Italy have only risen as high as fifth place in FIFA’s world rankings despite their Euro 2020 success, with Spain slipping in the oppositive direction to eighth.
That’s despite the Azzurri now going unbeaten in 37 appearances since October 2018, a run that has seen them register 25 clean sheets, as Roberto Mancini’s side won 27 of these games over 90 minutes.
That does however include five stalemates in the last seven of these since the start of the knockout stages at Euro 2020 this summer, with one of those a victory on penalties against Spain themselves. Four of seven head-to-heads since 2013 have now ended in stalemates, including both clashes on Italian shores, with this encounter taking place in Milan.
Spain have only lost once in 17 matches since November 2020 over 90 minutes, but nine of these ended in draws and typically when taking on the better sides.
Indeed, six of their seven victories from this period came against either Georgia, Kosovo, Lithuania or Slovakia.
Meanwhile, facing decent or elite outfits Croatia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden or Switzerland, they’ve drawn 11 of 14 encounters since October 2019, with as many as nine of these games ending 1-1.
Roberto Mancini has seen a number players forced to withdraw, though for the most part these have been his back-up options as well. Centre-back Rafael Toloi and midfielder Matteo Pessina are unavailable, while Leonardo Spinazzola remains sidelined having suffered a long-term injury during their Euro 2020 campaign, so a familiar back four of Emerson, Chiellini, Bonucci and Lorenzo should feature in front of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Midfielders Lorenzo Pellegrini and Manuel Locatelli have been in good form, but Jorginho, Nicola Barella and Marco Verratti are expected to retain their places.
Italy And Spain To Draw
The team sheet shouldn’t spring too many surprises then, though while Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne will occupy the flanks, Mancini has a decision to make in the central striking role.
Ciro Immobile and Andrea Bellotti have both failed to make the role their own, and with both sidelined through injury, Moise Kean has been handed a call up and looks the most likely to get the nod.
Spain have also endured problems searching for a clinical marksman, with Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno failing to deliver this summer.
Those two are unavailable for this encounter, so Ferran Torres should get the opportunity to stake his claim, flanked by Pablo Sarabia and Mikel Oyarzabal with Dani Olmo sidelined too.
Italy And Spain To Draw 1-1
The midfield has been depleted with Liverpool’s Thiago, Barcelona’s Pedri and versatile Atletico Madrid player Marcos Llorente all missing out.
Pedri’s 17-year-old club teammate Gavi and Real Sociedad’s Mikel Merino appear the two most likely to fight it out for a starting spot alongside established duo Koke and Sergio Busquets.
Further back, Premier League duo Marcos Alonso and David De Gea will hope Luis Enrique hands them an opportunity following impressive performances for Chelsea and Man Utd respectively in the new campaign, though in all likelihood, both will have to settle for a place on the bench.
ITALY AND SPAIN TO DRAW
ITALY AND SPAIN TO DRAW 1-1