will show? Will it be the squad that went undefeated during its 10 match qualifying campaign, while only conceding a European-best two goals? Or will it be the team that was destroyed like a piece of unattended luggage when it fell 3-0 to Russia last week?
Although the Italians defeated Spain in a friendly last August, they have lost their last three matches, including defeats to the U.S. and Uruguay, and they will be hard-pressed to stop the exploits of a dominant Spanish midfield which includes the likes of Barcelona maestros Xavi and Iniesta.
Unbeaten so far in 2012 with four wins, and outscoring their opposition 10-1 during that stretch, the Spanish seem to have done just fine without David Villa, and continue to lean heavily on the two Fernandos - Torres and Llorente - to deliver the goals.
However, one could very much expect both teams to produce a tight and low-scoring display just as they did at Euro 2008 when Spain went ahead on penalties. The under 2.0/2.5 is set at 1.68 and a draw bet is at 3.40.