Del Bosque set to stick to tried and trusted methods
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE, the Spain coach, will not change his side’s approach when they take on Italy in their eagerly anticipated last-16 clash at Euro 2016.
The winners of the past two European Championships looked to be hitting top gear as they thrashed Turkey 3-0 in their second group game, but optimism was then tempered by an unexpected loss to Croatia.
That defeat saw the 2010 world champions slip to second in Group D and move into the other half of the knockout draw to face Italy in a repeat of the 2012 final.
Del Bosque said: “We lost our World Cup opener against Switzerland (in 2010) but hardly changed anything after.
“We played with the same players and in the same way, because it was the way we’d played that had got us there in the first place, and we weren’t going to rip up our plans because of one defeat to Switzerland. So we kept going and we intend to do that this time round.”
For another example of sticking to original plans, Del Bosque looked back to the last Euros when Spain swept away a group-stage draw with Italy to beat the same opponents 4-0 in the final.
He said: “Our first game was against While the Azzurri could rely on a solid defence featuring the likes of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi, they needed to step up the pressure in the second half as they needed a victory to book a place in the semi-final. The winner eventually came when Sampdoria’s Gianluca Vialli, set up by Carlo Ancelotti, scored with a low shot from the left-hand side of the box. Italy progressed from the group but their hopes were dashed in the semi-final by the USSR. Dino Baggio gave Italy a first-half lead but they struggled in the second period and Jose Luis Caminero’s equaliser gave Spain some momentum. But a moment of magic from Italy’s talisman Roberto Italy. They were better than us, but we drew and then we ended up beating none other than Italy in the final.
“We hardly changed anything in between on that occasion either, although coaches do obviously have to have a bit of flexibility so that they can make changes at any given moment.” Baggio saved his side two minutes from time, as he rounded off an Italy move by taking the ball past Spain goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta to score from a tight angle. That trio of tournament successes was completed in Kiev, against Italy. The sides had played out a 1-1 draw in the group stage but the rematch was far more one-sided. Spain gained an early lead after 14 minutes as David Silva headed into an early net following a terrific combination between Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas. With Italy carrying little threat to Iker Casillas’ goal, Jordi Alba made it two before half-time, with two late goals rounding off the scoring.
Spain are unbeaten in their last five matches with Italy and also ousted them at Euro 2008, with victory on penalties in the quarter-finals. Their last meeting saw them draw 1-1 in a friendly in Udine in March and they will also face each other again in World Cup qualifying in October.
Del Bosque seems unlikely to make major changes to his side either, with goalkeeper David De Gea, who was criticised after the Croatia loss, expected to continue.
Italy, beaten by the Republic of Ireland in their last pool match, are without midfielder Antonio Candreva because of a thigh injury while 10 of their squad are only one booking away from a suspension.
Alessandro Florenzi is expected to take over from Candreva on the right and, unlike Del Bosque, coach Antonio Conte could make changes with reports suggesting a switch from 3-5-2 to 3-4-3.
Conte sounded the rallying cry on the eve of the match as he dismissed the Spain result against Croatia to cast his side as underdogs.
At his pre-match press conference, the Chelsea-bound Conte said: “We’re prepared. We’ve worked hard. We’re not here just to make up the numbers.
“If we reason, we will lose. We need to go beyond reason and get that thing out of us which makes us extraordinary.
“I know I’ve got a group of extraordinary lads who are ready to face this last-16 game which, on paper, is an uphill struggle.
“You’ve got to try to work to upset the odds. I think this is the beauty of football and of life – overcoming the odds.”
OLD HABITS DIE HARD: Spain manager Vicente del Bosque will not tinker with his side’s approach ahead of Italy clash