Italy Vs Spain, UEFA Euro 2024 Preview: Rivalry Renew In Fifth Consecutive European Championship Encounter

Italy survived a scare against Albania when Nedim Bajrami scored after 23 seconds - the fastest goal in Euros history. Now, they are gearing up to face Spain for the fifth consecutive time in European Championship

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Spain's Mikel Oyarzabal takes part in a training session at his base camp in Donaueschingen, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, ahead of their Group B soccer match against Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Defending champion Italy plays Spain on Thursday in one of the most anticipated games at Euro 2024. (Streaming | More Football News)

Spain leads Group B ahead of Italy on goal difference after both teams won their opening games. Croatia and Albania are the other teams in the group.

Kick-off is at 9 pm local (1900 GMT) in Gelsenkirchen. Here's what to know about the match:

Match facts

— Italy survived a scare against Albania when Nedim Bajrami scored after 23 seconds - the fastest goal in Euros history. A 2-1 come-from-behind win avoided embarrassment for Luciano Spalletti's team.

— There were no such concerns for Spain after a dominant 3-0 win against World Cup semi-finalist Croatia.

— Italy beat Spain on penalties in the semi-finals of the last Euros after a 1-1 draw through extra time at Wembley Stadium. The team, then coached by Roberto Mancini, also needed penalties to beat England in the final.

— Build up to the last game in Gelsenkirchen - Serbia vs. England - had been overshadowed by concerns about fan violence. Eight people were temporarily detained following a brawl between fans. There has been less focus on potential security issues ahead of this game.

Team news

— Spain defender Aymeric Laporte has resumed training with the squad following a muscular issue.

— Italian media has speculated about Spalletti making changes ahead of the Spain game and the potential for Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante to be brought into his starting line-up.

By the numbers

— This is the fifth Euros in a row that Spain and Italy have met, with two wins each going into Thursday's match.

— With 46% of possession against Croatia, Spain failed to dominate the ball for the first time in 136 competitive games.

— Italy is going for a record-equalling third European Championship title. Spain and Germany have also won three titles. Italy could also become only the second team to win back-to-back Euros after Spain in 2008 and 2012

— At 16 years, 338 days, Spain's Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to appear at a European Championship in his team's 3-0 win over Croatia.

What they're saying

“Right now, Spain are better than us in terms of individual players. We will have to bring the Italian spirit into play; we will need to struggle together.” - Italy midfielder Davide Frattesi.

“I remember a friendly against Portugal before the last Euro and there was a part of the fanbase who weren't happy and whistled us.... Now we, the media and the fans all share a lot of pride and ambition in what we're doing. We're all rowing in the same direction.” - Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon.