2013 Confederations Cup: Spain vs Italy - Preview
Fortaleza: Spain will be hoping for a repeat of their Euro 2012 final victory over a weakened Italy team when they meet at the Castelao in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.
Vicente del Bosque is expected to select Iker Casillas to start in goal despite using all three goalkeepers already in the tournament. However, Roberto Soldado and Cesc Fabregas are doubts for the meeting after sitting out training on Monday. Fernando Torres is favourite to start ahead of the Valencia striker while Juan Mata and David Silva will be in contention to replace the Barcelona star.
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli is expected to use a three-man defence following injuries to Mario Balotelli and Ignazio Abate, neither of whom will feature again in the competition.
Alberto Gilardino will therefore start in attack while Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo will return from suspension and injury respectively to form the heart of midfield. Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini will begin the game as wing-backs, wide of an all-Juventus back line.STAT ATTACK
• Spain secured back-to-back European Championship titles when they trounced Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012.
• Fernando Torres is currently the highest scoring player in the competition with five goals in three games.
• La Roja are the tournament`s most prolific team with 15 goals in three fixtures, though 10 of those came against minnows Tahiti.
• Italy hold the upper hand in previous meetings between the two nations`s with 10 wins to Spain`s nine in their 31 previous meetings.
• The Azzurri have already improved upon their performance in the 2009 edition of the Confederations Cup where they were eliminated in the group stage.
• Italy have only defeated Spain once in their previous eight encounters. That triumph came August 2011 when goals from Riccardo Montolivo and Alberto Aquilani secured a 2-1 win.
• Gianluigi Buffon will move to within four appearances of joining Fabio Cannavaro as the nation`s highest-capped player with 136 outings.