Spain seeks to reaffirm its candidacy against an ‘old enemy’

Spain seeks to reaffirm its candidacy against an ‘old enemy’

The Spanish team faces Italy, current champion, in its second match in the EURO and with


The Spanish men’s soccer team will have a new test this Thursday to gauge its options in the European Championship in Germany when it faces the current champion, an Italy that also debuted with victory, at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen (9:00 p.m./1 p.m.) in the tournament and against which a ticket to the round of 16 will be at stake.

The triple European champion and the four-time world champion cross paths again and will do so without excessive urgency after debuting with victory in the event against Croatia (3-0) and Albania (2-1), also knowing that after the draw among their first rivals, the victory already places them at the crossroads. They will do so for the fifth consecutive edition of a EURO and almost a year after Spain got rid of the ‘Azzurra’ (2-1) in their semi-final of the ‘Final Four’ of the Nations League.

The team coached by Luis de la Fuente ended up winning this title and ratifying their sporting revenge against the rival who had deprived them of playing in the final of the last Euro Cup by beating them in the penalty shootout, although months after that setback they had already retaliated in the semi-final of the ‘F4’ of the Nations League 20-21, also in front of their audience at San Siro (2-1).

Three games, all of them with Roberto Mancini as Italian coach, which had a very similar script and which does not seem to be going to change too much although Luciano Spalletti, the new tenant of the ‘Azzurra’ bench, has warned in the preview that they cannot limit themselves to defending themselves and letting the ‘Red’ have the ball. In fact, that was what happened to the Italian team in those aforementioned last three games that ended with 61-39, 70-30 and 65-35 in terms of possession.

However, the Spanish coach no longer has such a theoretical ‘obsession’ with having the ball and knows that he has weapons to do damage in other ways, in addition to playing in a somewhat more direct way than what the national team did in the past. The best example was the debut against Croatia, winner of the possession (46-54), but loser of the match, largely due to the efficiency of the Nations League champion.

Spain took advantage of their chances to win clearly, although in a somewhat misleading way because Unai Simón was also the protagonist, including a stopped penalty, showing that they will have to maintain better defensive concentration against a rival with probably fewer ‘names’, but dangerous and endorsed by her ability to compete, even greater when she is not marked with the label of favorite that has always accompanied her despite an irregular period with absence in the last two World Cups.

De la Fuente has to decide whether to bet on the same eleven that he had against Croatia or introduce some changes due to the strengths and weaknesses of the ‘Azzurra’. Aymeric Laporte seems fully recovered from any type of discomfort, but everything indicates that Nacho Fernández will remain as Robin Le Normand’s partner to monitor Gianluca Scamacca, a footballer more dangerous than he could appear.

In defense there could be the novelty of Alejandro Grimaldo on the left back instead of Marc Cucurella, while from midfield upwards not many changes are expected except for the possible entry of Dani Olmo who could occupy Pedri’s ’10’ position or replace one of the wingers, preferably Nico Williams.


It will depend on the plan that De la Fuente wants to execute to try to subdue an Italy that started the defense of its European title with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Albania and recovering from conceding the earliest goal in the history of the Euro Cup. , at 23 seconds through Nedim Bajrami.

The ‘Azzurra’ are looking for their best version after a stage with more shadows than lights, reflected in the qualifying phase for this event where they only won half of their games (4), none of them against England, which relegated them to second place. square, and with certain offensive weaknesses (16 goals) and in a defense where emblems such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are no longer present.

Luciano Spalletti could also tweak his eleven in order to put a profile in the middle of players who can contain the rival’s style, such as the case of Bryan Cristante who could accompany Jorginho to put more ‘cement’ in front of the defense where the novelty could be Gianluca Mancini by Riccardo Calafiori. From there, he will try to find the quality of Nicolò Barella and generate danger through Federico Chiesa, much more incisive as he showed three years ago.



SPAIN: Unai Simón; Carvajal, Le Normand, Nacho, Grimaldo; Rodri, Fabián; Yamal, Olmo, Williams; and Morata.

ITALY: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Mancini, Dimarco; Cristante, Jorginho; Chiesa, Barella, Frattesi; y Scamacca.

–REFEREE: Slavko Vincic (SLO).

–STADIUM: Veltins-Arena Gelsenkirchen.

–TIME: 21.00/11.