Italy v Spain, Monday June 27
Paris, Live on BBC - 5pm
Italy meet Spain on Monday afternoon at the Stade de France (BBC, 5pm) in a match fit for any major final, but in this instance the chance to meet Germany in the quarter finals of Euro 2016. Both teams suffered somewhat surprising defeats in their final group matches and in Spain’s case their defeat cost them the opportunity of a relatively straightforward pathway to the final of Euro 2016.
It’s hard to place much blame on to the shoulders of Italy, however. Having opened their Euro 2016 campaign with two victories they were already guaranteed top spot in group E, and it came as little surprise when Antonio Conte elected to rest key players for their match against Ireland.
Robbie Brady’s 85th minute header clinched a deserved with for Martin O’Neill’s men but in truth few will read too much into that game given the nine changes made to the Italian first XI for that match. Returning to side for this one will be Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, but upfront Conte will have to chose between match-winner against Sweden, Eder, the Southampton hitman Graziano Pellè and the Juventus striker Simone Zaza, who has really impressed in the limited game time he’s seen.
Spain lost their final group match in breathless fashion, when Ivan Perisic scored a late winner to had a 2-1 victory to Croatia. Before that, Alvaro Morata opened the scoring before Spain were pegged back by a Nikola Kalinic goal on the stroke of half time. In the second half Sergio Ramos wasted the opportunity to put Spain back in the lead from the penalty spot before Perisic struck in the 87th minute to send Croatia through as group winners.
Ahead of this game Vicente Del Bosque may look to freshen up the Spanish midfield with the Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke rumoured to replace Cesc Fabregas and take his place alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.
This match really could be a case of beauty and the beast, as the elegance of Spain’s passing comes up against one of the most resolute defences in world football. The Juventus defensive quartet of Cheiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli and Buffon will relish the challenge posed by the Spanish, and you feel that the longer those four can keep Spain at bay, the more doubt will creep into the heads of the Spanish.
I really fancy extra time and penalties in this one and penalties are available at If the game goes the distance, I would back the outstanding Gianluigi Buffon to be the hero. He is to be named man of the match, and he’s still available at to be named player of the tournament.
- A goal to be scored from the 81st minute to the end of regular time @
- A Morata to outscore G Pelle in 90 mins play (both players must start) @
- The game to go to penalties @
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