Spain vs. Italy: Spaniards Will Cruise to Final with Mario Balotelli Sidelined

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIJune 26, 2013

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Fernando Torres of Spain (C) celebrates with Pedro (R) and Jordi Alba (L) as he scores their second goal during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group B match between Nigeria and Spain at Castelao on June 23, 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Italy doesn’t stand a chance against Spain when the two clubs face off on Thursday.

Spain has been the most dominant team at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and it has great odds of advancing to the final, even before news broke that Italy would be without one of the top players in the world.

Mario Balotelli will miss the remainder of the Confederations Cup with a thigh injury, according to BBC. Here’s what team doctor Enrico Castellacci said about the situation regarding the Italian striker:

The player cannot recover between now and the final on Sunday. We prefer not to take any risks.

In an agreement with the coach Cesare Prandelli, it was decided to send him back to Milan after speaking to the medical staff at AC Milan, who will look after him.

Coming into the semifinal match, Italy has been good but far from great. Italy won its first two games by one goal apiece—defeating Mexico 2-1 and Japan 4-3. Brazil showed the Italian’s who’s boss a few days ago, taking them down by a score of 4-2. While Italy is one of the four teams remaining, they’re far from the best.

B/R’s Joseph Zucker recently ranked the semifinalist clubs and put Italy at No. 4, citing the Balotelli injury and the team’s defensive issues. Italy has given up the third-most goals of any team in either group, behind Tahiti and Japan. Spain, on the other hand, has a commanding lead for the most goals scored.

Spain, however, did have the benefit of playing Tahiti, who allowed 10 goals during that match. Still, the Spanish have a lot of different players who can get the ball past the keeper, and Gianluigi Buffon will need to stand in his head in order to prevent an embarrassing loss.

Balotelli has accounted for two of Italy’s eight goals throughout its first three Confederations Cup matches. He and Javier Hernandez have been most of the team’s offense, and now that Balotelli is out, it seems unlikely that Italy is going to be able to put many goals on the scoreboard—or enough in order to come away with a victory.

Spain has never made it to the Confederations Cup final. The team’s best finish came four years ago, when it won the game for Third-Place.

This year is different, though. Spain is a much-improved team than back in 2009, and there’s no question that the Spanish will be the team advancing to the championship match. Italy had a chance with Balotelli in the lineup, but with him heading back home, Spain is guaranteed to come out victorious.

Last year in the Euro Cup final, Spain destroyed Italy, 4-0. Expect to see a similar score on Thursday afternoon when the two meet again.