Saturday June 9 2012
Xabi Alonso admires Pirlo

Xabi Alonso believes Italy are “combative and competitive” when under pressure, revealing Spain have studied Andrea Pirlo and their tactics carefully.

The two nations go head to head in the Group C opener on Sunday at 17.00 UK time.

“Scandals and injuries are just reasons for us to be even more concerned about facing Italy,” Xabi Alonso told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“All this chaos makes us even more alert, because we know what the Azzurri are like. We saw you in 2006 with a big scandal, Juventus sent to Serie B and Italy winning the World Cup.

“Italy are combative and competitive when dealing with difficulties. The problems they are going through do not remotely relax us.”

Cesare Prandelli is likely to switch to a 3-5-2 system after three consecutive friendly defeats without scoring a goal.

“We are studying hard. If you play with five at the back, five in the middle, four in a diamond or with the Christmas Tree formation, we are ready.

“That won’t make us change the way we play, though. It’s just about being intelligent and trying to anticipate the moves of our opponents. We pay attention, but are not obsessed by tactics,” continued Xabi Alonso.

“Pirlo is decisive and that is certainly not a surprise. This season he did a great thing, as it wasn’t easy to leave Milan after a spectacular career as leader and model player to join Juve and win the title with style.

“Pirlo has always put himself forward as a reference point for seeking ever more beautiful football. I always liked Pirlo, because he never wanted to be a protagonist off the field, so ended up being one for what he does on the pitch.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with