Venue: PGE Arena, Gdańsk
Match time: 18:00 UTC+2 on June 10, 2012
Title-holders Spain take on Italy in one of the high-stakes clashes of the group stages.The newly built stadium, with a capacity of more than 40000, hosts the first match of Group C. The people of Gdansk and Poland will relish the experience of watching two European heavy-weights clash this Sunday.
Spain, under Vincent del Bosque, shrugged off their chokers tag and gone on to become one of the most accomplished teams in the world of football. Favourites to win the European crown again, the La Roja could be the first team ever to retain the European championship. Their preparation ahead of the tournament was ideal as they won all three of their warm-up games. Since form in the recent years has been terrific- 37 wins in 40 matches. Winning is a routine for this bunch, who maintain the highest standards in the beautiful game.
Italy, on the other hand, ran into all sorts of trouble ahead of the tournament. Their preparations for the tournament were disrupted all they lost all three of their pre-tournament friendlies without even scoring a goal. Due to injuries, the head coach Cesare Prandelli has struggled to devise a settled formation for his team. The Azzurri are not expected to defeat Spain but they were not expected to win the 2006 World cup either. Despite all their frailties Italy cannot be taken for granted and no one knows this fact better than del Bosque.
Spain are on an enviable winning streak, having won all their last fourteen matches.
The last meeting between the two was in August 2011 and it ended in a 2-1 victory for the Azzuri.
Italy last scored a goal in November 2011, in a 2-0 victory over Poland.
Spain defeated Italy on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the quarter-final of Euro 2008, on their way to the title.
La Roja won all their matches in the qualifiers while the Azzurri won all but two of their qualifiers.
Spain’s defence would sorely miss the ever dependable Carlos Puyol, who was ruled out of the Euro with a knee injury. David Villa, the little magician, too is out of the squad due to injury. For Italy, Andrea Barzagli’s injury has caused Prandelli to tinker his formation and he is likely to play a 3-5-2 formation with Maggio and Balzarreti as wing backs.
Spain’s probable lineup (4-3-3): Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Iniesta, Torres, Silva
Italy’s probable lineup (3-5-2): Buffon, Bonucci, Chiellini, de Rossi, Maggio, Nocerino, Pirlo, Marchisio, Balzarreti, Cassano, Balotelli
Though Italy might be tough customers, they might find it difficult to hold the sharp Spanish attack for the whole game.Spain have a great chance of winning this game and finish as group winners.
Spain 3 Italy 1
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.