NEWS
Sunday June 10 2012
Probable line-ups: Spain-Italy

There are still some doubts as to how Italy will line up against Spain today, though Daniele De Rossi is bound for a centre-back role.

The Azzurri open their Euro 2012 campaign in Gdansk at 17.00 UK time with Cesare Prandelli confirming a “versatile” 3-5-2 system.

Due to Andrea Barzagli’s injury, Roma midfielder De Rossi is re-routed to central defence along with Juventus duo Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, though Angelo Ogbonna is also an option.

Christian Maggio seems to be the favourite for the right wing-back position ahead of Milan’s Ignazio Abate.

Emanuele Giaccherini is tipped for the left side rather than Federico Balzaretti, despite his lack of international experience. This would be the Juve man’s first Azzurri cap.

Thiago Motta has pushed his way into the Juventus midfield of Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, while Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli are set to be the front two.

Spain stick with their tried and tested approach that has won them Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, though Carles Puyol and David Villa miss the tournament due to injury.

The only real doubt is in attack, where Fernando Torres is battling for the centre-forward role with Sevilla star Alvaro Negredo.

The Spaniards are without a competitive defeat since June 16 2010, the opening World Cup game against Switzerland, going 14 official matches unbeaten. They also qualified with a 100 per cent record for this tournament.

Italy were unbeaten in qualifying with the most miserly defensive record of conceding just twice, but have lost their last three friendlies without scoring a single goal.

The record between these nations sees 10 Italy victories, 11 draws and eight Spain successes.

The Azzurri won their most recent friendly meeting, 2-1 in Bari on August 10 2011.

Spain knocked Italy out of Euro 2008 on penalties after the quarter-final ended goalless, but it’s worth noting that La Roja have never beaten the Nazionale over 90 minutes in a competitive match.

The record in official UEFA and FIFA competition over 90 minutes is three Italy wins and three draws.

Probable line-ups

Spain (4-2-3-1):Casillas; Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Piquè, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso; Silva, Xavi, Iniesta; Torres

Italy (3-5-2):Buffon; Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini; Maggio, Thiago Motta, Pirlo, Marchisio, Giaccherini; Cassano, Balotelli

Ref: Kassai (Hun)

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