Italy and Spain are set to meet at Stadio Communale Friuli in Udine in a much anticipated clash of this week’s international friendlies.
Spain are holding a strong record against the Italians in recent years and teams will meet again a few more times as they are drawn together in the same group for World Cup 2018 qualifiers. This could turn out to be an important fixture for both coaches as this help them to test their squad against a strong opposition.
• Italy failed to win their last two matches, a 3-1 defeat against Belgium followed by a 2-2 draw against Romania.
• The Azzuri’s last four matches have seen over 2.5 goals, and kept a clean sheet in none of them.
• Spain are unbeaten in their last seven matches and kept a clean sheet in the last six.
• The last time Spain lost a match was against Netherlands in April 2015.
Italy – Team News
Andrea Barzagli is the latest played to pull out of Italy squad due to injury and his Juventus team mate Daniel Rugani has been called up as replacement.
Georgio Chiellini is already out, while Antonio Conte has overlooked senior players like Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.
Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti are set to start in the midfield and Conte has plenty of options in attack with Southampton striker Graziano Pelle and Eder pushing for a start alongside Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile.
Italy Predicted line-up (4-4-2): Buffon – Darmian, Rugani, Bonucci, Antonelli – El Shaarawy, Motta, Verratti, Candreva – Immobile, Zaza.
Spain: Team News
Real Madrid playmaker Isco has been recalled and could start here, while Barcelona holding midfielder Sergi Roberto may also feature at some point in the game.
Cesc Fagrebas is in terrific form for Chelsea lately and is expected to start in the three man midfield alongside Bayern’s Thiago and ever reliant Sergio Busquets.
Vicente Del Bosque has called Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz in the place of Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who has scored just one goal in his last ten appearance for the country.
It will be interesting to see if the 35 year-old Aduriz could get the nod ahead of Morata and Paco Alcacer. His only appearance for Spain lasted just 15 minutes in October 2010 in the Euro Qualifier against Lithuania.
Spain Predicted line-up (4-3-3): Casillas – Gaspar, Pique, Bartra, Alba – Thiago, Busquets, Fabregas – Isco, Morata, Iniesta.
Italy vs Spain: Head-to-Head Stats
The teams have played against each other on 33 occasion, with Spain winning 12 of those and Italy winning in 10, while 11 of those end in draw.
But Spain are clearly a better team in recent year and are unbeaten in the last five matches against Italy, with 4 wins and a draw.
Italy vs Spain: Prediction
Spain are a settled side, while Italy are still searching for their best eleven. Moreover injuries and the exclusion of key players like De Rossi and Pirlo may not help them when coming up against a team of Spain’s stature.
Vicente Del Bosqu’s side are known for possession based football, while the Azzuri will sit back and defend hoping to launch quick counter attacks. Goal line may stay low and could see under 2.5 goals in a match the La Roja have an upper hand and could edge this one by a narrow margin.