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Teams of the Week
June 27, 2013
• Estádio Governador Plácido Aderaldo Castelo, Fortaleza, Ceará
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 56083
Spain won 7 - 6 on penalties
That's all from us at Goal tonight, from both myself Simon Harrison, and also Goal correspondent Eric Gomez, we hope that you've enjoyed the coverage and will tune in next time. Keep your eyes peeled on our website, as match reaction will be coming up as soon as we can get it!
Despite all of Prandelli's masterminding and his sides' hard work, Italy go out cruelly, despite Candreva scoring the first penalty with a cheeky Panenka finish.
There we have it! Spain progress to Sunday's Confederations Cup final here in Brazil after a 7-6 penalty victory over Italy, courtesy of a Bonucci missed spot-kick.
120' + 14'
Pen SO GoalJesús Navas González
7-6! SPAIN ARE THROUGH! Navas wriggles the ball home past the outstretched arms of Buffon!
120' + 13'
Pen SO MissLeonardo Bonucci
6-6! BONUCCI MISSES! The Juventus defender skies it high and wide!
120' + 12'
Pen SO GoalBusquets
6-6! Sergio Busquets tucks the ball home!
120' + 11'
Pen SO GoalRiccardo Montolivo
5-6! Montolivo slots the ball into the back corner once again!
120' + 10'
Pen SO GoalJuan Mata
5-5! Juan Mata levels, composedly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner.
120' + 9'
Pen SO GoalAndrea Pirlo
4-5! Andrea Pirlo slots the ball effortlessly into the bottom left corner!
120' + 8'
Pen SO GoalSergio Ramos
4-4! Ramos smashes the ball into the top left corner! No messing!
120' + 7'
Pen SO GoalSebastian Giovinco
3-4! Giovinco slides the ball into the bottom left corner, Casillas bites the ball in frustration!
120' + 6'
Pen SO GoalPiqué
3-3! Pique slams the ball home similarly confidently!
120' + 5'
Pen SO GoalDaniele De Rossi
2-3! De Rossi slams the ball home into the top left corner!
120' + 4'
Pen SO GoalAndrés Iniesta Luján
2-2! Iniesta slots the ball home composedly!
120' + 3'
Pen SO GoalAlberto Aquilani
1-2! Aquilani squeezes the ball home past the sprawling Casillas!
120' + 2'
Pen SO GoalXavi
1-1! Xavi sends Buffon the wrong way!
120' + 1'
Pen SO GoalAntonio Candreva
0-1! Candreva converts, dinking the ball over Casillas with a wonderful Panenka!
120' + 1'
CHANCE! Great counter attacking from Iniesta finds Navas on the right hand side, and the winger squares the ball - but it finds nobody! Italy clear, and the crowd go wild! This really is dramatic stuff.
Eric Gomez: High drama as penalties near. The Castelao crowd has re-ignited for the umpteenth time, and are now dividing their chants between local war chants for Fortaleza and Ceara. As Buffon apparently wins the coin toss, the crowd shouts with glee. A heavy air of excitement and anticipation abounds as both teams share their final huddles before judgment arrives.
That's it! The game goes to penalties! The sides were unable to separate themselves, and now we have a penalty shootout to enjoy. I'm not too sure which way this will go, but neither side deserved to lose that game.
Good defending from Pique! A good cross from Maggio, who was looking for Giovinco at the front post, is cleared into touch by Pique!
Wasted ball from Sergio Ramos! The Real Madrid man tries a spectacular ball instead of an easy option, and the ball runs out of play for a goal kick, much to Del Bosque's frustration.
Great ball by Martinez! The Bayern Munich man lofts the ball towards the back post, picking out Navas, but the Man City man miscontrols and Giaccherini shields the ball out of play for a goal kick. Cries of "Italia" fill the stadium!
Away by Chiellini! An acrobatic effort fails to come off from a Xavi corner, before Ramos stands the rebound up towards the back post, but Chiellini nods it behind. Spain fail to capitalise with the following corner, and Italy look to get hold of the ball for an extended period of time again.
Xavi slips the ball wide to Navas, who drives a cross along the ground in search of someone to tap the ball home at the back post! Buffon gets a touch, and it's behind for a Spain corner.
