Italy and Spain meet for 5th Euros in a row. The record is tight

DUSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Defending champion Italy plays Spain on Thursday in one of the most anticipated games at Euro 2024. 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. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX sports app. 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 semifinalist Croatia.
  • Italy beat Spain on penalties in the semifinals 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.

Spain’s dominant 3-0 win over Croatia: Biggest takeaways

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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 lineup.

By the numbers

  • This is the fifth Euros in a row in which 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.

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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