MACAU DAILY TIMES 澳門每日時報Spain and Italy meet for fifth championship in a row and the record is tight

DDefending champions Italy play Spain today (Friday, 3am) in one of the most anticipated matches at Euro 2024. Spain lead Group B ahead of Italy on goal difference after both teams won their opening matches. Croatia and Albania are the other teams in the group. The kick-off is at 9 p.m. locally in Gelsenkirchen. Here’s what you need to know about the competition:

Match Facts – Italy survived the scare against Albania when Nedim Bajrami scored after 23 seconds – the fastest goal in European Championship history. A 2-1 come-from-behind victory avoided embarrassment for Luciano Spalletti’s team.

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

— Italy defeated Spain on penalties in the semi-finals of the last European Championship 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.

— The run-up to the last match in Gelsenkirchen – Serbia vs. England – was overshadowed by concerns about fan violence. Eight people were temporarily detained after a fight between fans. Less attention was paid to possible security problems prior to this game.

Team news – Spanish defender Aymeric Laporte has resumed training with the team after a muscle problem.

– Italian media have speculated that Spalletti would make changes ahead of the match against Spain and that Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante could be included in his starting line-up.

Looking at the numbers, this is the fifth European Championship in a row that Spain and Italy have met, with two wins each in Friday’s match.

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

— Italy is aiming for a record third European championship title. Spain and Germany have also won three titles. Italy could also become only the second team to win the European Championship in a row, after Spain in 2008 and 2012

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

What they say: ‘Right now Spain is better than us in terms of individual players. We will have to bring the Italian spirit into play; we will have to fight together.” – Italian midfielder Davide Frattesi.

“I remember a friendly against Portugal before the last European Championship and there was a section of the fanbase who were not happy and whistled at us…. Now we, the media and the fans all share a lot of pride and ambition in what we do. We are all rowing in the same direction.” – Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon. JAMES ROBSON, DUSSELDORF, MDT/AP

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