Italy host Spain in the UEFA Nations League semi-final, three months on from the Azzurri’s 4-2 penalty shootout triumph over La Roja in the EURO 2020 semis.
Luis Enrique’s side will have revenge on the mind when they visit the San Siro. However, Roberto Mancini’s men are currently enjoying the longest unbeaten run in the history of international football (37 games) which they will be keen to extend further.
The Spaniards took top spot in League A Group 4 to advance to the final four, while the reigning European champions went six games unbeaten in League A Group 1, also finishing top of the pile.
A Sunday final clash against France or Belgium is up for grabs and both sides will be keen to add to their Nations illustrious trophy cabinets.
Italy lifted their first international trophy since the 2006 World Cup triumph in dramatic fashion, requiring penalties to get past Wednesday’s opponents and eventually England, after playing out intense 1-1 draws.
Mancini’s side recorded back-to-back draws against Bulgaria (Home, 1-1) and Switzerland (Away, 0-0) before seeing off Lithuania in a comprehensive victory (Home, 5-0).
While the Italians will be delighted to have cut a slice of history during their unprecedented unbeaten run, slight falters against the Bulgarians and Swiss highlighted potential areas to exploit.
Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed the EURO 2020 Best Player award after a string of impressive performances on route to the trophy. His display may be key to ensuring Italy secure passage to the final against a youthful Spanish side keen to make their mark.
Italy Predicted Team:
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Kean, Insigne
Luis Enrique has named another youthful Spain squad for the clash against the European champions, epitomised by the inclusion of 17-year-old Gavi who has just a handful of La Liga appearances to his name.
La Roja have not tasted victory on Italian soil since back in 1971 and more recently, have only won one of their last five meetings with Italy in all competitions.
The Spaniards Nations League group stage campaign endured some surprising results. Most notably, a 1-0 loss to Ukraine and the 6-0 demolition of Germany, eventually topping League A Group 4 by two points.
In their first match after the EURO 2020 heartbreak, Spain were stunned by the Swedes in a 2-1 defeat. Normality was restored soon after though, registering back-to-back clean sheets in wins over Georgia (4-0, Home) and Kosovo (Away, 2-0).
Spain’s summer constants of Pedri, Thiago Alcantara, Dani Olmo and Alvaro Morata are all unavailable due to injury with Jordi Alba also missing out, placing a higher dependency on youth.
Spain Predicted Team:
Simon; Azpilicueta, Torres, Laporte, Reguilon; Koke, Busquets, Merino; Sarabia, Torres, Oyarzabal
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