Italy vs Spain predictions and match preview for Wednesday’s UEFA Nations League Semi-Final clash. Read on for expert analysis, the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups as these two sides lock horns for the second time in three months.
|Date||Wednesday 6th October 2021|
|Kick-Off||20:45 (local time)|
|Competition||UEFA Nations League Semi-Final|
Italy vs Spain Preview
The UEFA Nations League Finals kick off in Italy this week. They do so at San Siro with a repeat of the Euro 2020 Semi-Final between Italy and Spain. While it ended in penalty shootout heartbreak, that was actually one of La Roja’s best performances of the summer and they’ll have revenge on their minds in Milan this week.
While considerably less important than the big two international competitions, should this week end with a trophy, that would be Spain’s most significant achievement since 2012 and the clearest sign yet that they may be heading in the right direction again. It would also help Luis Enrique silence a few of his critics, many of whom have long since made their mind up about the former Barcelona boss.
Accusations that it’s easier for Barça players to make this squad weren’t exactly rebutted this week by the inclusion of 17 year old Gavi, a player with less than 300 minutes of experience for Barcelona’s first team. Fellow teenager Yeremi Pino is the other uncapped player in this squad but Pedri, Marcos Llorente and Brais Mendez have all withdrawn through injury leaving Luis Enrique with reduced options in midfield.
Spain come into the game after a mixed time of it in the September internationals. Defeat in Sweden cast serious doubt on their chances of securing automatic qualification to the 2022 World Cup but they did bounce back with victories over Georgia and Kosovo.
As for Italy, their recovery from not even qualifying for the 2018 World Cup has been pretty extraordinary. Under Roberto Mancini they’ve gone a record-breaking 37 games unbeaten in international football in a run which stretches way back to a Nations League defeat in Portugal in September 2018.
That’s the measure of the task facing Luis Enrique’s Spain here and they aren’t helped by having to play the game in Milan. They will most likely face a similar eleven to the one they met at Wembley in the summer with no major retirements for the Azzurri since the summer who are still skippered by veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini.
In truth, Italy haven’t fully convinced since winning Euro 2020 in London. They drew their first two qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland in September before easing past Lithuania but will still fancy their chances of collecting fresh silverware this week.
Head to Head
- The sides last met in Euro 2020 in the Semi-Finals with a 1-1 draw followed by an Italy penalty shootout win.
- The previous meetings came in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with Spain winning 3-0 at home and drawing 1-1 away.
- They also faced off in the last 16 of Euro 2016 when Italy won 2-0.
- The sides also met in the Final of Euro 2012 when Spain brilliantly capped their golden era with a dominant 4-0 win.
Ciro Immobile is Italy’s main absentee. Matteo Pessina and Rafael Tolói have also withdrawn from the squad.
Spain are missing Pedri and Marcos Llorente to injury. They also have problems at left-back with no Jose Gaya or Jordi Alba, meaning Marcos Alonso or Sergio Reguilon may get a start.
Predicted Italy Starting Lineup:
Donnarumma – Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson – Barella, Jorginho, Verratti – Chiesa, Kean, Insigne (4-3-3)
Predicted Spain Starting Lineup:
Simon – Azpilicueta, Torres, Laporte, Alonso – Busquets, Koke, Merino – Sarabia, Torres, Oyarzabal (4-3-3)
Italy vs Spain Predictions
Score Prediction: Italy 1-0 Spain
Spain did pose a lot of questions for Italy in the summer and Luis Enrqiue got his tactics right in that Semi-Final but there is still something that doesn’t fully convince about this Spanish side. Even at such a young age, Pedri’s absence already feels significant and you’d expect Italy to get a much stronger grip on the game in midfield this time around. With home advantage, Italy may just edge it.