Group E Winners Italy will face Spain in Monday’s early Round of 16 clash at the Stade de France, with it already being decided that the winners will face Germany in the quarter-finals.
Both teams have performed well in the competition so far and qualified from their group with two wins and a loss.
Aside to their defeat against the Republic of Ireland, the Italians have been one of the better teams in this competition and their defence was impenetrable in their games against Belgium and Sweden.
Spain meanwhile have also been largely impressive and will be looking to bounce back following a 2-1 defeat to Croatia.
Vicente Del Bosque’s side is arguably one of the best in this competition and eased past Turkey and Czech Republic. The only question mark about their performances will be around goalkeeper David de Gea after he was beaten at his near post twice.
Monday evening’s game could easily be the best and most exciting game of this competition so far as these two international giants go head-to-head.
This game will be incredibly close, but whilst Spain may just about edge it on paper, they have struggled in the past against teams that press high and play three at the back.
For Italy, discipline will be crucial as key men Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Eder and Thiago Motta are all carrying a yellow card and, if they are to progress to the next round, these players will need to get through this game without picking up a card.
They usually perform better against sides that like to dominate possession, but they have struggled against the Spanish in recent years.
The Italians have failed to beat Spain in their last five meetings, with their last victory over La Roja coming back in 2011. The two teams last met in an international friendly that finished 1-1, and in this competition, this will be the fourth time that these sides have met in the last three tournaments.
Spain knocked Italy out on penalties in the 2008 quarter-finals following a 0-0 draw, and four years later they defeated them 4-0 in the final to lift the trophy.
They also met in the opening game of EURO 2012, where they drew 1-1.
Italian coach Antonio Conte is expected to revert to the team that fared so well in their opening group games, with the only unavailable player being Lazio’s Antonio Candreva.
The winger is still recovering from a hamstring injury that he picked up in the second group game against Sweden and will likely be replaced by Roma’s Alessio Florenzi.
Meanwhile opposing manager Del Bosque has no injury concerns or players missing through suspension and will field the strongest possible line-up after making some changes in the defeat against Croatia.
Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin could replace Juanfran at right-back after a disappointing outing in his last game, whilst Thiago Alcantara may just edge out Cesc Fabregas.
FIFA World Ranking: Italy – 12th; Spain– 6th
Best European Championship Finish: Italy– Winners (1968); Spain– Winners (1964, 2008, 2012)
Previous Meeting: Italy 1-1 Spain – March 24, 2016 (International Friendly)
Form: Italy – LWWWWL; Spain– WWLWWL
Key Men: Italy – Leonardo Bonucci; Spain – Andres Iniesta
Shoot Says: Italy 1-2 Spain (AET)