Spain national team boss Vicente del Bosque has admitted that Italy have always been a formidable opponent for the reigning World Cup champions.
The Azzurri will be facing the Roja in an international friendly in Madrid on March 5 and the tactician is aware of the Italian team’s ability to present a challenge, as the two sides most recently met in the Confederations Cup last summer in a match that Spain won after extra time in penalties.
Del Bosque spoke to Gazzetta dello Sport about past meetings between the two sides and the talent possessed by Italy, while also commenting on the Serie A.
“They are an opponent who has always been able to push the right buttons in order to complicate our lives, especially with regards to our defence,” said the 63-year-old, who has led Spain to a World Cup title in 2010 and a UEFA European Championship title in 2012, which they won after defeating Italy the final.
“I think of the opening of the field with [Christian] Maggio and [Emanuele] Giaccherini, the runs from central from [Daniele] De Rossi, [Claudio] Marchisio or [Riccardo] Montolivo, the one-on-ones from [Antonio] Cassano and [Mario] Balotelli, [Andrea] Pirlo’s intelligence.
“They have always been able to find ideas that have created problems, which fortunately we have always managed to overcome.
“At the start of the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, it was not that [Antonio] Di Natale’s goal was the only one we conceded, Italy gave us a very tough time.
“I consider the final against Italy as the best game of my administration, I do not forget that Italy had several problems – fatigue, injury, [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Thiago] Motta…
“Then there was the complicated challenge in Brazil, with additional major problems that Italy caused us, they dominated much of the game.
“How do I explain it? Italy have been world champions recently, they have good players and the Juventus block is important and tried.
“Serie A? I like to see that the Juventus Stadium is better than what was before, it is more enjoyable. For the rest I’m not going to get into the league.
“I no longer see the concept of Italian football, English or Spanish. Football has been made global and it is mixed.
“There are no English clubs in England, Italian in Italy. In Madrid, for example, there are Spaniards in few positions.”