POST! MARTINEZ! Xavi hits a wonder strike from 30 yards out, arrowing the ball against the post after a thumb from Buffon! Martinez tries to turn the rebound home, but it rolls agonizingly wide of the back post.
Close moment for Buffon there! De Rossi plays Bonucci into trouble, before Bonucci quickly offloads possession and puts Buffon into trouble! The veteran clears under pressure, but that was very close.
Despite Spain having the better of the first half of extra time, Italy are enjoying the second half, minus Mata's shot. Prandelli is down on his knees in thought and possibly prayer, as his team edge towards the finishing line.
Italy win a free-kick in a reasonable area, after Alba shunts into the back of Candreva and Pirlo stands thoughtfully over the set piece. The delivery isn't quite as desired, and the ball is headed away by a defender.
Chiellini is down exhausted and suffering from cramp it seems, and it looks as though the Juventus defender will need to continue. Spain could look to exploit this turn of events, as Navas is still relatively fresh, as a second half sub.
MATA! Jordi Alba cuts the ball inside to Mata, who tries a curling effort with his right foot from 20 yards out, but it just finds the wrong side of the post! That was very close for the Chelsea player of the year.
No chances as of yet, as Italy look keen to retain the ball rather than force the issue, except for when their fresher players receive the ball. Ramos goes down claiming a push from Giovinco, and Italy's attacking momentum peters out.
And we're underway in the second half of extra time! Spain look to have the upper hand.
Now Italy must face penalties without specialist Mario Balotelli! Surely that would have been a guaranteed goal. I wonder if Pirlo will try anything as audacious as a Panenka.
105' + 1'
105' + 1'
There goes the half time whistle in extra time! Both sides look exhausted, but they have 15 minutes to win it before a penalty shootout!
PIQUE! Play has been pulled back for handball as Pique looked to control the ball and thrash it home! Yellow card for the central defender.
XAVI! The ball arcs over the wall, as the Barcelona playmaker aimed for Buffon's top left corner, but Xavi doesn't quite get it right. Buffon watches the ball over, while Ramos complains to Howard Webb that the wall had encroached.
Free kick to Spain in a very dangerous area! Pirlo gives Iniesta the faintest of nudges, and the Barcelona man goes down, before Xavi commands the situation by claiming the set piece. Buffon readies the wall...
Things are getting a little stretched now, with Spain now able to really showcased their technical ability. I'd say Italy are going to need to conceded a few yellow cards before the end of extra time. Iniesta and Mata look very tricky.
PIQUE! A Xavi free-kick is flighted in search of Pique and Ramos, but the former gets to the ball. Buffon is pleased to watch the ball balloon harmlessly over his crossbar, while Pique looks frustrated.
Giovinco is found offside, before Bonucci gives away a freekick for a foul on Mata! This is end to end stuff again, but only due to the fatigue in both sides, Italy's defenders look exhausted.
JORDI ALBA! After a quiet game, and a great ball from Iniesta, Jordi Alba almost scores the games' opening goal! He tries his luck with a volley, but narrowly places it over Buffon's crossbar, with the goalkeeper beaten! Great play from Spain and that was very close.
Spain are resurgent in extra time, pressing more readily from the front - but surely this leaves more room in behind for Italy to exploit? Prandelli is keen to keep his full-backs high up the field.
RAMOS! Another rebound falls to a red shirt in the penalty area, but Ramos leans back too much and blazes his effort miles over the bar! In fairness, if it had been on target, an Azzurri defender would have blocked its path.
GREAT DEFENDING DE ROSSI! A great corner is flicked on by Pique, before De Rossi pokes the ball away and over the bar as Ramos swung his boot!
PIQUE! A Xavi free-kick is half cleared, before the rebound falls to Pique, who chested the ball down and unleashes a good strike at Buffon's goal. A last ditch block manages to divert the ball behind for a corner, which Spain fail to capitalise on.
GIACCHERINI! Great ball from the right hand side, which Giovinco helps on its way across the goal, before the Juventus midfielder hammers a strike off Casillas' post! So close for Italy!
