Euro 2024

Spain v Italy: Attacking football can produce goals in 9/2 Gelsenkirchen Bet Builder

Alvaro Morata celebrates finding the net for Spain
Spain captain Alvaro Morata got off to a scoring start versus Croatia

Ahead of Group B's most attractive fixture, Jamie Kemp is expecting Spain and Italy to deliver on the attacking front, with no shortage of goals...

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Spain v Italy
Thursday 20 June, 20:00
Live on ITV 1

Attacking intent will animate MD2 clash

Most spectators would have agreed Italy played some lovely football against Albania, but manager Luciano Spalletti was less enthused with their return on the night.

"We saw lots of good play out there but it has to get you somewhere, because if it doesn't it's no use to anyone," he told the broadcaster RAI. "Sometimes it's easy to get comfortable in how you're playing but instead you need to be aggressive, hungry to create more and try to score that extra goal."

If that's anything to go by, the signs are pretty good for those tuning in hoping for an exciting game on Thursday night.

Italy were fluent against Albania and produced plenty of nice passages of play, yet there'll clearly be an onus on being more ruthless on matchday two. And as for Spain, their 3-0 win against Croatia showed they've got plenty of firepower in their ranks ready to attack the tournament.

Both teams will want to play this game on their own terms, which should mean both looking to be aggressive in recovering the ball. Indeed, Italy won't be the type to be submissive against Spain and merely accept that La Roja will have possession, in-keeping with the long-held stereotype.

In fact, Spain actually had less possession than their opponents in their win over Croatia - something that hadn't happened in a competitive game since the EURO 2008 final against Germany. Don't take that to mean that Luis de la Fuente's side are fallible or unable to retain the ball though - it's a sign they're built to be more adaptable and a threat in transition too.

With the attacking resources on both sides and the ambition of both managers to be dominant on the pitch, I expect we won't be short on goals in this one. Spain's last seven games have seen an average of 4.1 goals scored (22 for, seven against), while Italy's last six competitive fixtures have seen a similarly high average at 3.5 goals (14 scored, seven conceded).

Along with over 2.5 goals in the game, I'll add in 1+ shot on target for Alvaro Morata - a goalscorer on matchday one versus Croatia. The Spanish centre forward has had 13 shots on target in 12 starts in the Luis de la Fuente era, including netting six goals across his last nine matches when starting.

Both sides will be conscious of cutting opposition rhythm

With Spain and Italy being two of the best at EURO 2024 for zipping the ball around, I expect both coaches will be keen to make the most of cutting the play here. Smaller, less risky fouls earlier on in moves seems like the logical play for trying to unsettle the opposition and stop one side taking over the possession battle.

At the same time, I imagine we'll see plenty of defenders looking to nip in front of attacking players and limit time on the ball for the difference makers. Both Spain and Italy are packed with aggressive, front-footed defenders and in the battle to assert the upper hand, having a back line who can successfully squeeze up the pitch will be an essential factor.

One player to take special note of in this context is Spain's Robin Le Normand. The 27-year-old has rapidly become a favourite of Luis de la Fuente's, with his coach clearly enamoured by the old-school defensive characteristics that typify his game. That he's currently in negotiations for a move to Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid also gives you a pretty clear idea of the type of player we're talking about.

Le Normand loves a physical battle and he's used to playing in an aggressive team who push high up the pitch at club level too. Real Sociedad are the kings of the tactical foul in La Liga, and that mentality carries over with the national team as well. He's made seven fouls across his last three Spain starts, including bookings in two of them.

Spanish La Liga - Top 5 Fouls

Along with 2+ fouls for Le Normand here, I'll also add in Federico Dimarco to make at least one. The Internazionale wing back isn't a serial fouler by any means, but in a game where Italy are unlikely to dominate possession and given the emphasis of attacking down the wings by Spain, I think he'll find himself with more individual defending to do here.

Dimarco has made a foul in three of his last five international games, and is likely to be up against teenage phenomenon Lamine Yamal here. The Barcelona winger has attempted 32 dribbles in his five starts for Spain, which works out at a staggering 7.6 per 90 in the matches he's played as a starter.

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