Key Battles as Cesare Prandelli's Italy Take on Vicente Del Bosque's Spain

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Key Battles as Cesare Prandelli's Italy Take on Vicente Del Bosque's Spain
Oliver Lang/Associated Press
Italy take on Spain in Madrid on Wednesday evening as to seek revenge for the Euro 2012 final

All that is necessary is to mutter "Italy versus Spain" and from those three words, one conjures up images of epic encounters and thoughts of pulsating play. In this week's round of international matches, the two meet again, with both bidding to gain a morale boost ahead of the fast-approaching World Cup.

It is now less than 100 days until the 20th World Cup begins and this round of international friendlies will go some way to showing who is looking superior and who is looking shaky. Italy and Spain are hailed as two of the favourites to be crowned championsthis encounter will see who has the stronger case.

We have to rewind only to last summer for when these two titans most recently met, in the Confederations Cup. The scene was set: It was the semi-finals and a tense goal-less draw had just been played. In the ensuing penalty shootout, La Furia Roja held their nerve to win 7-6.

It was the year before though, in Euro 2012, where they really tested each other's credentials. First there was the 1-1 stalemate in the group stage, with neither team willing to throw too much caution to the wind, before then meeting again in the final.

The stakes were high for both teams, with Italy wanting to rid themselves of recent mediocrity and Spain seeking to not just retain their title of European Champions but also add it to their World Cup victory of 2010. Eventually, Spain recorded an emphatic 4-0 victory.

Prior to that, there had been the quarter-final at the 1994 World Cup in USA, when Dino and Roberto Baggio put on a virtuoso display to defeat Javier Clemente's Spain 2-1 in the dramatic balmy air of Massachusetts.

You get the picture: These two teams are incapable of not putting on a show. It will also have a poignant aspect to it, being the first time the Spanish national team has played since the recent loss of former coach Luis Aragones.

Whilst this friendly does have all the hallmarks of a heavyweight bout, there will also be some notable omissions. Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has opted to leave out Chelsea's Fernando Torres and Manchester United's Juan Mata, whilst his counterpart Cesare Prandelli did not include Roma's Daniele De Rossi—the subject of a three-game ban for punching Inter's Mauro Icardi—whilst Milan's Mario Balotelli is nursing an injury.

This game will be won, and lost, in the micro-battles which engulf all areas of the pitch. Let's now take a look at five of those key battles and deduce who may emerge victorious.

This list has been compiled by examining the squads of both teams, assessing which players may play and also looking at this season's statistics of respective players.

 

Football stats procured from WhoScored.comSquawka and Soccerway.

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