Spain look to write a new chapter; Italy want to get back on track

June 15 – Spain and Italy will renew their rivalry tonight in the second semi-final of the Nations League Finals.

Both sides seeking to put recent disappointments behind them.

Spain’s coach Luis de la Fuente goes into the encounter under pressure after Spain stuttered in the Euro 2024 qualifiers in March with a surprise 2-0 defeat at the hands of Scotland.

“Game after game, we will move closer to the style and image we want to see, but I’m really positive about this team,” said De la Fuente at a news conference. “In all activities of life, the more movements you repeat, the more you internalise it.”

De la Fuente replaced Luis Enrique who departed following a disappointing round-of-16 exit at the World Cup. He has not yet settled on his starting eleven, but the new manager relishes the opportunity to face Italy and compete for a prize.

“Playing a semi-final against Italy is an opportunity,” said the Spain coach. “The important thing is the game we have tomorrow. It is enough motivation to think that we can write our own history. Winning a title would be a good opportunity to start a new story.”

Opponents Italy missed out on a second consecutive World Cup and did not start the Euro 2024 qualifiers on the front foot with a 2-1 defeat to England followed by a 2-0 win against Malta.

“We have reached the Nations League finals for the second time and it’s a good achievement, especially because we played the group stage with several youngsters,” said Mancini. “Winning the trophy would be very important, obviously, and we will certainly give our best.”

The Italy manager did not reveal his starting eleven. “Ciro Immobile had several injuries after the last Euros. Now he is fit and I’m happy to have him here. I have seen Nicolo Zaniolo doing very well in training, he has a chance to play. Maybe Federico Chiesa does not have 90 minutes in his legs but his form has improved a lot,” added Mancini.

In the 2021 Nations League Finals, Spain ended Italy’s run of 37 unbeaten games, but Italy won the more important fixture between the two teams, defeating the Iberian side in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 en route to their first European championship title since 1968. In 2012, Spain thumped Italy 4-0 to clinch their second European championship.

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