Italy welcome Spain in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League on Wednesday night.
The reigning European champions come into this game on the back of an unbeaten run that extends back to 2018. That last defeat came at the hands of Portugal in this competition.
Roberto Mancini’s men have come on leaps and bounds since then. Their growth under the former Manchester City manager culminated in the 2020 European Championships victory in July.
That win was at the expense of England in the final. After a tense 1-1 draw after the 90 minutes, the sides couldn’t be separated in extra time. The game went to a penalty shootout, which Italy won 3-2.
Spain’s Euro 2020 campaign ended at the semi-final stages. It was none other than this Italy team that thwarted their progress. This game represents a chance at revenge for Spain.
The hosts got to this stage of the competition having won three and drawn three of their six group games. That meant they won the group by just one point ahead of the Netherlands.
Luis Enrqiue’s Spain team were drawn in a tough group that included Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine. Their final group game was an impressive 6-0 win over the Germans to secure their place as group winners.
It’s set up this mouth-watering semi final clash here and it looks set to be a competitive game. Can Italy repeat their Euro 2020 win over Spain?
Below, we’ll preview this UEFA Nations League fixture and provide our predictions, the team news, our recommended bets and more…
Italy vs Spain Predictions
This looks set to be a tight game between these two huge footballing nations. On recent form, this could go either way.
After winning Euro 2020, Italy kicked off their World Cup 2022 qualifying against Bulgaria in September. Despite dominating the game, the Italians were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw.
That was followed up by an equally frustrating 0-0 draw with Switzerland. It could and should have been so different for Italy however, as Jorginho missed a second half penalty.
The Azzurri had a good warm up for this game last time out though, with a 5-0 win over Lithuania. A Moise Kean brace was added to by Giacomo Raspadori, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and an Edgaras Utkus own goal.
Spain had a less than ideal start to their World Cup qualifying last month. Enrique’s men suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sweden in the last round of qualifiers.
They bounced back with a 4-0 win over Georgia next time out. A dominant display saw four different scorers, with a further two goals being disallowed by VAR.
The Spanish closed out the last international break with an easy enough 2-0 win over Kosovo. Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres were the goalscorers for Spain in that game.
The visitors will have plenty of confidence heading into this. Mancini’s men will fancy their chances of holding out Spain though, especially with their own fans behind them.
Italy’s home record is exemplary. Since September 2017, they haven’t lost a single game in which they were billed as the home side.
Read on for our Italy v Spain predictions and best bets.
Italy vs Spain Head to Head
Since 2011, these two nations have met on ten occasions. Italy have only managed to win two of those meetings, with Spain winning three. The remaining five fixtures all ended in a draw.
The most recent meeting was of course the semi final of Euro 2020. Federico Chiesa and Alvaro Morata, before Italy won an eventful penalty shootout 4-2.
The meeting previous to that was some four years ago in World Cup 2018 qualifying. Spain were the 3-0 victors that day thanks to a brace from Isco and a goal third from Morata.
The reverse fixture in that group ended 1-1 at the Allianz Arena in Turin. Vitolo put the Spanish ahead on 55 minutes and they looked good for the win. An 82nd minute penalty from Daniele De Rossi saw the game end all square.
In 2016, Italy knocked Spain out of the Euros in the round of 16. Goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle secured a 2-0 win that day for the Azzurri.
Spain may have the upper hand in terms of wins, but in recent meetings, Italy edges it. That could be a precursor for how this game pans out.
Italy Team News – W D D D D
Mancini has played around with his starting XI in recent games. However, he’s expected to revert the same 4-3-3 formation and players that started in the Euro 2020 final.
That would see Gianluigi Donnarumma retain his place in goal for the hosts here. The PSG shot stopper will have the ever reliable partnership of Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in front of him.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo will start the game at right back. Leonardo Spinazzola, who was immense at Euro 2020, is still out with injury. That could mean Emerson retains his place at left back.
Chelsea midfielder Jorginho will be asked to pull the strings in midfield. He’ll be kept company in the middle of the park by Nicolo Barella and Marco Verratti.
Ciro Immobile will lead the attacking line for Mancini’s men in Milan. He will be flanked by Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa.
Spain Team News – W W L D D
David De Gea has been in good form for Manchester United so far this season. Enrique seems to prefer Athletic Bilbao stopper Unai Simon, though, and we expect him to start the game in goal.
Our Italy v Spain predictions also expect Cesar Azpilicueta to start at right back. Chelsea team mate Marcos Alonso has been recalled, he could get in ahead of Tottenham’s Sergio Reguillon at left back.
Luis Enrique seems to prefer the centre back partnership of Aymeric Laporte and Eric Garcia. He’s expected to stick with those two in the heart of the defence for this game.
Sergio Busquets will be deployed in his usual role in the centre of midfield. The Barcelona man is expected to be joined by Koke and Pedri in the middle.
Up front is where Enrique has a real headache, with Morata and Gerard Moreno both ruled out with injuries. Ferran Torres will get the nod, most likely alongside Pablo Sarabia and Mikel Oyarzabal.
Italy vs Spain Betting Tips
It won’t be a surprise to most to see the reigning European champions installed as favourites for this. Even so, they’re still tentatively priced at 5/4 in our Italy v Spain match bets.
Three of the last five meetings between these nations have ended in a draw. You back that now at 11/5 if you think it will end all square at the San Siro.
Spain aren’t too bad on the road, losing just one of their last six away games. They haven’t beaten Italy away in 100 years though, and the 12/5 on offer suggests it’s unlikely.
Given that the last competitive match up between these two was such a tight game, we’re expecting the same again. This looks destined to go to extra-time and possible penalties.
There’s some value in backing the draw here, but let’s see if we can pick out some big price punts for you.