Italy vs Spain: Team news, preview & predictions

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Tuesday night brings us the biggest match of the European Championships so far, as Spain and Italy go head to head at Wembley in the first semi-final.

There’s no doubt that these two are continental giants—they have four European titles between them—but only one of them can advance to face either England or Denmark in Sunday’s final.

Italy have been consistently excellent throughout the tournament, and excelled as Belgium were dispatched in the quarter-final.

Spain, meanwhile, are growing into the competition, and consecutive victories over Slovakia and Croatia puts them in good stead, even if they were less convincing as Switzerland were ousted on penalties in the quarter-final.

Luis Enrique Spain

Italy vs Spain: Team News

Leonardo Spinazzola suffered a devastating injury against Belgium, and now requires Achilles surgery; he will be lucky to return to action within six months.

His departure from the camp led to an emotional farewell, and leaves Roberto Mancini needing to find a solution to the influential wing-back.

Emerson Palmieri could be the man to replace him, although this is a switch that will surely weaken Italy’s threat from out wide.

In the good news column, Alessandro Florenzi is back in contention after a calf problem, but will he be able to unseat Giovanni Di Lorenzo and reclaim his defensive berth?

Further up the field, Mancini has a wealth of attacking options, with the likes of in-form trio Matteo Pessino, Manuel Locatelli and Federico Chiesa pushing for starting berths.

Marco Verratti is back from injury and will be a valuable returnee, while Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile will compete for the starting centre-forward berth.

For Spain, Pablo Sarabia is primed to miss out after picking up an early injury against Switzerland—Dani Olmo is likely to replace him—while Aymeric Laporte is a doubt.

 

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Giorgio Chiellini Italy Romelu Lukaku Belgium Euro 2020

Italy vs Spain: Key facts & stats

Despite Italy’s long undefeated streak of 32 matches, they have a poor recent record against Spain, and it’s something that Mancini needs to change on Tuesday.

Italy have won only two matches against La Roja in their last 14 fixtures in all competitions—a friendly triumph a decade ago and, perhaps critically, their last meeting at the Euros.

In 2016, the two heavyweights met in the Round of 16, with Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle sending Italy into the quarter-finals.

At major tournaments, however, it’s the Azzurri who have the upper hand—with four wins and four draws in nine previous meetings—although their quarter-final penalty shootout defeat in 2008 and final defeat to La Roja four years later—were hard losses to swallow.

 

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Italy vs Spain: Predictions

Even though they required extra time to defeat Austria in the Round of 16, Italy have won all five matches at this tournament so far and would equal the Netherlands’ record of winning six matches at a major tournament if they defeat Spain.

It’s a fearsome record, and their 2-1 triumph over Belgium proved that they can get the job done against the toughest opponents in the tournament, winning a classic against the Red Devils and holding their nerve to survive a late onslaught.

It puts them in a strong position to progress to the final, although don’t be surprised if they require extra time or penalties to advance to Wembley’s showpiece.

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Prediction: Italy 1-1 Spain (Italy win on penalties)

 

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