Eric Gomez: We're off and running in the first half of extra time, with Casillas and Buffon, the only ones who didn't have to run about for 90 minutes, smiling before the start of the first period as they define which end of the pitch they get for the first 15 minutes. The crowd has also been quite subdued, as the game's thrill-inducing plays were almost exclusively confined to the first half of what is now on its way to becoming an epic.
JESUS NAVAS! Buffon punches brilliantly away from Sergio Ramos, after a good delivery from Xavi, before Navas tries an audacious half volley from the rebound! Buffon gets back in his goal and manages to get his body behind the ball to spare his own blushes.
The first period of extra time is underway! Howard Webb flips the coin with two rather sweaty goalkeeper captains, where Buffon decides to stay in his side's current half. Giovinco will offer pace for the cramp-stricken Gilardino, who really gave everything he had.
90' + 4'
After Candreva pulled back Iniesta, La Roja have a free kick in a dangerous area, which will probably be the last attack of the game. Xavi delivers, but an Italian head manages to divert it behind and to safety!
90' + 3'
Eric Gomez: Extra time looms at the Castelao and both sets of players will be worse for wear in the final 30 minutes. Opinions are divided as to which side is the most affected by fatigue, but from my vantage point it seems like both squads will suffer for a half-hour. Undoubtedly, the big winners here are Brazil, who already have an extra day of rest and will face a battered opponent that has gone beyond regular time at the semifinal.
90' + 2'
MONTOLIVO! The Milan midfielder tries a spectacular overhead kick from Maggio's cross, but doesn't get the desired contact on it! The scuff falls to Gilardino, who was in an offside position - not that he could have got to the ball anyway, he looks exhausted.
90' + 1'
We've got three minutes of stoppage time left to play, if neither side can score, we'll be continuing for another half an hour! Italy are happy to give the ball all the way back to Buffon, it's as though Prandelli is satisfied with taking the reigning world champions to extra time.
After 90 minutes, where Italy have had greater joy than they could have ever imagined, how do you think this game will finish? Giovinco looks to be warming up to replace Gilardino - do you think this will change the game in Italy's favour? Tweet me your thoughts: @simonhfootball.
Del Bosque will be pleased that after his introduction of Jesus Navas, La Roja have given Italy a bit more to worry about, but generally Spain have been off-form. The first five minutes suggested Spain would stroke the ball around confidently, but Italy have broken them down.
Notable chances in the second half fell to Pique and Gilardino, but neither team have managed to rustle up a goal. Italy are tiring a bit, despite their continued readiness to get the ball wide to Candreva and Maggio, but I think that Gilardino will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
There goes the full time whistle, this game will be going to extra time! Italy have matched the world champions every inch, with Iniesta, Torres and Navas being the only Spanish players looking inventive. Italy have been industrious and patient on the ball, and have reaped their rewards.
MATA! Jesus Navas loops a ball to the back post, Torres nods it down to the penalty spot in search of Mata, but his Chelsea teammate can't get a satisfactory touch on the ball, and it rolls through to Buffon!
Italy are looking quiet tired, and it'll be interesting to see what intensity extra time will be played at if we get to it! Navas is a real livewire, Chiellini might be forced to bring him down cynically soon!
Good header from Maggio! Great play between Mata, Torres and Iniesta almost results in the latter getting possession in the penalty area, but Maggio's recovering header nods it back to Buffon. He's done well tonight, despite being criticised for his Azzurri performances in the past.
Pique has gone down, after falling awkwardly following an important header back to his own goalkeeper, with Gilardino waiting. I think the Barcelona man landed strangely on his ankle, and Shakira looks concerned. He gets back up to continue however, he looks fine to play on.
JESUS NAVAS! The substitute tests Buffon yet again, with his bouncing effort difficult for the Juventus keeper to deal with. The Manchester City substitute certainly has offered more than the new teammate he's replaced, that's for sure.
PIQUE! Fernando Torres does well to strive forward before stabbing the ball wide to Navas, who centres the ball in search of a red shirt. Pique is surprisingly the first man to the ball, and he puts the ball miles over the bar! He'll be hoping Shakira wasn't watching!
Spain are looking a little low on ideas, Italy have a clear direction to get the ball wide as soon as possible, bypassing the short game which Spain play so well. Jesus Navas is played in behind Chiellini, but Buffon is quick to come out and claim the loose ball.
