Spain vs Italy Predicted Lineups: Will Joselu spearhead the Spanish attack?

De La Fuente Spain
Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente during the European Qualifiers match between Spain v Norway played at La Rosaleda Stadium on March 25, 2023, in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Antonio Pozo / Pressinphoto / Icon Sport) – Photo by Icon sport

International heavyweights Spain and Italy collide in a showpiece Nations League semi-final showdown in the Netherlands on Thursday where a place in the competition’s climactic fixture in Rotterdam is up for grabs.

Having failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Italy have restored a measure of pride with their run to the Nations League finals, overcoming a tricky set of opponents including Germany, England and Hungary to make the tournament’s last four.

Spain meanwhile, have been busy ushering in a new era following their limp showing and Last 16 exit in Qatar and with a fresh face in the hotseat in Luis de la Fuente and a changing of the guard in their squad, La Roja have it all to prove again.

Thursday’s clash has been pencilled in to start at 19:45 UK time and viewers in the United Kingdom can catch all of the action live on Viaplay Sports 1.

Spain Team News: De la Fuente continues squad overhaul

The rapid revamp of Spain’s squad under new manager Luis de La Fuente continued earlier this month when he named his selection for Thursday’s Nations League semi-final, which included just 12 of the players that flew to Qatar for the country’s ill-fated World Cup campaign.

One of the more interesting additions to La Roja’s latest roster is the uncapped Robin Le Normand.  The 26-year-old Real Sociedad defender secured dual nationality status in May and is now cleared to represent Spain.

Rayo Vallecano defender Fran Garcia is the only other uncapped player in the squad, however, there are eight combatants in total involved who have made ten or fewer appearances for Spain.

In terms of omissions, Barcelona whizz-kid Pedri missed the cut due to injury, while Sevilla winger Bryan Gill and Villarreal forward Gerardo Moreno are also sidelined with complaints. On June 5th, David Garcia and Nico Williams were forced to withdraw from the squad and were subsequently replaced by Nacho and Ansu Fati.

Forwards Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal – who combined well for goals against Italy in the 2021 Nations League semi-finals – won’t be involved either. 33-year-old veteran Joselu, who started the 2-0 loss to Scotland in March, could be deployed up front again in the absence of the aforementioned pair.

Speaking in the lead-up to Thursday’s game, Luis de la Fuente had a positive outlook, saying:

“I feel happy for having the opportunity to face three great teams, in this case the semi-final with Italy, who I consider to be, obviously, great opponents. We value it very much, and we are very happy because we are going to be able to compete.

We are on a par with all the best national teams in the world and we are very much looking forward to this competition.”

Italy Team News: Five Inter Milan stars included

Last week, Roberto Mancini was able to finalise a strong 23-man squad for Thursday’s high-profile semi-final test, with the vast majority of the Azzurri’s leading stars fit and available to face Spain.

Monza midfielder Matteo Pessina and Sassuolo attacker Domenico Berardi both withdrew from the Italian training camp with injuries just before Mancini cemented his official selection, though neither player was considered particularly central to the 58-year-old’s plans.

Five of Inter Milan’s Champions League finalists, Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni, Matteo Darmian and Nicolò Barella, Federico Dimarco, will be involved, while a trio of Alex Meret, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Giacomo Raspadori will represent recently-crowned Serie A champions, Napoli.

A good deal of focus will also be on 24-year-old hotshot Mateo Retegui up front. The striker swapped Argentina for Italy last year and scored in each of his first two runouts for his new compatriots.

Robert Mancini discussed Italy’s progress in the Nations League in the build-up to Thursday’s game, saying:

“First of all, it’s a great achievement to be back in the final four. In the group we had good teams like Germany, England and Hungary.

We’re in the final stage and it’s clear that we want to win, like the others, but it won’t be easy. I had to make some choices, unfortunately someone was left out, but the guys who are here all deserve it.”

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