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FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifying Game Time Thread: Italy vs. Spain

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Italy v Spain - Round of 16: UEFA Euro 2016 Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Today is one of the few days during the international break where we get to actually watch football. Not Juventus because that would defeat the purpose of an international break, but a country where a lot of our favorite Juventus names will be donning the jersey of this evening.

For about two years, Italy vs. Spain used to be Juventus vs. Juventus to some aspect. But now that there’s Gonzalo Higuain wearing the No. 9 at Juventus and not Álvaro Morata, one easy storyline has turned into another. Instead of Morata playing his current teammates, he’s playing against his former teammates tonight at Juventus Stadium in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.

This will be Morata vs. his former Juventus teammates like Gigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Considering where the game is being played, I wouldn’t be surprised if Claudio Marchisio makes an appearance, too, but that’s just me missing Claudio more than anything. (Hi, Claudio, still miss you.)

There will be football at Juventus Stadium tonight. Just not the same team playing football as the past four weeks or so. The names may sound the same, probably some names we wouldn’t mind seeing wear bianconero within the next couple of years, but not Juventus themselves.

That’s okay. While not as strong as other years, Italy still has a heavy Juventus influence. If anything, we can see if Buffon will have a celebratory leap onto the crossbar like he did when Italy beat Spain at the 2016 European Championship. That sure was fun ... even if he did fall down and give us quite a scare that one time back in the end of June.

So go out and do what Juventus has done a lot of on their home ground over the last five years, Italy. If anything, make sure you keep the winning mojo for the good guys’ return to that field come next weekend.

MATCH INFO

Location: Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy

Kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in England; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast

STARTING LINEUPS

Italy starting XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessio Romagnoli; Alessandro Florenzi, Matteo Parolo, Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo, Mattia De Sciglio; Eder, Graziano Pellè

Italy bench: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mattia Perin, Matteo Darmian, Angelo Ogbonna, Davide Astori, Antonio Candreva, Marco Verratti, Federico Bernardeschi, Giacomo Bonaventura, Ciro Immobile, Manolo Gabbiadini, Andrea Belotti

Spain starting XI (4-3-2-1): David De Gea; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Koke, Andres Iniesta; Vitolo, David Silva; Diego Costa

Spain bench: Sergio Rico, Pepe Reina, Nacho, Sergio Roberto, Inigo Martinez, Thiago Alcantara, Ander Herrera, Isco, Alvaro Morata, Jose Callejon, Lucas Vazquez, Nolito

WATCH IT

TV: Fox Sports 1 USA (United States); Sportsnet World Now, Sportsnet One (Canada); ITV 4 UK (United Kingdom): RAI Uno (Italy)

Online: Fox Sports GO, Fox Soccer 2GO USA (United States)

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