Belfast Telegraph

We won't change, insists Del Bosque as Italians loom

By Robert Jones

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque will not change his side's approach when they take on Italy in their eagerly anticipated last-16 clash at Euro 2016.

The winners of the past two European Championships looked to be hitting top gear as they thrashed Turkey 3-0 in their second group game, but optimism was then tempered by an unexpected loss to Croatia.

That defeat saw the 2010 world champions slip to second in Group D and move into the other half of the knockout draw to face Italy in a repeat of the 2012 final.

Del Bosque said: "We lost our World Cup opener against Switzerland (in 2010) but we hardly changed anything afterwards.

"We played with the same players and in the same way, because it was the way we'd played that had got us there in the first place, and we weren't going to rip up our plans because of one defeat to Switzerland. So we kept going and we intend to do that this time round."

For another example of sticking to original plans, Del Bosque looked back to the last Euros when Spain swept away a group-stage draw with Italy to beat the same opponents 4-0 in the final.

He said: "Our first game was against Italy. They were better than us, but we drew and then we ended up beating none other than Italy in the final.

"We hardly changed anything in between on that occasion either, although coaches do obviously have to have a bit of flexibility so that they can make changes at any given moment."

Spain are unbeaten in their last five matches with Italy and also ousted them at Euro 2008, with victory on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Their last meeting saw them draw 1-1 in a friendly in Udine in March and they will also face each other again in World Cup qualifying in October.

Del Bosque seems unlikely to make major changes to his side either, with goalkeeper David De Gea, who was criticised after the Croatia loss, expected to continue.

Italy, beaten by the Republic of Ireland in their last pool match, are without midfielder Antonio Candreva because of a thigh injury while 10 of their squad are only one booking away from a suspension.

Belfast Telegraph