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March 5, 2014
• Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
Referee: E. Aranovskiy
• Attendance: 35000
Full time in Madrid. Spain are the victors at the Vicente Calderon as a solitary strike from Pedro sees the World Cup champions narrowly defeat Italy 1-0. Vicente del Bosque's men dominated possession for the most of the match, and despite Italy coming close through Alessio Cerci and Pablo Osvaldo, probably deserved their win. Only one more match to go for Italy and Spain before the World Cup Finals in Brazil! I'm Martin Macdonald, thanks for joining us! See you next time!
90' + 1'
Superb clearing header from Xabi Alonso! The corner is whipped in and Destro looks poised to head in, but the Real Madrid man comes in with a wonderful diving, defensive header to turn it away from the Italian!
Three minutes of added time here, as Azpilicueta concedes a corner kick...
The result was never particularly important tonight, but I'd say most of the players have put in a pretty decent audition for the World Cup squad here. Some of them won't make it though, unfortunately!
Abate flights in a throw in from the right-hand side and Immobile cushions a lovely ball into the path of Montolivo who crashes a volley at goal, but Raul Albiol comes rushing out of the box to charge down the attempt.
Cazorlaaaa! Almost an immediate impact from the substitute! David Silva sets up his compatriot inside the box and he slams a strike at goal that is blocked by a combination of Abate and Buffon!
Pedro is the latest player to be replaced for Spain and the goalscorer leaves the park to another warm applause form the Vicente Calderon crowd. Arsenal's Santi Cazorla will come on.
Diego Costaaaaaa! Just wide! The 25-year-old receives the ball with his back to goal before shifting round the corner of the Italian defence and lashing a strike towards the bottom corner, but his attempt goes a yard beyond the post!
Ohhhh poor touch form Immobile! The Torino forward initially does well to take the ball in at the edge of the box, but his next touch of the ball allows Javi Martinez to come in and stab it out of the box away from danger. He should have got the shot away!
Valdes floats the ball up top and Diego Costa does brilliantly to take the ball in with a chested touch before touching back to Thiago. The Bayern man sweeps the play out to the left-hand side for Silva.
Yellow CardMattia Destro
Spain just beginning to feel their way back into their passing game after having their flow disrupted by the flurry of substitutions. Xabi Alonso is dictating the play from the middle, with Jesus Navas and David Silva looking the players most likely to make something happen.
The raft of changes from either side has effected the tempo of the match as neither side has really dominated in the past 10 minutes or so. Victor Valdes is yet to see any action since coming on at the break, so Italy will be looking to at least test the Barca keeper.
Mattia Destro and Cera Immobile come on for Italy now as Cesare Prandelli tests out a new frontline. We've nearly got entirely new first first XIs here now folks!
Vicente del Bosque delves into his ranks again as he introduces Raul Albiol and Jesus Navas in place of Sergio Ramos and Andres Inesta, who receives rapturous applause on his way off the park.
Andrés Iniesta Luján
Jesús Navas González
Pirlo floats the set-piece to the back post and Spain struggle to deal with it, but luckily for them the ball ends up on the roof of the net, rather than in it.
Italy get the free kick in a useful position down the right-hand side as Javi Martinez dives in rashly on Montolivo.
GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLL FOR SPAIN!!! THE HOSTS BREAK THE DEADLOCK!! David Silva looks to exchange a one-two with Iniesta, but instead the ball breaks luckily for Pedro, who manages to squeeze a shot under Buffon! One-nil Spain!
Italy makes their next substitution as Emanuele Giaccherini comes on to replace Thiago Motta.
Spain just aren't making the most of the space being awarded to them at the moment. Silva finds himself with plenty of room to get a shot away at the edge of the box and does so, but it's a dragged attempt and Buffon comes off his line to comfortable come out and claim.
Paletta has been superb at the back for Italy tonight. Like Diego Costa, he is of South American descent, and was born in Argentina, but makes his international debut for a European nation tonight.
Diego Costaaaaa! He's getting closer! Thiago reverses a pass into the box and the Brazilian national looks to turn a strike at goal, but yet again his attempt is hampered by Paletta, who stretches out a leg to just put him off at the last minute.
In a bit of a collector's item here, Pirlo is caught in possession deep inside the Spain half and Silva counterattacks down the right. He curls a pass round the corner and Diego Costa works the channel well to go and collect.
