It’s the International Break, every Juventus fan’s worst nightmare that pops up now and then and uses our players and subsequently breaks them. This break was no different with Sami Khedira and Giorgio Chiellini the first victims of the beast that is the International Break.
There is some good that comes out of it though, and tonight it comes in the form of a competitive match between Italy and Spain, in a Group G matchup as part of the 2018 World Cup qualification tournament. The game takes place at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, and is the second time and final time the two clubs will meet in the qualifiers.
Group G has seen clear dominance with these two clubs both sitting atop of the table with 16 points each, with next best Israel and Albania tied on 9 points. The first time these two teams met in Turin, they drew 1-1 thanks to a late De Rossi penalty. Italy only has 37% of the possession, and from what I recall - they didn’t look good. But they came out with a draw, and a win in Madrid would put them pole position in the group, and a huge step towards guaranteed qualification.
A reminder how qualifying works:
Qualifying group stage
• The 54 entrants (all UEFA national associations except automatically qualified hosts Russia) play in nine groups of six.
• The nine group winners advance directly to the final tournament.
• The eight runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups proceed to play-offs to decide the remaining four European berths.
So yea, Italy’s going to want to get that top spot, especially considering teams like Croatia and Portugal are in a position that might see them as runners-up in their groups as well. This game is a biggie, to say the least.
The Italy squad called up: Buffon, Donnarumma, Perin; Conti, Darmian, Spinazzola, Astori, Barzagli, Bonucci, D’Ambrosio, Rugani; Pellegrini, Candreva, Verratti, Insigne, De Rossi, Montolivo, Bernardeschi, El Shaarawy, Parolo; Belotti, Immobile, Eder, Gabbiadini
Location: Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Italy XI (4-2-4): Buffon; Darmian, Barzagli, Bonucci, Spinazzola; Candreva, De Rossi, Verratti, Insigne; Belotti, Immobile.
Italy Bench: TBA
Spain XI: De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Piqué, Alba; Iniesta, Busquets, Koke; Isco, Asensio, Silva.
Spain Bench: TBA
TV: Fox Sports 2 (USA)
Online/Mobile: Fox Sports Go (USA)
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