As the club football season comes to an end, the football caravan will turn to international football with Spain against Italy in the semi-finals of the Nations League.
In recent outings, Spain have had very wayward performances, but they have fought their way up in Nations League this time around. Spain topped the charts with 3 wins, 2 draws, 1 draw to finish with 11 points in a tough group with Switzerland and Portugal.
Because of retirements of players like Sergio Busquets and a new manager, Spain are different unit this time around compared to when they played last time around. Luis de la Fuente is taking over as the new manager for Spain following the departure of Luis Enrique. When it comes to Spain's squad for this match, they have a pretty young line-up. Pedri, who is injured, is among the big names missing from the squad. Once again, goalscoring will be a major issue and the burden will fall on Morata and Asensio.
The Italians, on the other hand, are also looking for redemption after missing out on the World Cup in 2022. Although they won Euro 2020, Italy failed to take advantage of the momentum. They were placed in the group of death with England, Germany, and Hungary alongside, but Italy topped the group with 11 points. Although they have shown signs of brilliance under Robert Mancini, they have been lacking in consistency. The last time they played was during the March window, when they lost to England in a rematch of the Euro 2020 final, but won a friendly match against Malta.
Mancini has brought back two familiar faces to the Italian squad for these knockout games. Mattia Zaccagni and Nicolò Zaniolo have made it into the cut after being cut last time. Sandro Tonali will be a major absence for them as he prepare to participate in the Under-21 European Championship.
The Italians did not call up Fiorentina, Inter Milan, and West Ham United players who participated in the European finals. As a result, they will be without key players like Bastoni, Barella, Brozovic, and Emerson Palmieri.
Among the oldest and fiercest rivalries in football history, the Italian versus Spanish rivalry dates back to the beginning of international football. Over the past year, Spain has dominated Italy in recent meetings. The last 11 meetings have ended with four victories by Spain, two by Italy, and two draws.
The Nations League semi-final between Spain and Italy will be aired on Viaplay Sports 1 in UK
Expert Insight: Italy and Spain have both fought their way to the semi-finals against all odds. Italy will miss key players like Bastoni due to the clash with the European finals, which is expected to play a major role in this semi-final. Italy has a strong team, but its absence of key players may hinder their performance. However, Spain are under a new manager and they still need to adapt to his tactics properly. The match will be neck-to-neck contest similar to an intense chess battle.