Spain vs. Italy – Confederations Cup Match Semifinals Preview and Betting Pick, Castelo, Brazil 3 PM EST Thursday June 27, 2013
by Jason Green, Soccer Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Spain 1.36 / Italy 8.00 / Draw 4.75
Moneyline: Spain -275 / Italy +700 / Draw +375
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
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Spain faces Italy in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup where the winner will take on the winner of the Uruguay vs. Brazil match for the title.
Spain had a pretty easy time in qualifying for the semifinals and after their opening 2-1 win over Uruguay they went on to beat Tahiti 10-0 and Nigeria 3-0. The same cannot be said for Italy, who beat Mexico and Japan before losing to Brazil 4-2. Italy was solid on offense in the group stage, but gave up 8 goals in 3 matches.
Italy may have a little revenge on their minds since they lost in the 2012 European Championships 4-0 to Spain in the championship match.
One big blow to the Italians is that they will be without striker Mario Balotelli, who was injured in the Brazil match. Also, Ignazio Abate and Riccardo Montolivo were also injured in the loss to Brazil and are out for this big match. The loss of Balotelli is a big one, as he is the Italians go-to striker that instills fear in any opposing defense.
Cesc Fabregas is nursing a muscle injury and if he cannot go in this match Davild Silva will get the call. Both of these players are great scorers and no matter who plays for Spain the Italians must play much better defense than they did in the group stage.
Spain holds a record of 8 wins, 11 draws, and 8 losses against Italy and since 1998 they have only lost 1 time.
Spain has a great midfield and with their quickness and passing ability they will give the Italians, who lack speed, fits. The Italians have to play better in the midfield than they did in the loss to Brazil and keep attacks happening before they start in that area of the field. Spain do not make many errors and when they do Italy will have to pounce on them and really look for counter-attack chances.
Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets move the ball quickly in the midfield to set up the front players of Roberto Soldado and Pedro Rodrguez. MF Andrea Pirlo is not a spring chicken any longer and will need help in the middle against a formidable Spanish midfield.
Italy will have to use directed attacks against the quicker Spanish squad and if they sit back and wait for mistakes it may cost them. Italy is the major underdog in this match and look for them to use a more attacking style in this match.
World Cup winner and Juventus G Gianluigi Buffon has a tall task in this match. He has not looked great in the Confederations Cup so far, but the defense has not helped him much. He must have a great match, as Spain will get their chances.
Italy Recent Form
6/7/2013 Czech Republic 0 Italy 0 (WC Qualifying)
6/11/2013 Italy 2 Haiti 2 (Friendly)
6/16/2013 Mexico 1 Italy 2 (Confederations Cup)
6/19/2013 Italy 4 Japan (Confederations Cup)
6/22/2013 Italy 2 Brazil 4 (Confederations Cup)
Spain Recent Form
6/8/2013 Spain 2 Haiti 1 (Friendly)
6/11/2013 Spain 2 Ireland 0 (Friendly)
6/16/2013 Spain 2 Uruguay 1 (Confederations Cup)
6/20/2013 Spain 10 Tahiti 0 (Confederations Cup)
6/23/2013 Nigeria 0 Spain 3 (Confederations Cup)
Jason’s Pick to Win: Italy goes into this match not in full form and thin in their lineup. That is not good facing a Spanish team that is the best in the world. I think the Italians will play Spain tough in the first half, but they will not sustain their play for the entire match. Spain simply has too much firepower and their midfield is just too good. On top of that facing a suspect Italian defense all things point to a Spain win. Spain will not blow Italy out like in the finals of the 2012 Euro, but they will win by a score of 3-1.