Italy will face might Spain in their second Euro 2024 match

On Thursday night, two of the biggest names in European football will square off in an attempt to qualify for the knockout stages of Euro 2024: Spain and Italy
Italy

(Football news) One extra point should be plenty for the defending champions and their Nations League rivals to advance after both Italy and Spain won their initial Group B match.

It was unimaginable for Spain’s coach Luis de la Fuente when his team left for their Euro 2024 opening at Berlin’s Olympiastadion to know that they would lead Croatia by three goals at the half.

Before the half, Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz, and Dani Carvajal all scored goals to get the campaign off to a great start. Morata achieved double figures in important events, while Carvajal became the oldest Spanish player to score at a European Championship.

Having also fielded the competition’s youngest player – 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, creator of La Roja’s third goal – and seen Unai Simon save a spot kick, a composed performance suggests they could be challengers for the trophy this summer.

European champions in 1964, 2008 and 2012, Spain’s hopes of adding a fourth continental crown to their collection are high, as they have now lost just one of 11 competitive games under De la Fuente, winning each of the last seven.

That represents their best run since 2017, and recent results against their next opponents in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ have been particularly positive.

While their Iberian counterparts have held the upper hand of late, Italy memorably overcame Spain on penalties three years ago, en route to Euro 2020 glory.

Since losing to La Roja in the Nations League last June, the new-look Azzurri have been beaten in only one of their next 12 matches – winning eight – and Luciano Spalletti has brought renewed vigour to a squad that had started to falter under Roberto Mancini.

However, Italy started the defence of their title in the worst possible fashion, before quickly recovering from an early blow in Saturday’s Group B clash against Albania to take maximum points.

Sassuolo’s Nedim Bajrami set a new Euros record for fastest goal ever – netting after just 23 seconds – but Spalletti’s side soon bounced back: Alessandro Bastoni levelled the scores 10 minutes later, before his Inter Milan teammate Nicolo Barella put them ahead.

Now unbeaten in 10 games at the European Championship – with the first match of that run being a 2-0 win over Spain in 2016 – Italy’s last defeat in the competition came against the Republic of Ireland eight years ago.

Though considered outsiders this summer, the Azzurri’s ultimate ambition is to become just the second team to win successive Euros, following in the footsteps of Spain. First, though, they must make sure of progress to the knockout phase.

Also read: England will play Denmark in their second match of the Euro 2024

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