Superb challenge by Alba! Osvaldo gets beyond the two Spanish central defenders and looks poised to have a crack at goal, but the Barca defender comes in with a last-ditch challenge to claw the ball away!
Spain have come out of the blocks the quicker here as they step up the tempo of their passing and intensity of their pressing. Italy not really got out of their own half since the break.
Brilliant by Buffon! Silva squeezes a superb defensive-splitting pass through for Thiago, who latches on to the ball and attempts to curl a strike into the corner, but the Juventus goalkeeper comes off his line quickly to turn the attempt round the post!
Iniesta runs over the ball and Thiago steps up to whip the set-piece at goal, but it just clips the top of the wall and goes out for a corner kick.
Silva collects the ball with a superb touch about 25 yards out and looks to drive towards goal, but is cynically hauled to the floor by Abate. Spain get the free kick in a decent position in the left channel.
Expect plenty more changes from Vicente del Bosque and Cesare Prandelli as the game progresses!
So! Italy have brought on Andrea Pirlo, Ignacio Abate, and Mattia De Sciglio. Spain have introduced David Silva, Victor Valdes, and Xabi Alonso.
Mattia De Sciglio
We are back under way in Madrid! We'll try to keep you abreast of all the substitutions!
Half time at Vicente Calderon. Spain and Italy currently cancelling each other out as we enter the break at 0-0. The visitors hit the post early on and have also gone close through Pablo Osvaldo, but Spain have been the more dominant in possession and look the most likely nation to claim the opening goal.
Yellow CardDomenico Criscito
All of Spain's most productive play in this first half as gone through Iniesta and Pedro, who have looked extremely sharp. But they'll need some more from their team-mates if they are going to grab a Spanish win.
Pedro takes on Criscito down the right flank and leaves him for dead before flashing a cross into the box. Spain get a corner from it. The referee also brings play back to book the Italian, as he nearly took the leg off Pedro in his attempts to make a tackle.
It looks as if Thiago is going to volley at goal from 25 yards out but he cleverly steps inside on to his left foot before drilling a pass into the feet of Diego Costa, but once again the Atletico man is foiled by Paletta, who comes in with a perfectly-timed challenge.
That same duo look to link up once again as Iniesta finds himself deep down the left wing this time. He whips a cross to the front post and Diego Costa aims to bulldoze his way through to get a header on goal, but a combination of Paletta and Barzagli clear the danger for Italy.
Iniesta drifts forward and takes on a couple of Italian defenders before threading a pass through to Diego Costa. The Atletico Madrid man looks to return the pass, but it goes wayward to the feet of Candreva on the left.
Alba gets into an advanced position once again down the left wing, but much like his previous forays forward, isn't too productive. His latest effort is a shot from 30 yards out that goes high and wide away from goal.
Signs of a small turn in the tide at the moment as Italy beginning to see much more of the ball in the final third. It's the Spaniards who are camped in their own half at the moment. Casillas yet to be tested though.
Spain have had the majority of the possession so far, but on goalscoring chances it's pretty even. Italy always dangerous on the counterattack with the pace of Candreva and Cerci and the hold-up play of Osvaldo.
OSVALDOOOOO! HOW CLOSE WAS THAT?! The Juventus loanee collects the ball on the edge of the area and looks to pick out the top left corner with a curled strike. It looks destine to nestle in the corner, but just drifts wide at the last minute!
Motta goes in very late on Diego Costa, in a tackle that wasn't much better than Fabregas' a few minutes ago. This certainly isn't being played like a friendly! The tackles are fairly flying in!
Candreva makes a terrific run down the left-hand side and finds himself in plenty of space ready to receive the pass, but the ball down the flank is horribly miscued from Criscito, and Spain get the throw-in.
Cesc Fabregas is extremely lucky not to receive a yellow after a poor, lunging tackle on Osvaldo just inside the Italy half. If that's in a league game, it's a definite booking.
Pedroooooo! Good defending from Paletta! The Spaniard finds some space a yard inside the box and looks to release a strike on goal, but the Parma defender just manages to stretch out a leg to block the ball behind for a corner.
