Italy could lay claim to being one of the top five or six sides in world football at the moment.
Since Cesare Prandelli took over coaching duties following a disastrous 2010 World Cup for the "Azzurri," he has done extremely well to revitalize the side by injecting new blood, getting the best out of the mercurial Mario Balotelli and encouraging a more attacking brand of football.
The Italians shone at the European Championships in 2012, where they surprised many to reach the final
Then they played Spain and were eviscerated 4-0.
And it is hard to see how they have improved enough since then to reverse such a comprehensive result.
Despite regular proclamations that the era of Spanish dominance is coming to an end, Xavi and Co. will retain their status as the best team on the planet until someone else manages to prove otherwise.
Italy are very good, but they don't have the weapons to surprise Spain, especially with the news that the joker in their pack, Balotelli, has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a thigh injury.
To tell this story in a completely different way, if we were to compare football sides to Amazon-dwelling predators, Italy would be a crocodile and Spain a giant anaconda.
Sure, the crocodile is one of the most lethal animals in the river, and will chomp up just about every other creature who tries to challenge him, but once Spain the anaconda gets hold of you, sharp teeth and powerful tail become obsolete and ineffectual as your life is slowly squeezed away by the master suffocator.
Labored metaphors will abound as Spain crush the crocodile, sorry, Italy, into a 90-minute slow death.
Spain 2 - 0 Italy