The San Siro will play host to the first of the UEFA Nations League semi-finals on Wednesday night when European champions Italy take on Spain.
The Azzurri has emerged as arguably the best team on the planet over the last year, with Roberto Mancini taking over with the side having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and in crisis mode. Look at them now. Mancini's pedigree is beyond question now.
🎶 Setting the tone
Since beating England on penalties at the Euro 2020 final in the summer, Italy has drawn two of their subsequent three games. When these sides met in the semifinals of the European Championships, Spain was the better side for long periods and took control of the midfield battle, and the signs suggest that it should be another epic central contest.
🗞 Team news
Nicoló Barella, Marco Verratti and Jorginho are undoubtedly Mancini's first-choice central midfield trio, but the established order will be challenged by in-form duo Manuel Locatelli and Lorenzo Pellegrini. The same Azzurri XI that took to the pitch against England at Wembley might well start again here though, with plenty of options at Mancini's disposal from the bench.
Versatile Atlético Madrid man Marcos Llorente has withdrawn from the Spain squad through injury and been replaced by Tottenham's Bryan Gil. Marcos Alonso has received his first call-up since 2018 and will push Spurs man Sergio Reguilón for a spot at left-back with José Gayà and Jordi Alba both out. Villarreal's 18-year-old winger Yeremi Pino is also one worth looking out for.
Pedri was sensational against Italy in their semifinal battle at Euro 2020 but the Barcelona teenager isn't available. His 17-year-old clubmate Gavi is included though and in contention to start in the centre of the park alongside the experienced duo of Sergio Busquets and Koke.
🔮 Likely XIs
🇮🇹 Italy (4-3-3):
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
🇪🇸 Spain (4-3-3):
Simón; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Torres, Reguilón; Koke, Busquets, Gavi; Sarabia, Torres, Oyarzabal
European champions Italy are favourites, and rightly so, but a youthful Spain side can provide the element of surprise. Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri team is unbeaten in over three years and have shipped just five goals across their last 18 outings (W13-D5-L0). Back under 2.5 goals and Italy to qualify.
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