CANDREVA! A pacey ball from the right hand side meets powerfully with Casillas' torso, as the Italian delivery is comfortable for the opposition goalkeeper. Neither side are looking as assured when creating chances, but Italy do look more dangerous. Spain are willing to be patient.
Well cleared by Chiellini! Jordi Alba is fed a ball at the byline once again, by Torres, but his cross is headed clear of danger by Chiellini. The rebound is squared by Navas, but Buffon claims.
After a change from both sides, could this make the difference? With ten minutes remaining, this game looks to be heading to extra time, as they've matched each other brilliantly. Juan Mata is a tricky customer, and is certainly someone for the Italian back three to worry about.
Giaccherini is played in behind the Spanish defence, but Casillas is quick off his line to catch the bouncing delivery. The Real Madrid man has looked solid tonight, in the first half he kept his side in it.
GILARDINO! The opportunity almost falls to him, but the ball eventually comes in a different direction to what he anticipated, and he can't control it. Another half chance for Italy, Gilardino has worked hard but it's not quite worked for him tonight in front of goal.
Corner after corner for Italy, they're pushing on now, and Del Bosque will respond by warming up Juan Mata. Sergio Ramos heads away the latest set piece, but Italy retain possession and continue to stroke the ball around leisurely.
Almost a delightful ball from Pirlo, the playmaker is finding his feet as players tire a little. A corner is won as a result, Candreva takes, but the ball falls out of a huddle of challenging players in Spain's favour. Italy are playing well at the moment.
PEDRO! Pedro is played in behind Bonucci brilliantly, and Buffon has to rush out to deal with the Barcelona winger. Instead of lofting the ball over the onrushing veteran, Pedro instead panics and stabs the ball out of play. How strange.
Pirlo whips in two good corner deliveries, the first of which is headed away brilliantly by Pique, the latter of which is looped onto the roof of the net by Chiellini. Spain are looking the more likely to go behind at the moment!
Eric Gomez: After a stunted stretch that included Claudio Marchisio going down for an extended period, the Castelao roared back to life when Colombian pop singer (and Pique WAG) Shakira was shown on the video monitors at the stadium. Minutes later, and on the back of several "Ole" chants, Candrevia was very close to giving Italy its long deserved go-ahead goal.
CANDREVA! The Lazio man cuts inside onto his left foot at the back post, but his effort is blocked well by Jordi Alba! Backs to the wall stuff for Spain at the moment, two last ditch blocks in two minutes.
Italy are back in control once more, with a good spell of possession, as they patiently build an attack. Now it's Spain's turn to sit in and hold their shape. This won't have been what people were expecting to see!
MARCHISIO! Great block from Pique! Great interplay from Maggio and Candreva allows for the former to play the ball into a dangerous near post area, but Pique is alert to block Marchisio's first time shot!
Marchisio goes down after a challenge from Arbeloa, and the Juventus man goes off the field for treatment on his heel. Arbeloa knew what he was doing there, he stopped a dangerous looking break.
Buffon claims brilliantly from a looping Iniesta cross, after good work around the area from Busquets. Spain are looking more dangerous by the minute, as Italy are tiring a little bit. With De Rossi on a yellow card in the centre of their defence, things are looking slightly less stable for Azzurri.
Yellow CardDaniele De Rossi
Iniesta looks determined to be the difference in this game, he's driving with the ball whenever the space opens up ahead of him, and he's willing to have a long range effort. With his offensive teammates looking quiet, this is exactly what Spain need.
INIESTA! What a fantastic run! The Barcelona man turns past Chiellini, before stepping inside Bonucci with ease, cutting inside onto his right foot. Iniesta shoots, but blazes well wide, after leaving two players for dead. Unlucky!
Gilardino is caught offside yet again, and the experienced striker will be wondering what he has to do to time his runs perfectly. Jordi Alba is still being closely watched by the combination of Candreva and Maggio, and when he's shackled, Spain lack an outlet and an overload.
Eric Gomez: Spain have certainly adjusted in the second half, and are using their share of possession to reach Italy's area for the first time in a long time. Italy has lost its counterattacking punch due to La Roja getting better settled on the pitch and taking advantage of the aforementioned temperature drop. This is not thrilling the fans, who have resorted to starting another Mexican wave to amuse themselves.
