After an exciting opening semi-final match between South American rivals Brazil and Uruguay, the second pre-final tune-up should be just as good with two of Europe’s finest squaring off on Thursday. The reigning European and World champions Spain will take on the Azzurri from Italy in what is a rematch of the Euro 2012 final game. Throughout this tournament Spain have once again looked flawless in their execution. It is truly a ‘Golden Age’ for this country with regard to soccer and they’ve won pretty much every international tournament there is to win – except for this one. This group remains highly motivated, and with a trip to the finals on the line against the host nation Brazilians, expect a thrilling affair between these longtime European rivals.
Yesterday’s selection resulted in a push as we were on the Over 3.0 goals in the contest between Brazil and Uruguay. As expected there were a ton of scoring chances and wide-open play, but a missed Diego Forlan penalty derailed our wager. Read on below for another official selection and game thoughts for Spain vs. Italy.
Spain (-300) / Draw (+385) / Italy (+750)
Over 3.0 (+100) / Under 3.0 (-130)
Under Vicente del Bosque’s guidance, the Spanish national team has encountered very little bumps along their path to world soccer dominance. They’ve cruised at international tournaments of late and the opening phase of the 2013 Confederations Cup has been no different. Spain scored 15 goals in their first three matches, conceding just once. They look dominant once again and will pose real problems for a banged-up Italy squad that looked overmatched against Brazil this past Saturday.
Italy enters this key semi-final game with something to prove – that they can beat Spain. The Spanish have especially had Italy’s number over the past few years, and though it is time for the Azzurri to make a statement, they don’t seen in the right form to do so. Star striker Mario Balotelli is injured and out of the tournament, a huge loss for a side that lacks firepower up front. In addition to that, their usually stingy defense leaked goals in the group stage by allowing eight in just three matches. They looked mediocre against Mexico and Japan, and were out-classed in every way against Brazil. If they don’t raise their level of play against a red-hot Spanish side, the Italians will get laughed out of the stadium. One area that should improve is their midfield play, as star players Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi return to the fold. The duo are arguably Italy’s most vital players and if the Azzurri are to pull off the upset, De Rossi and Pirlo will need to be at the top of their games.
Spain routed Italy in the Euro 2012 finals, winning by a dominant 4-0 score-line. Since then, not much has changed by way of personnel of tactics with La Roja. Spain plays a hypnotizing brand of soccer, relying on increased periods of ball possession and meticulously planning their scoring chances. Their speed with and without the ball is mesmerizing and their attacking and finishing qualities remain unmatched. Spain’s biggest weakness can at times be themselves, but this is a focused group that really wants to add the Confederations Cup title to its illustrious trophy case.
Italy don’t have the firepower up front without Balotelli to pressure the Spaniards. Spain will be able to control the ball at will, and though Pirlo and De Rossi will do their best, they simply cannot match-up with the ball movement of Spain. The midfield trio of Sergio Busquests, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta will overwhelm the Italians, as their precise ball movement and runs will give the Azzurri fits. They possess excellent chemistry together and are simply the best in the world. Expect Italy to try and defend at will, but ultimately the Spaniards will prevail and break through. While betting Spain normally inside the 90 minutes doesn’t provide good value, consult with the additional team props listed for the match on Bovada/Bodog. Look for the Spaniards to get a lead in the first half and hold onto that through the duration of the game. Thus, the betting market of Spain leading both at half-time and full-time represents solid value in this fixture. An out-of-form Italian squad will be no match for a motivated and hungry Spanish team ready to add yet another feather to its cap.
PICK = Spain HT/FT (-110) *Meaning Spain will be leading both at half-time, and full-time