Spain v Italy preview
Vincente Del Bosque has ordered Spain to adopt the right mentality or risk running their opportunity to make history.
By Soriebah Kajue
Last Updated: 09/06/12 6:48pm
Spain coach Vincente Del Bosque has ordered his side to adopt the right mental approach or risk running their opportunity to make history.
The European champions, and current World Cup holders, will start their title defence against Italy on Sunday as they bid to become the first team to win three successive tournaments.
It would be a memorable feat, but one that the former Real Madrid coach feels can only be attained if they stay hungry.
He said: "We have an aim that no-one has ever achieved before and that is beautiful. We do have a lot of pressure because there is a lot of optimism that surrounds us.
"But we are accustomed to the pressure because we are defending the title and we are world champions.
"However, we cannot think that we are out of this world and we are going to win. It would be a huge mistake to have that attitude."
Del Bosque is set to start Alvaro Negredo ahead of Fernando Torres. Raul Albiol will replace Carles Puyol who misses the tournament through injury, while Gerard Pique will partner Sergio Ramos at the heart the defence.
Italy come into this tournament embroiled in yet another match-fixing scandal that has robbed coach Cesare Prandelli of key players.
However, the Italians won the World Cup in 2006 against a backdrop of a similar scandal and will draw confidence from their 3-0 friendly win over Spain last August.
Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli is out with a calf injury so Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi will play in a defensive role and he will play alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in Italy's back line.
Mario Balotelli is expected to be named alongside Antonio Cassano and Prandelli has challenged him to deliver.
He said: "I have asked Balotelli to do the talking on the pitch. He has an extraordinary opportunity and cannot throw it away."
Italy conceded just two goals during their qualifying campaign and their coach feels they should have no fear of their opponents.
He added: "Spain are very strong but we have beaten them and no team is invincible. I have a team with character, quality and willingness."