In a loaded bottom half of the Euro 2016 round-of-16 draw, Italy’s battle with Spain is the first in a line of heavy-hitting tussles from the first knockout round.
Germany, France and England also share this side of the draw with Gli Azzurri and La Roja, meaning the path for any of the five to reach the final will be as thorny as an overgrown country walk.
For the first of the many headline acts that are to come, Spain are favoured to prevail at odds of 23/20 versus 7/2 about the Italians. The draw can be backed with us at 2/1.
This is the third European Championships in succession that the pair have met at. The run started in the quarter-finals at Euro 2008 before Euro 2012 saw the rivals clash twice, in the group stage and later on in the final.
The omens are good for Vicente del Bosque’s men, who are yet to be defeated by their Italian rivals and went on to lift the trophy at both tournaments.
Two of the three games at the finals ended level, with both falling short of the 2.5-goal mark. The final four years ago stands out as a bit of anomaly, with La Roja running out 4-0 winners.
In general, though, this fixture has tended to be one of tight margins and few strikes.
Eight of the last 10 matches have contained less than three goals, including all of the previous three and we go 1/3 that the run is extended into a fourth outing.
However, if that price isn’t particularly appealing a dabble in the correct score market may prove more effective.
In their run of eight under-2.5-goal games, Italy and Spain have played out five draws. We offer 9/2 that this latest meeting finishes 0-0 after 90 minutes, while it’s a 5/1 chance that there’s a goal apiece by the end of regulation.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.