Soccer UEFA Nations League - Play Offs
Spain vs Italy - Match Preview
⚽ 15 June 2023 - 18:45 GMT +0
New Spain manager Luis de la Fuente’s third game in charge sees him take his side to the De Grolsch Veste stadium in the Netherlands, as they gear up for a UEFA Nations League (UNL) semi-final tie against old foes Italy. It’s a replay of the 2021 UNL semi-final showdown, where Spain put an end to Italy’s world record 37-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win, only to lose the final to France by the same scoreline.
De la Fuente’s appointment was confirmed after Luis Enrique’s departure following a disappointing 2022 World Cup campaign, and his tenure got off to a flyer with a 3-0 win over Norway in Spain’s bid for Euro 2024 qualification. However, the harsh realities of senior international management set in for the former Under-19 and Under-21 coach, whose side then lost the following game 2-0 to Scotland, so he’ll be looking for a reaction against the Azzurri.
Things are looking up once again for the Italians after missing out on the 2022 World Cup, having topped a tough UNL Group that featured Germany, Hungary, and England to feature in the showpiece finals. Roberto Mancini will be looking to translate that form across all competitions, although like in opponents Spain, they could only manage a win and a loss from their opening two Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Before the last time, these teams met in the 2021 UNL semis, Mancini’s men got the best of their Spanish counterparts en route to winning the delayed Euro 2020. However, there is little to separate these juggernauts in their recent meetings, since the record of the last six ties is split evenly (W2, D2, L2), suggesting this could be another tight affair.
📋 Players to watch: Spain’s Álvaro Morata scored their 88th-minute winner against Portugal in their final UNL group game to get them here, with that being one of six times across his last seven international goalscoring outings he’s netted the match opener. Meanwhile, Italy’s future may lie in the hands of Mateo Retegui, whose international career has started with two goals in his first two appearances for the Azzurri.
⚡ Hot stat: Spain has seen the same half-time score replicated come full-time in ten of their last 12 matches.
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