Spain and Italy will contest the second Confederations Cup semi final for the right to face Brazil in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro.
La Roja are expected to overturn Italy as they did in the final of last year’s European Championships, when they demolished the Azzurri 4-0 in Kiev.
Vincent del Bosque’s side were in inspired form that night, and the World and European champions should have enough to beat an Italy side that have looked strong, but far from imperious, in Brazil.
But imperious is exactly what Spain have been, and the team Del Bosque fields should give us some idea of his strongest line-up for the first time. The fact that David Silva, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, David Villa, Javi Martinez and Fernando Torres have been sitting games out emphasise the embarrassment of riches Spain possess.
Two players not mentioned above - Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta - are regular starters but are both yet to score in the tournament. Could this be the night? Fabregas is priced at 2.65 to score at anytime, while Iniesta is a very nice 3.40. Another potential scorer is Jordi Alba. The Barcelona left-back bagged six goals in all competitions last season and likes to bomb forward and join the attacks. He scored twice against Group B rivals Nigeria and is a very reasonable 20.00 to open the scoring, or 8.50 to find the net within the 90 minutes.
In the other locker room, Mario Balotelli’s absence will hamper an Italy side banking on Andrea Pirlo's return from injury. The Juventus man should make a comeback, but Italy look short of options in the attacking department. Giovinco and Gilardino offer adequate cover for Balotelli, but the faltering form of Stephan El Shaarawy is a cause for concern.
Expect Spain to dominate from the outset and, against a side that like to absorb the pressure, it’s well worth looking at Spain seeing over 60.5% of possession at 1.85.
Italy may score in this contest but, against a Spain side so prolific in front of goal, it’s worth backing Spain to win this by two or less goals at 2.20.
Best bet: Spain to win by two goals or less at 2.20