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Fresh from a winning tip on Denmark to triumph over the Netherlands yesterday, top tipster Willie Duncan is expecting a tight encounter between these sides in Group C

Reigning champions Spain will begin the defence of their European crown with a potentially tricky tie against 2006 World Cup winners Italy.

Vicente Del Bosque’s men have not enjoyed the ideal preparation for the tournament as injuries to experienced campaigners Carles Puyol and David Villa have forced Spain to make do without them throughout Euro 2012.

Cesare Prandelli’s side, though, have their own problems as a match-fixing scandal back home has cast a considerable shadow over Italy’s preparations ahead of Sunday’s Group C curtain-raiser.

Understandably, as defending European and World champions, Spain go into the match as warm favourites with bookmaker Paddy Power chalking them up as 5/6 (1.83) shots to get their campaign off to a winning start.

The same firm make Italy 15/4 (4.75) outsiders to open with a confidence boosting win while the same firm offer 5/2 (3.50) for the match to finish all square.

In the absence of Villa, Del Bosque is likely to turn to Chelsea’s Fernando Torres to fire Spain to glory just as he did four years ago when he netted the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final against Germany. Torres is a 5/1 (6.0) shot with Paddy Power to open the scoring against the Italians on Sunday.

Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente will be hoping for an opportunity to make an impression in this tournament and he is chalked up at 5/1 (6.0) with Paddy Power to break the deadlock on Sunday. Meanwhile, the goal-hero from the 2010 World Cup final, Andres Iniesta, looks to be great value at a juicy 10/1 (11.0) with Paddy Power to score first.

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is likely to lead the line for his nation on Sunday and can be backed at a chunky 9/1 (10.0) with Paddy Power to score first while dead-ball specialist Andrea Pirlo is a massive 20/1 (21.0) with the Irish bookmaker to open the scoring.

When these two sides met in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, Spain triumphed on penalties after a dour 0-0 draw and another tight encounter looks likely here so the 7/4 (2.75) quote from Paddy Power for fewer than two goals to be scored is the best bet here.

Under 1.5 goals at 7/4 (2.75) with Paddy Power
Andres Iniesta to score first at 10/1 (11.0) with Paddy Power

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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter here.

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