Both sides aren't quite clicking now, as Italy's crisp counter attacks are falling victim to a few mistakes, whereas Spain just aren't creating chances regularly. Navas has made a difference, but aside from his own shot on goal, Spain haven't put together any dangerous attacks.
Italy choose not to deliver straight into the penalty area, stroking the ball around the periphery of the field, but Chiellini strays offside as the Juventus defender tries to put a ball across the six yard box. Chances have dried up a little for Italy in the second half.
Good work from Maggio! Sergio Ramos steps in to stop a cross from the Napoli man, but Italy retain the ball in an advanced areas. Candreva manages to play the ball off his marker from the resulting throw-in, and Italy have a corner..
NAVAS! The substitute tests Buffon, who has to get down well to his right, after a lay-off by Torres. That was a nice move from Spain, and Navas is already causing Chiellini a few problems with his pace.
RAMOS! The central defender got up well to meet Xavi's free-kick, but was in an offside position when he did so. He throws his hand up in disgust, but I think he knows he was offside.
Maggio lofts a cross into the box, in search of Gilardino, but Casillas claims. The Real Madrid keeper fires the ball down the right hand side out of his hands, where Navas manages to win a free-kick from Chiellini.
Half chance for Ramos! The Real Madrid man throws himself to the ground, asking for a penalty from Chiellini, but the Juventus man drags him to his feet. The introduction of Navas might just stretch Italy's back three, forcing Chiellini to break the compact trio.
Jesús Navas González
OOH! Great cross from Candreva! The Lazio man works fantastically to prevent a loose ball from running out of play, before flighting in a cross with his left foot in search of Gilardino. The ball evades it's target before narrowly bouncing wide of Casillas' back post.
Merely five minutes into the second half, and Del Bosque is already shuffling his pack. Spain's front three have been poor, and Jesus Navas is warming up on the touchline. This could well change the game, Spain have threatened little down the right.
The jeers continue from the home fans in the stadium, as Spain continue to patiently build and look for the gaps. Jordi Alba is finally involved in the final third, but it's only to whip in a cross from the byline which Buffon claims easily.
INIESTA! Great interplay between Iniesta and Fernando Torres sets the Barcelona man into the penalty area at the tight angle, and he blasts his shot wide of the target, considerably so. Iniesta looks at the sky in desperation.
This game has restarted very cagily, with both sides giving away the ball needlessly in the opening exchanges. Italy look to be continuing with the tactics employed in the first half.
De Rossi is presumably going to be asked to play long, direct balls from the centre of defence, which he is more than capable of. The Roma man can hit Maggio or Giaccherini with ease, which could be key to Italy's counter-attacking.
And we're back underway for the second half, and it looks as though Daniele De Rossi will be playing the second half in the back defensive three. Can Spain turn things around in the second half?
Eric Gomez: The sun continues its march towards the horizon in Fortaleza and shadows fall over the Castelao, giving both Spain and Italy a more pleasant atmosphere for the second half. Will it be the European champions who take advantage of the improved conditions? Or will the runners-up make amends for their dreadful drubbing at last year's Euro final? We're minutes away from the answer.
Eric Gomez: Howard Webb blows for halftime and the Castelao crowd gives both teams an extended round of applause for their efforts. However, Italy have to feel like they've let a golden opportunity slip, and the game's ebb and flow is reminiscent of La Roja's last game here against Fortaleza against Nigeria. The African champs dominated play and generated a bevy of chances but were unwilling to hit the target. That's happened to Italy, and Prandelli will have to urge his boys to put the ball away in the second half or risk the Spanish reaction.
Vincente Del Bosque might look to change things up in the second half, as Pedro, David Silva and Fernando Torres have been a little quiet. Generally, it's been a strange half for Spain considering what we're used to seeing, Iniesta and Xavi have both given the ball away at times.
In such heat, it will be interesting to see if Italy can keep up this explosive an direct style of play. Candreva and Giaccherini must be exhausted, they've burst down the wings with such frequency. There could be a real chance of this going to extra time, but Spain can always step up another gear.
