NEWS
Thursday June 27 2013
Line-ups: Spain-Italy

Italy switch to a three-man defence and rely on Alberto Gilardino as they take on Fernando Torres’ Spain in the Confederations Cup semi-final.

It kicks off in Fortaleza at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT, 16.00 local time).

The winners go on to face Brazil in Sunday’s Final, while the losing team will battle Uruguay for third place.

The Azzurri are forced into several changes, as Mario Balotelli and Ignazio Abate are out for the rest of the tournament due to injury.

Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi return from a calf problem and ban respectively, having missed the 4-2 defeat to Brazil.

Cesare Prandelli therefore counters Spain’s possession football with a 3-4-2-1 system that has Claudio Marchisio and Antonio Candreva supporting centre-forward Gilardino.

Emanuele Giaccherini is likely to exchange places with Marchisio and Candreva during the game, giving Spain fewer reference points.

The back line is entirely lifted from Scudetto winners Juventus, including goalkeeper Gigi Buffon.

Spain have won all their games so far in the Confederations Cup, but have a mixed history against Italy. They lost a friendly 2-1 in Bari, then drew 1-1 in the Euro 2012 group phase before a 4-0 triumph in the Final of the same competition.

Cesc Fabregas and Roberto Soldado shook off injuries to become available for this match, while Iker Casillas gets the nod in goal.

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres starts in attack with Pedro and David Silva.

La Roja are reigning World and European champions, currently on a 25-match unbeaten streak, which includes 20 victories.

Italy will wear black armbands after former Fiorentina and Milan player Stefano Borgonovo died today, aged 49. He had been suffering from Lou Gherig’s Disease – also known as ALS – since 2008.

Meanwhile, anti-Government protests continue outside the stadium, as locals clash with police.

Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets; Pedro, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva; Torres

Italy: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Maggio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Giaccherini; Candreva, Marchisio; Gilardino

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