Italy U21-Spain U21 Preview: Azzurri look to halt Roja charge
The Spaniards are closing in on back-to-back European titles - thus emulating their senior counterparts - but Devis Mangia's side will strive to end their nine-year drought
By Livio Caferoglu
Following their gritty performance in seeing off Netherlands in the semi-finals, Italy are likely to make few changes to their personnel, with only Fausto Rossi and Ciro Immobile likely to make way.
The Juventus midfielder struggled to deal with the combative nature of the Oranje central players in Petach-Tikva last Friday, while the Genoa striker was hauled off midway through the second half.
With that in mind, expect Alessandro Florenzi - who was deployed on the right flank - to be moved inside, with possibly the attacking guile of either Riccardo Saponara or Nicola Sansone as his replacement.
Meanwhile for Spain, their single alteration is likely to see Alvaro Morata, the competition's top scorer with four strikes to his name in Israel, return to the XI at the expense of the goal-shy Rodrigo.
David de Gea is also set to become Spain Under-21's joint-record appearance holder when he takes to the field in Jerusalem - equalling the haul of the side's assistant coach Santi Denia with 27 caps.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
The only nation to have won the trophy more times than Spain are Italy, with triumphs in 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Fabio Borini was an unused substitute in Italy's defeat to Spain in the Euro 2012 final.
- The Azzurri have the upper hand psychologically on opposition coach Julen Lopetegui - he was on the bench when Spain lost to Italy in the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals.
- Spain - unbeaten in 25 competitive matches - go into the final seeking to emulate the senior team's feat of back-to-back European titles.
- They have become the first team to reach the showpiece without conceding a goal since the adoption of a group stage format in 2000.
Thiago Alcantara (pictured, right) was born in Italy as his father Mazinho, a 1994 World Cup winner with Brazil, represented Fiorentina at club level.
Top 3 Predictions
Italy Under 21 1-2 Spain U21
- 16.42 %
Italy Under 21 2-1 Spain U21
- 14.36 %
Italy Under 21 1-3 Spain U21
- 12.65 %
|UEFA European U-21 Championship (EU21)||18-Jun-2013||Italy Under 21 2 - Spain U21 4|
|International Friendlies (FR)||13-Nov-2012||Italy Under 21 1 - Spain U21 3|
|Italy Under 21|
|19-Nov-2013||Serbia Under 21 1 - Italy Under 21 0||EU21|
|15-Nov-2013||Italy Under 21 3 - North. Ireland U21 0||EU21|
|15-Oct-2013||Belgium Under 21 0 - Italy Under 21 1||EU21|
|09-Sep-2013||Cyprus Under 21 0 - Italy Under 21 2||EU21|
|06-Sep-2013||Italy Under 21 1 - Belgium Under 21 3||EU21|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|