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Details: June 10, PGE Arena, Gdansk, Poland
It's the group's biggest match, and, fortunately for us, it comes immediately.
Spain boast the world's best midfield, but in Andrea Pirlo (pictured), Italy boast a world-class, game-changing midfielder of their own. The battle in the middle of the park will excite the tactical geeks, but most of the action will likely lie in Italy's area.
As ever, Spain will pass around, at, through and all over their opponents, holding the ball for several minutes per possession. Also as ever, Italy will bring an organized, resolute defense that every opposing team will find difficult to break down.
If the match plays out as expected—with Spain dominating possession and Italy defending and trying to counter—it could set up an intriguing battle of wills: Spanish tic-tac against Italian defending.
If so, the club season could provide a clue as to the outcome.
Several of Spain's big names suffered ignominious European exits this season when their teams faced supposedly inferior sides. Barcelona's vaunted passing game failed to break through Chelsea's all-out defensive posture, and Real Madrid's thrilling, high-scoring offense met its match in a technically and tactically strong Bayern Munich.
So, can Italy do something similar?
Gianluigi Buffon remains among the world's top keepers at age 34. But the question is whether the defense is good enough.
The loss to Russia on Friday suggests not, and the match-fixing scandal surrounding the team will surely serve as a distraction. But a similar scandal engulfed Italy six years ago, and that only seemed to galvanize the Azzurri.
Mike's pick: It's hard to call. Italy will play better defensively than they did against Russia, but it's hard to bet against Spain so early.
Spain 1-0 Italy