In the biggest match of the tournament so far, Italy will face holders Spain at the Stade de France in Paris. In the round of 16 clash of the UEFA Euro 2016, Italy will be looking to cause an upset against one of the favourites of the tournaments, while La Furia Roja will look to bounce back from their shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Croatia in their final group game. The winner of this game will face Germany in the quarter-final in Bordeaux next Saturday.
The Azzurri started their campaign with a 2-0 win over Belgium and followed it with the 1-0 win over Sweden in their next football game. However, Antonio Conte’s side suffered a shock defeat in their final group game against Republic of Ireland.
Vicente del Bosque’s side started their quest to win their third successive European Championship with a narrow win over Czech Republic, but recorded a comprehensive victory against Turkey in their second match. However, their 15 match unbeaten run at the Euros was brought to an end by Croatia.
Speaking ahead of the match, Antonio Conte has warned Spain and has challenged the holders to prove that they are worthy of beating his side and progressing.
He said: “We have a great deal of respect for Spain: they are one of the best teams in the world and among the favourites to win UEFA EURO 2016. Even so, we've worked and prepared, and it's a last-16 game which will have no tomorrow for one of us. We must not have any regrets.
“Everybody talks about defence, about being wary of all their players, but I say let's make sure Spain are wary of what we do. There is organisation in our defence, but there is also organisation in our attack. We've got to try to pull off a shock.
“I don't want to go home, the lads don't want to go home. We're not going to be sacrificial lambs – it is up to Spain to prove they are better than us.”
Meanwhile, Del Bosque reminded the world of his side’s recent triumphs over the Azzurri and has urged his side to put their training into practice.
He said: “In the last European Championship, our first game was against Italy. They were better than us, but we drew and then we ended up beating none other than Italy in the final. We hardly changed anything in between those two matches, although coaches do obviously have to have a bit of flexibility so they can make changes at any given moment.
“I think we've got a good idea about how we want to play in relation to the players we've called up, and now it's about putting it into practice.”
Live Stream and Kick-off time
The match will be live from 21:30 IST (Monday), 17:00 BST (Monday). Watch live streaming of Italy vs Spain on SonyLIV. Follow Italy vs Spain, Euro 2016 Live Score and Commentary with Sportskeeda. The match will be telecasted live on Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India, Fox Sports in the USA and Premier Sports in the UK. The match will be played at the Stade de France in Paris.
Conte will have to make do for the crunch game without the services of Antonio Candreva, who is out with a thigh problem. Alessandro Florenzi is expected to slot in place of the Lazio man at right wing-back. It is expected that the 46-year-old will not make any other changes to his starting line-up.
On the other hand, Del Bosque has stuck with the same starting eleven so far in the tournament and he is not expected to make any changes to his side for the tie.
The Azzurri have as many as 10 players in their squad, who are just a booking away from suspension, these include – Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Rossi, Eder, Lorenzo Insigne, Thiago Motta, Simone Zaza and Salvatore Sirigu. While Spain have only Sergio Ramos, who is a booking away from getting suspended for the next game.
Italy: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini, Darmian; Pellè, Éder
Spain: De Gea; Juanfran, Piqué, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Fàbregas; Silva, Iniesta, Nolito; Morata
Form guide (Most recent first)
Italy have won four of their last five games, with the solitary loss coming in their last game against Republic of Ireland.
La Furia Roja have recorded three wins in their last five games with the two losses coming in games against Croatia and Georgia.
Head to Head record
Italy have faced Spain on three occasions in the last two editions of the European Championship. The Azzurri were knocked out on penalties in the quarter-final of 2008, before holding La Furia Roja to a draw in the group stage of Euro 2012. However, Italy then succumbed to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Del Bosque’s side int he final of 2012.
The game will be the sixth played between the two teams in European Championships – making it the most played fixture in the history of the tournament.
The Azzurri last recorded a competitive win over Spain in the quarter-final of the 1994 World Cup, which the Italians won 2-1 and current national team coach Antonio Conte had started that match for the Italy.
In their last 11 encounters, Spain have only suffered one defeat, while winning four matches and drawing the remaining. (The two matches that were decided on penalties have been counted as draws).
Spain will be lurking to record their first big kill of the tournament, while the Azzurri would be plotting revenge for the loss in the final of 2012. It is expected to be a high-octance clash and we predict Spain to claim a 1-0 win.Published 27 Jun 2016, 17:46 IST