In 33 meetings since 1924, Spain have beaten Italy 12 times and lost nine times but no victory was more exhilarating than the 4-0 win in the 2012 UEFA European Championship Final at the Olimpiyskyi Stadium in Kyiv.
The only survivor from that final defeat, almost nine years to the day, is current Italy captain, Giorgio Chiellini. In that victorious Spain team and still running today are Jordi Alba, captain Sergio Busquets.
When the Azzurri march unto the Wembley Stadium pitch to confront Spain in the first semi-final of the Euro 2020 tournament, they will have a 32-match unbeaten run as a part of their armoury.
Roberto Mancini has created an Italian side, unafraid to seek and get the ball to create offensive forays, especially from the midfield trio of Jorginho, Marco Verratti, and Nicolo Barella have been steady and aggressive in the middle of the park while Lorenzo Insigne is a continuous threat down the left flank.
Luis Enrique has used Jordi Alba to stretch defenses down the left flank while Ferran Torres has hugged the sidelines, whilst receiving the ball and cutting inside the pitch while Alvaro Morata has improved his hold-up play and channel running as the tournament has progressed.
Will Italy seek to have more of the ball as they did against Belgium and play on the front foot or wait for counter-attacks to speed past Busquets, Pedri, and Koke, who are not blessed with an abundance of speed?
Both teams need their designated No.9s to play as well as they can-Morata for Spain and Ciro Immobile for Italy.
The absence of Leonardo Spinazzola for Italy is a major setback. The right-footed left-back playing defender was a major offensive weapon for the Italians until his injury against Belgium.
Lorenzo Pellegrini also misses out, while Alessandro Florenzi is also a doubt for the encounter, but Enrique’s only injury doubt is Pablo Sarabia.
02/09/17 WQE Spain 3 – 0 Italy
06/10/16 WQE Italy 1 – 1 Spain
27/06/16 EUC Italy 2 – 0 Spain
24/03/16 FRI Italy 1 – 1 Spain
05/03/14 FRI Spain 1 – 0 Italy
Trend to watch
These are the highest scorers in the tournament. Spain have scored 12 but conceded five while Italy have scored 11 times and conceded just twice.
What the managers are saying
“It will be difficult, even if Spain are different from Belgium. It will not be the same kind of game compared to the previous one, but it will present many difficulties for sure. Spain have been extraordinary for years, even if now there has been a change and they are a younger side. They have a good coach and very good players.”
– Roberto Mancini, Italy Manager
“I don’t think both of us can dominate, so it’ll be interesting to see who wins this tussle. Apart from having top players, Italy are a real team. They attack and defend as a unit, which is really similar to what we do. They also employ a high press, which it would be hard to imagine an Italian side from the past doing.”
– Luis Enrique, Spain Manager