Mancini Ahead of Spain Clash: “Always a Difficult Opponent”

Roberto Mancini expects Spain to put up a strong fight despite their rebuilding phase following a golden generation. The Azzurri face La Roja in the UEFA Nations League second semi-final in Enschede, the winner of which will play Croatia in the final in Rotterdam on Sunday.

The ex-Inter and Manchester City coach dished on the prospect of facing a tactically adept Spanish national side.

“They dominated for a long time and maybe recently they are changing something especially with the new coach, but they are always a difficult opponent in terms of quality and number of players they have. Tomorrow we will see if we are good at winning this match. For us it is already a success to have reached the final phase of the tournament, it is the second time we have succeeded and it is a good result, above all because we had a difficult group and with young players. Now we’ll see how these two games go. We too are renewing something and we have already played in the European Championship qualifiers with new, young players.”

All three Italian teams finished runners-up in the three European competitions this season – Roma, Fiorentina and Inter. Mancini believes that’s how hard football can get.

“We were unlucky with all three Italian teams in the final, none deserved to lose. Football is cruel and strange.”

Mancini also revealed that both Ciro Immobile and Federico Chiesa are expected to star in Italy’s two upcoming games.

“Immobile has been missing for a long time due to injury, as well as Chiesa. Now they are fine and they will be important for us. Given the two games in three days, I think they will both play.”

Historically, Spain have beaten Italy 12 times – one more than they’ve tasted defeat at the hands of the Azzurri. They have 16 draws between them in 39 encounters. Both Luis de la Fuente and Mancini are expected to approach the game with caution, given either side’s ability to outdo the other in the blink of an eye.

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