Alba receives the ball on the left once again and goes on a signature bursting run to the byline. His cross into the box isn't up to much, though, and and ends up going out for a throw-in on the opposite end.
Now here's a bit of a clash of personalities. Sergio Ramos and Pablo Osvaldo, who aren't exactly knows for their cool heads, come together in midair, leaving the Italian down clutching his face. There's nothing in it though, and the ref eventually gets the game moving again.
After a bright start from both sides it is now Spain who are beginning to assert their dominance on proceedings. The Italians looks to be set up for the counterattack through Candreva and Cerci, and so are sitting deep inviting the pressure.
Thiago looks to get beyond the Italy defence and latch on to a floated ball over the top, but he just can't stretch out his leg to pull it out of the air, and Buffon comes out to claim.
Some scintillating play from Spain on the edge of the Italy box at the moment. Fabregas, to Thiago, to Iniesta, and back again as the trio continually exchange lovely one twos.
Diego Costa comes deep to receive possession before turning sharply and sliding a pass out to left-mid for Iniesta. The Barca man glides down the flank before returning the pass into his team-mate.
It's Cerci who picks himself up to take the set-piece, but the delivery is shallow and Spain manage to clear through a Sergio Ramos header.
Cerci drives down the right-hand side before swiftly cutting inside, only to be shoved down by Sergio Ramos. Italy get the free kick about a third of the way into the Spain half.
Pedroooooo! Decent save again from Buffon! The Barcelona forward picks up possession 25 yards out and rifles a shot towards the bottom corner. It was an awkward for the Italy keeper, but he manages to palm it to the side away from danger, allowing Barzagli to clear.
Pedro collects the ball on the edge of the box and shows Motta a few neat stepovers before attempting to clip a cross to the edge of the box. The PSG player stands tall to divert the ball out for a corner though.
ITALY HIT THE POST!!! A cross is floated to the back post and Cerci but ends up going straight over Casillas and off the woodwork! The visitors almost take the lead early on!
Diego Costa doesn't take long to stamp his signature mark on the game by putting Paletta on his backside with an authoritative shove to the back.
Good goalkeeping from Buffon in the early stages! Alba goes on a penetrating run into the box and cuts inside at the byline, but the Juventus keeper was on his toes to come out and pounce on the loose ball!
We are under way at the Vicente Calderon!
We are just a few minutes from kick-off folks. National Anthems to come!
Don't forget folks, Del Bosque and Cesare Prandelli have a raft of options available on both benches, so expect to see a flurry of substitutions as the match progresses.
Italy, meanwhile, earned respectable draws against Germany and Republic of Ireland.
Spain could only manage a 2-1 win against minnows, Equitorial Guinea, before losing 1-0 to South Africa a few days later.
Both nations were unbeaten in World Cup qualifying and topped their respective groups, but their form in the subsequent friendly matches after qualifying haven't been too concinving.
Conspicuous by his abence in the Italy starting line-up is Mario Balotelli, who misses the clash in Madrid due to a shoulder problem. Danielle De Rossi has not been included in the squad after appearing to throw a punch at Inter player Mauro Icardi in Roma's match on Sunday.
There remains some other interesting selections from Vicente del Bosque in the Spain XI. Cesar Azpilicueta and Javi Martinez feature at the back after starring for Chelsea and Bayern this season.
However, it should be noted that as the 25-year-old has not represented either at competitive international level, he is still eligible to feature for Brazil at the World Cup in June.
Two debuts. One for Brazil. One for Spain. Both against Italy. You couldn't write it, really.
The Atletico Madrid star was born in Sergipe, Brazil, and made his first appearance for the World Cup hosts last March against the Azzurri. However, having not featured in a competitive match, he has been drafted in by Spain after gaining Spanish citizenship last year.
Obviously, the most interesting inclusion tonight is that of Diego Costa, who makes his SECOND international debut.
Italy (4-3-3): Buffon; Maggio, Paletta, Barzagli, Criscito; Marchisio, Motta, Montolivo; Candreva, Osvaldo, Cerci.
Spain (4-3-3): Casillas; Azpilicueta, Javi Martinez, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Thiago, Cesc; Iniesta, Diego Costa, Pedro.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I'll be taking you through the action!
Good evening folks! Welcome to LIVE coverage of the international friendly clash between Spain and Italy from the Vicente Calderon!
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