When and where: The Euro 2012 Group C clash kicks-off from the PGE Arena in Gdansk, Poland, at noon ET. Live coverage will be on ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.
Much of the focus as Spain take on Italy will be on whether Xavi can produce his best form after an end of the season disrupted by a persistent calf injury.
Preview: Tournament favorites Spain begin their quest for to enter the history books against Italy on Sunday, in Gdansk. No national side has ever claimed three consecutive major tournaments, but after awe-inspiring victories at Euro 2008 and the World Cup in South Africa, few teams have been better positioned to accomplish that most difficult of feats.
Much of the core of those victorious sides remains intact for this summer's championships. Xavi will still be pulling the strings with his unnerving =ly accurate passing, while Andres Iniesta will be there to provide the forward thrust from an advanced midfield role.
But the Spanish will also be some notable absentees that could potentially undermine their hopes. Both captain Carlos Puyol, an inspirational figure at the back, and the the nation's record goal scorer, David Villa, will be missing through injury.
Arguably the key selection dilemma for coach Vicente Del Bosque is who to select in Villa's place. Fernando Torres is still some way short of the form that made him such a potent weapon in 2008, while alternatives Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente have yet to fully establish themselves in the national team.
Those problems seem miniscule when considering the tribulations their opponents, Italy, have gone through leading up to the tournament. For the second time in six years the country is engulfed in a match fixing scandal that has tainted the national game and had a direct impact on the Italian squad.
In a wide-ranging investigation, first-choice left-back Domenico Criscito was forced to withdraw from the championships in order to attempt to clear his name.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will attempt to put a smile back on the nation's faces with a style of play that diverges greatly from the famed concept of Catenaccio. The Azzurri will be a much more forward-thinking possession-based side, but doubts remain over whether the team has the quality to pull off such an expansive style.
For so long the strength of any Italian side, such is their weakness at center-back that midfielder Daniele De Rossi looks certain to play at the heart of a back three against Spain.
Spain (probable, 4-3-3)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba
M: Busquets, Alonso, Xavi
F: Silva, Torres, Iniesta
D: Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini
M:Maggio, Motta, Pirlo, Marchisio, Balzaretti
F: Cassano, Balotelli
Prediction: While Prandelli is likely to display somewhat more pragmatism against Spain, don't expect Italy to merely sit back on the edge of their own box. A fact that should make for an entertaining matchup. Unfortunately for Italy, it also means a likely win for Spain, given their far superior players going forward.
Spain 3-1 Italy
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