Spanish juggernaut to roll on against injury hit Italy

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Spain or Italy is a common debate between couples trying to escape the British ’summer’ at the travel agents. It’s also the question facing football connoisseurs before the second Confederations Cup semi-final.

This clash is a re-run of the Euro 2012 Final, where Spain ran out comfortable 4-0 winners and with not a lot having changed over the past year, pre-tournament favourites La Roja, looked nailed on to progress at 2/5.

The World and European champion’s scored 15 goals and conceded just one in the group stages, extending their world record unbeaten run to 28 games in the process.

The only blip on their horizon are possible injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Roberto Soldado but it’s safe to say, for a squad with as much depth as theirs, this isn’t a major issue.

So what chance Italy? Not a lot according to the bookmakers who have priced them at 7/1.

This may seem a long price especially when we look at the historical head-to-head record between these sides. Of the 27 games they have contested since 1924, they have eight wins each with the remaining games drawn.

But in the 21st century, Spain have only lost one of their seven meetings and perhaps more crucially Cesare Prandelli’s plans have been disrupted by injuries.

Mario Balotelli, who has scored twice in the tournament and looked by far and away Italy’s most dangerous player, has been sent home after a muscle strain made his continued participation impossible.

Also struggling, to be fit, is the pass master Andrea Pirlo. A calf ailment kept this crucial player out of the 4-2 defeat to Brazil and his participation against the Spaniards remains doubtful.

With this uncertainty hanging over the Azzurri and Spain’s imperious form showing no sign of abating, Vincent del Bosque’s side with a -1 handicap is very tempting at evens.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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