If Spain are going to retain their European crown they are going to have to do it in the hardest way imaginable, with Vicente Del Bosque's side facing a last 16 meeting with the side they beat in the final of the previous tournament.
Italy have so far surpassed the admittedly low expectations, while La Roja's euphoria was curtailed by their late defeat to Croatia in the final group game. That loss pitted Spain in the tough side of the draw, with Germany then likely France set to await in the next rounds should the holders progress.
The manager was quick to stress that the defeat to Croatia had been down to a small lapse in focus, rather than anything more concerning and Spain are clear favourites to make it through to the quarter-finals. Del Bosque's men can be backed at 11/10 (2.10) to win in 90 minutes while their opponents are offered at 10/3 (4.33) and the draw is priced at 2/1 (3.00).
Paddy Power are offering new customers the chance to back either side at an enhanced price. Spain are being boosted to 6/1 (7.0) while Italy are available at 12/1 (13.0). To take up either offer simply sign up using the links provided, back your chosen outcome and get paid at the enhanced price if they win.
Certainly this game feels like it is going to be extremely tight, with the Azzurri expected to defend efficiently and Spain likely to have their customary problems in breaking them down.
Indeed, La Roja often struggle when teams work hard to deny them any space and Italy are of course famous for their ability to control matches defensively. Unsurprisingly therefore the bookmakers are forecasting a low scoring game with under 2.5 goals priced at 4/11 (1.36) and both teams to score 'No' available at 8/15 (1.53).
It is hard to forsee anything other than a tight, low-scoring game and under 1.5 goals, which is a selection that has paid out in three of Spain's last seven matches at the European Championship, is offered at a more healthy looking 5/4 (2.20). However perhaps a little more appealing is the price of 11/10 (2.10) for first goal to come after the 37th minute. We have seen plenty of cagey openings to matches at this tournament and this game promises to be no different, with two of the best defences in the competition facing one another.
Other similar markets to consider include backing the second half to be the highest scoring half at 13/10 (2.30) and backing a goalless first half at 6/5 (2.20). In truth, there could be an argument made for picking any one of these options, given how keenly contested the game should be, but we will stick with the initial selection of a the first goal coming after 37 minutes, a bet which at the time of writing has paid out in 20 games at this tournament.
|First goal after 37th minute at 11/10 (2.10) for a 2pt stake with Paddy Power|