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Euro 2016: Italy vs Spain - 5 players to watch out for

5 players to watch out for in tonight's titanic round of 16 tie between Italy and Spain.

Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta could be the key for Spain

The much awaited mouth-watering Euro 2016 clash between Italy and Spain will kick off tonight with only one team making it to the quarter-finals. Defeat in their final group stage encounters, against the Republic of Ireland and Croatia, for Italy and Spain respectively, will hardly act as a dampener for either side.

While Spain have mesmerised the world with their polished passing and superb link-up play in the final third. Italy have been clinical on the counter attack. Antonio Conte’s tried and tested 3 man back line with 2 wing-backs on either side, has reaped rich dividends, with Italy counter attacking their opposition with devastating speed and incision.

This side of the pool is tougher compared to the other, which makes this a nail-biting affair. The winner of this match will progress to the quarter-finals and face off against reigning world champions Germany. Let us take a look at the players who will play a deciding role in today’s encounter.

1) Andres Iniesta

There seems to be nothing this man cannot do in the midfield. For Andres Iniesta, time almost stands still when he receives the ball. El Cerebro, as he is fondly called by fans of La Roja, is a midfield architect without a parallel in the modern game.

Iniesta’s performances in Euro 2016 till now have been so good, it led a commentator to place him above Zidane and Ronaldinho on the hallowed pedestals of midfield maestros.

While his place in the pantheon of greats might be debated, one thing that is indisputable is Iniesta’s numbers. Winning three consecutive man of the match awards in the Euro championships including one for the final in 2012, the enigmatic midfielder has once again set the stage alight in 2016.

In three games, Iniesta has a passing accuracy of 92.3% and has played an average of 95 passes per game, as per whoscored.com Iniesta has once again got Spain ticking over in midfield, and expect the Italians to sweat over how to stop him tonight.

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