Italy have really enjoyed that first half. Candreva, Maggio and Giaccherini are the stand out players for me, causing Spain's full-backs all kinds of problems - Maggio should probably have a goal too. Spain are limited to only Torres' solitary chance of the half, which he should have buried.
I saw plenty of your predictions before the game, all of which favoured Spain to win by a couple of goals, have your thoughts changed over that first 45 minutes? Tweet me your new prediction, or tell me why you still think Spain will cruise to victory: @simonhfootball.
Half time! What a very interesting game that was, Italy should have a half time lead too! This wasn't what spectators expected, as a well disciplined Prandelli side are keeping Spain out while breaking brilliantly.
XAVI! Iniesta finds his Barcelona teammate with a wonderfully lofted ball towards the back post, but Xavi can't quite stretch enough to stab the ball towards goal! Great ball from Iniesta.
The home fans are booing the Spaniards once again, as Del Bosque's men stick to their philosophy and continue to stroke the ball around. This certainly won't be the type of game they'll expect when Brazil face the victors in the final!
DE ROSSI! Casillas beats away a powerful effort from the Roma man, as Giaccherini breaks fantastically yet again down the left hand side. Casillas couldn't have held that, it was travelling with some force.
Spain are trying to draw players to the ball, and out of their shape, but Prandelli's men aren't having any of it. Azzurri are biding their time, nicking possession, and then breaking powerfully.
Buffon is quick off his line to smother a ball aimed towards Torres, as Spain continue to not quite pull off their offensive moves. Iniesta has been choked a little in this game through good Italian work, and it's showing. Spanish chances aren't flowing.
Nice work from Spain! A backheel from Iniesta ends up giving the ball away, but La Roja had managed to carve out on overload down the left hand side. With Candreva working hard, it's possible that while the Lazio man has a breather, Spain can exploit.
Casillas has kept his side in this game, certainly, Spain are struggling a tad against this well-marshalled Italy side. There's plenty of the game left however, I'd say that both sides have got goals in them. Italy slightly better value so far in terms of chances though.
TORRES! OOOH! That was so close! The striker turns Barzagli fantastically after receiving the ball from Xavi, but thrashes his chance well wide with his left foot from eight yards out! That was Spain's best chance so far.
MAGGIO! The wing back has another golden chance! Great movement from the Napoli man to arrive late at the back post in an onside position, but Giaccherini's cross can only be turned against Casillas by his compatriot! Good save in the end.
Poor ball from Pirlo! He plays his teammate into trouble with a short pass, allowing for Alba to intercept, as Maggio threatened to overlap on the right hand side. It's not quite happened for Pirlo in this tournament, I'm not sure whether he's looking a little tired.
Disappointing delivery from Pirlo, as the Juventus midfielder miskicks the ball into Jordi Alba. The Brazilian crowd have something to cheer about finally, as Pirlo pulls off a nice piece of skill, but the atmosphere really is quite poor.
Great clearance by Ramos! A good ball towards the back post in search of Gilardino by Marchisio is headed away by Ramos, as Italy threaten once more. Giaccherini demonstrated his energy beforehand, beating Arbeloa for pace.
The atmosphere is fairly flat at the moment, with the game itself being broken up by the odd foul by Italy. De Rossi and Maggio have already left their mark on their opponents, and I would imagine that a few more cynical challenges will be required to stop Spain from getting into their stride.
OFFSIDE! Marchisio is fed in behind the Spanish defence by De Rossi, after great hold up play from Gilardino. Italy are having a lot of luck with a direct style of play, as they are finding pockets of space which Spain have surrendered as a result of their midfield pushing on.
Spain are trying to work the ball, looking for even the most minute opening, but so far Italy are slamming the door in their face. Whenever the ball gets within 20 yards of Buffon's goal, a Chiellini interception or a misplaced pass is enough to allow Italy to win the ball back.
The battle between Candreva, Maggio and Jordi Alba is certainly a key area for today's match. All three have great stamina and energy levels, so it appears to be a matter of who will tire a little first - after watching Spain vs Nigeria, I'd say that Alba won't be tiring any time soon.
