Italy is getting ready to battle the world’s number one team, Spain, in the second round of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but injuries to Italy are forcing them to alter their normal strategy. Italy will be playing Spain on June 27 at 3 pm EST, and the winner of this game will face either Uruguay or Brazil for the Confederations Cup final. This game is the first match between the two European squads since the Euro finals in 2012, when Spain defeated Italy for the championship.
Italy will be facing an uphill battle against top-ranked Spain as they will be without star striker Mario Balotelli and defender Ignazio Abate for the remainder of the tournament; starters Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo are also doubtful for the match. Balotelli suffered a left thigh injury in Italy’s 4-2 loss to Brazil this past Saturday, making Italian coach Cesare Prendelli’s already difficult task of beating Spain even tougher. There are rumors that Prendelli will be adopting a three-man defense against Spain to combat their injuries. Italy used this system to earn a 1-1 draw against Spain previously in the 2012 Euro group stage.
Spain is coming into this game with a lot of momentum, coming off three group stage victories where they outscored their opponents by a score of 15-1. Italy went a more modest 2-1 in their three first-round games; however, Italy’s opponents were more highly regarded than Spain’s. Italy has been disappointed with their defensive efforts so far, after allowing eight goals in only three games. Italy has great talent on defense and goalie. Italy’s goalie Gianluigi Buffon, who is still regarded as one of the best goalies in the world even at age 35, said, “We’ve got to start conceding fewer goals. A team of our talent and skill level shouldn’t be making defensive errors like these.” Buffon is right, if Italy wants to have a chance to continue to the finals, they will have to figure out a way to overcome their injuries and stop making mistakes against the world’s top-ranked team this Thursday.
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Written by OSIA National Office Intern, Brandon Pinto. Pinto is a rising junior at the University of Maryland, majoring in communications.