NEWS
Sunday June 10 2012
Line-ups: Spain-Italy

Italy have chosen Emanuele Giaccherini, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli in a 3-5-2 system, but Spain opt for a no-striker system by dropping Fernando Torres.

The Azzurri open their Euro 2012 campaign in Gdansk at 17.00 UK time, while later this evening in Group C the Republic of Ireland take on Croatia.

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

Christian Maggio and uncapped Giaccherini are chosen to be the wing-backs around midfielders Thiago Motta, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.

As expected, Cassano and Balotelli forge their new partnership, having played just over 90 minutes together in total for Italy.

Spain won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, though Carles Puyol and David Villa miss the tournament due to injury.

Chelsea’s Champions League winner Torres was expected to start ahead of Sevilla star Alvaro Negredo, but instead Vicente del Bosque has pulled the rug out from under predictions.

He is fielding a team with no centre-forwards, so Cesc Fabregas takes the most advanced role.

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.

Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Piquè, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Xabi Alonso; Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta

Spain bench: Victor Valdes, Reina, Raul Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Pedro Rodriguez, Torres, Negredo, Juan Mata, Llorente

Italy: Buffon; Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini; Maggio, Thiago Motta, Pirlo, Marchisio, Giaccherini; Cassano, Balotelli

Italy bench: Sirigu, De Sanctis, Ogbonna, Balzaretti, Abate, Barzagli, Montolivo, Diamanti, Nocerino, Di Natale, Borini, Giovinco

Ref: Kassai (Hun)

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