Repeat of Euro 2020 semi for champions Italy

Just a few months after an incredibly tense semi-final at Euro 2020, champions Italy will once again face Spain at the same stage of another competition on Wednesday, where the victors will await either Belgium or France in the showdown on Sunday evening, and the losers the ignominy of a third-place play-off. The hosts have home advantage in the San Siro, but the margins between the two squads are nevertheless wafer thin. Read our preview here:

Still life in the Old Guard

The summer triumph under Roberto Mancini proved beyond a shadow of a doubt at least two things: the tactical evolution of the Azzurri, especially in midfield, and that there can often be little substitute for experience in defence. Juventus stalwarts Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are set to partner each other yet again for their national side, even whilst things haven't quite gone to plan for them in Serie A this season. Though some of the strategies employed to thwart England in the Euro 2020 final were a throwback to the 'dark arts', as the game wore on, their dominance grew. Against Spain, they're unlikely to come up against a conventional striker, but should be able to squeeze the space afforded to Ferran Torres from both directions, especially with Jorginho sitting as the pivot. Lorenzo Pellegrini, who had his contract at Roma extended over the weekend, might have to settle for a place on the bench, with the trio in the middle having a familiar look to them.

Gavi, the next...?

Luis Enrique must deal with a number of injuries and withdrawals if he is to overcome the ominous task the home side will set out for La Furia Roja. Pedri, who has played a ridiculous number of matches this calendar year, is understandably not fit to take up his slot in midfield, but his replacement, Celta Vigo's Brais Méndez, has also suffered an injury. Elsewhere, Marcos Alonso has been called up for the first time in three years, and Pau Torres ought to be favoured over Eric García in defence, especially given the latter's utter lack of discipline for crisis club Barcelona (having already been sent off twice in 2021/2022). However, it's not all been bad news for the Catalonia giants. Yet another talent has emerged in the engine room, 17 year old Gavi. The versatile youngster has been a breakout star whilst many of his more experienced colleagues have toiled under Ronald Koeman's sputtering auspices, and he's a serious contender for a start and with it, his first cap.

Paying the penalty

The visitors will as always attempt to boss possession, but the battle for supremacy and the chance to set the tempo looks to be fierce, even if the 'prize' on offer doesn't really compare to July's. bet365 are offering surprisingly long odds of 6.00 for another 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.

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