Spain & Italy go toe-to-toe in Group B

Two of UEFA’s most revered national teams go toe-to-toe in Gelsenkirchen as three-time European Championship winners Spain meet current holders Italy for the fifth tournament in succession. After producing one of the most eye-catching results of the opening round with a 3-0 win over Croatia, Spain may well have revenge on their mind here after suffering elimination at the hands of Italy in the last two Euros finals.

Spain’s opening day victory came on the back of some rampant form in qualifying (W7, L1), although their record against Italy over the years is balanced on a knife edge (W13, D16, L11). Extending that slender all-time H2H advantage would see La Roja qualify for a fifth successive knockout phase with a game to spare, although four of their seven meetings against Italy at the Euros have ended level.

Another stalemate would likely be enough to see both sides through to the knockouts early, but the two-time European champions Italy are unlikely to pull any punches in this one. The Azzurri had to do it the hard way in their opening game, launching a quickfire comeback victory against Albania – after conceding the earliest goal in tournament history – to maintain boss Luciano Spalletti’s hopes of emulating his predecessor in achieving maximum points in the group, just as they did in Euro 2020.

This is Italy’s eighth successive appearance at the finals, and a victory will ensure a fifth straight progression into the knockout rounds. A return of five wins from their last seven matches (D2) should boost hopes of toppling the Spaniards, although they may have to work with narrow margins as they scored two or fewer goals in six of those seven encounters ahead of this.



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