SILVA! A great ball by Xavi fed David Silva centrally, with the Manchester City man in a pocket of space inside the Italy penalty box. However, the Spaniard fails to turn acutely, and the ball rolls through to a grateful Buffon.
The combination of Maggio and Candreva has managed to nullify the threat of Jordi Alba so far, but the left-back only needs one opportunity to get in behind. Spain are more than content to keep hold of the ball, the longer they make Italy chase shadows, the more fatigued Azzurri will be in the second half.
Italy look dangerous on the break, despite Spain's monopolisation of possession. It's been very much a patient midfield battle so far, until Italy get the ball. Candreva has been brilliant on the right side, especially with Maggio prepared to go beyond him too.
Gilardino is found offside! Another well weighted Italian ball finds its way over the Spanish back line, but the striker made his run slightly too early. Spain are still being frustrated, Italy are sticking to their game plan brilliantly.
Pirlo isn't having the easiest of starts for Italy, as the veteran has been hounded and pressured into giving the ball away a couple of times. Latterly, the playmaker gifted the ball to Torres on the edge of the box, but the striker could only turn the ball to the back post, where Maggio cushioned the ball back to Buffon.
Italy really should be ahead, they've had several fantastic chances in the past few minutes, but haven't been able to capitalise. Chances wish they just might regret missing, come the final whistle. Azzurri look comfortable so far, but it's unrealistic to suggest that they can sustain these effort levels in this heat.
MARCHISIO! Great play from Giaccherini and Candreva once again to set up Marchisio, but the Juventus midfielder can't get his header on target! Casillas is a lucky man there, he was rooted to the spot, but thankfully for Spain, Marchisio couldn't get the desired contact on Candreva's squared ball.
DE ROSSI! That should be 1-0 to Azzurri! Pirlo whips in a delicious cross from the right hand side, right onto the head of De Rossi, who can only divert the ball wide of Casillas' back post! Oh dear, he just might rue missing that opportunity!
Great running from Candreva! Both him and Giaccherini have already shown the work that they are prepared to put in, and Giaccherini has already shown that he can sustain such efforts. Spain might have met their match against Prandelli's hardworking men here.
MAGGIO! Casillas has to be quick off his line to make a wonderful save! Maggio gets beyond his man after the ball is played over Alba, but the Real Madrid goalkeeper is at his best to beat away Maggio's header!
Ooh, half chance! Pique manages to clear a Candreva cross, but this is worrying for Spain. Italy are turning defence to attack in two or three passes, releasing Maggio and Giaccherini well in the absence of the marauding Jordi Alba.
GILARDINO! Italy patiently work down the right hand side, before Candreva finds Maggio advanced down the right wing. The Napoli man squares the ball, finding Gilardino, but he can only drag his shot harmlessly wide with his instep.
Italy's Juventus back three are holding firm thus far, with Spain failing to get in behind thus far. It seems that Spain might have some luck down the flanks, with Italy playing a back three, even if it means working the ball through the middle formerly, then distributing wide.
Torres hasn't seen much of the ball in the opening stages, but manages to run his marker down the flank well, outpacing Chiellini seemingly with ease. However, when the Chelsea man reached the byline, there was nobody to deliver to. Italy continue to frustrate.
The slow pace of this game might well be disliked by the home fans, as they boo their own Selecao if they pass backwards! This looks to be a game of minds rather than physicality. Italy already have done a great deal of hard work, trying to close down space and Spanish options.
The absence of Mario Balotelli hasn't proven itself to be too problematic for Italy thus far, as Gilardino has barely seen any of the ball. I think that the experienced striker will be employed to release the pacier options of Candreva and Giaccherini rather than going it alone.
Whenever La Roja are in possession, Jordi Alba seems desperate to find himself in another goalscoring position. The Barcelona left-back is forever haring forward in the hope of getting the ball in advanced areas, and we all saw the reason why in Spain's 3-0 win over Nigeria - he can finish.
MAGGIO! Pirlo's corner delivery rises well, almost unmarked, but can only direct his header narrowly over Casillas' crossbar. Although Spain have seen a lot of the ball, Italy have had a few half chances already.
Italy seem keen to draw Spain out when starting from a goal kick, I'm not sure if they're hoping to tire their opponents out in this weather! Sergio Ramos is forced to clear a Candreva cross, blasting the delivery out for an Azzurri corner..
