U21 European Championship: Spain v Italy preview
Spain's formidable winning machine stand on the brink of another historical achievement in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Last Updated: 18/06/13 1:17pm
Spain's formidable winning machine stand on the brink of another historical achievement in Jerusalem on Tuesday (5pm).
If they manage to retain their European Under-21 title by overcoming Italy and do it by not conceding a goal, they will become the first side to complete five successive clean sheets in one finals competition.
It would be yet another remarkable feat for a country that has dominated the international game in recent years and are currently aiming to complete a clean sweep of senior titles at the Confederations Cup.
"We are a winning team," said Manchester United keeper David de Gea, one of five survivors from the Spain team that won the Under-21 title two years ago.
"It is a pleasure to play with these team-mates.
"We have been together for a long time and played a lot of games.
"That creates an understanding. We know how we want to play and we have done well."
It will be yet another positive for a player whose only significant setback of the last 12 months was being part of the Spain squad that so unexpectedly failed to fire at the London Olympics.
But coach Julen Lopetegui is aware that an Italy outfit for whom Liverpool's Fabio Borini scored the semi-final winner against Holland on Saturday will be a tough proposition.
"They are a team that still maintains the normal qualities of Italian football but have also taken a step forward in many other aspects of the game," he said.
"They have a great ability to create danger. It might be a different style to us but it is no less attractive or inventive."
Italy are looking for their first Under-21 title in nine years but coach Devis Mangia is just as keen that the more open style implemented at senior level by Cesare Prandelli is replicated within his own squad.
"It is essential," he said.
"We have always said winning is important, but the way you do it is more vital.
"I have heard a lot of people say Italy are a team that play good football. That is a good sign."