FIFA Confederations Cup Semifinal: Spain vs Italy

2013 FIFA Confederations Cup Semifinal
Spain vs Italy
Thursday, June 27, 2013, 3:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Estadio Castelao – Fortaleza, Brazil
All Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
Betting Line: Spain -1 1/2 +120 / Italy +1 1/2 -150
Total: Over 2 1/2 -135 / Under 2 1/2 +105
Three Way Line: Italy +685 / Spain -285 / Draw +360
(includes regular and stoppage time, but not overtime or shootout for all three wagers)

Spain is a heavy favorite against Italy in the Confederations cup semifinals Thursday.
Spain is a heavy favorite against Italy in the Confederations cup semifinals Thursday.

Spain is unbeaten in 28 straight competitive matches and has won 2 straight European titles and is also the defending World Cup Champions. Spain is trying to add an unprecedented fourth straight major FIFA title to their trophy case as they play Italy in the semifinals of the FIFA Confederations Cup. The winner will play host Brazil in the Final Sunday after Brazil beat Uruguay 2-1 in the first semifinal Wednesday.

Italy leads the series 10-9-12 against Spain. However, Spain won the last meeting in the Championship game of Euro 2012. La Roja was dominant in a 4-0 rout against the Azzuri in Kiev, Ukraine last July.

Italy finished second with 6 points in Group A of the Confederations Cup to Brazil, who had 9 points. Italy opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over Mexico, and then beat Japan 4-3 despite trailing 2-0 in the first half. Italy lost to Brazil 4-2 in the last game of the group stage.

Spain has been dominant so far in the Confed Cup outscoring their opponents by a combined 15-1. Spain beat Uruguay   2-1 in the first game and then obliterated poor hapless Tahiti 10-0. Spain started many of their second stringers in the Tahiti game. La Roja then clinched first place in Group B with a 3-0 win over Nigeria.  Spain was upset by the United States in the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinals and looks to atone for that loss against their rivals.

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli who is normally mild mannered lit into his team after some lackluster efforts in friendlies and World Cup qualifyers. Italy will use a 4-3-1-2 attack. Italy will be without striker Mario Balotelli, who is out with a strained thigh muscle. Italy will also likely be without fullback Ignazio Abate and midfielder Andrea Pirlo.  Stephan El Shaarawy missed the games against Mexico and Japan with a muscle strain but came in as a late sub against Brazil. He will start against Spain. Keeper Gianluigi Buffon is a top netminder, but the 36 year old is getting a bit long in the tooth.

Spain is led by manager Vicente del Bosque. Still, La Roja is loaded with names such as Javi Martinez, David Villa, Pedro and Fernando Torres. Spain will likely be without Cesc Fabregas and Roberto Soldado, but is is very nice to have world class players such as Villa and Torres as replacements. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas returns from and injury that kept him on the shelf for over four months. Spain has used all three goalkeepers on the roster in the tournament.

Italy will want to avenge their humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Spanish last year, but I don’t know if they can as short handed as Italy is. Spain has injuries of their own but they are so much deeper than Italy. Still I think Spain wins    3-0 but Italy could score a goal. That will set up the Spain-Brazil match-up everyone wanted to see before the tournament started.

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