Now Casillas has to be quick off his line! A lofted, ambitious ball bounces beyond the Spanish back line, and Giaccherini almost manages to get on the end of it. In the next attack for Spain, Chiellini does well to head the ball away at the back post, with Torres lurking behind him.
RAMOS! Iniesta finds a marauding run from defender Sergio Ramos, but the Real Madrid defender lost his footing on the edge of the area as Iniesta looked to play his compatriot beyond the last man. Very close.
Spain are seeing the majority of possession in these early stages, with Prandelli's Italy side clearly set up to frustrate Spain. All the while, while La Roja are on the ball, the home fans jeer and whistle.
GIACCHERINI! Italy break, and the home crowd get behind Azzurri! De Rossi broke powerfully, before squaring the ball to Gilardino. Gilardino sets the ball back to Giaccherini, who puts the ball onto his right foot, but his curls his shot well wide of Casillas' post.
PEDRO! Two half chances in two minutes for La Roja. Pedro drags a shot wide, moments after being found unmarked in the box in the first thirty seconds. Spain have already started to move the ball well, with Italy remaining controlled in their shape.
And we're off! Howard Webb blows his whistle, and the game is underway. The heat seems unbearable in Brazil, this should be a very interesting clash!
Both of the national anthems have rung out in the stadium, with the home fans seeming to get behind Italy, as opposed to Spain. Could it be because the home fans expect Spain to be their main rival for the competition?
We're minutes from kick off now and there's a good attendance in Fortaleza, as can be expected when two international titans clash. Howard Webb is the referee for tonight's game, the Englishman has had plenty of experience in high profile games, so hopefully things will run smoothly in terms of officiating.
Spain are certainly expected to continue their world record unbeaten run against Italy, but do you agree with the majority? Be sure to tweet me your pre-match predictions, I'd love to hear what you think of Azzurri's chances of pulling of an upset, or how big Spain's margin of victory will be: @simonhfootball.
Eric Gomez: A sizable cheer from about a 50% capacity crowd that's already seated and expectant for today's semifinal clash. As Andrea Pirlo is shown on the stadium's screens here in Fortaleza, a second hearty cheer comes from the crowd. They know their football, and the Juventus playmaker has embodied skill and talent at the Confederations Cup, so far. As we await the arrival of the Spanish team on the pitch, it will be interesting to see whether the Fortaleza crowd have warmed up to them, as they were summarily booed throughout the Nigeria match four days ago.
Italy substitutes: Astori, De Sciglio, Aquilani, Giovinco, Sirigu, Marchetti, El Shaarawy, Cerci, Montolivo, Diamanti.
Spain substitutes: Albiol, Martinez, Azpilicueta, David Villa, Fabregas, Valdes, Mata, Soldado, Monreal, Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Pepe Reina.
Italy starting line-up: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Pirlo, De Rossi; Giaccherini, Marchisio, Candreva, Maggio; Gilardino.
Spain starting line-up: Casillas; Jordi Alba, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, David Silva, Torres.
TEAM NEWS: As expected, Mario Balotelli is out with a muscular complaint, while Andrea Barzagli, Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Candreva and Alberto Gilardino are drafted in. Daniele De Rossi returns following a suspension. Spain opt to start Fernando Torres upfront, following the Chelsea striker's goal against Nigeria in their previous fixture.
Spain have recently broken a world record for 28 consecutive unbeaten matches, whereas Italy are having to recover from a 4-2 group defeat to Brazil in their last match. La Roja are the favourites, with good reason, and with a full strength side out could win this match comfortably if things go to plan.
I'm Simon Harrison, I am excited to be keeping you all updated with tonight's action from Fortaleza, as seemingly invicible Spain face off against an Italy outfit without star striker Mario Balotelli. We also have a man on the ground for your benefit, Goal correspondent Eric Gomez will be supplementing my coverage with plenty of updates from Estadio Governador Placido Aderaldo Castelo itself.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the much-anticipated 2013 Confederations Cup semi-final between Spain and Italy. It seems to be regarded as a miracle if Azzurri can pull off a win, but this game promises to be extremely exciting and tightly contested.
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