ITALY-SPAIN

Del Bosque tries out Koke-Iniesta midfield pairing for Italy game

The Spain coach is keen to strengthen the team's midfield for Monday's Last 16 tie in Nice. Nolito could make way for the Atlético midfielder.

Del Bosque tries out Koke-Iniesta midfield pairing for Italy game
JuanJo Martín EFE

The Spain squad returned to the training pitch on Thursday evening, following a day to recharge their batteries and recover from Monday's defeat to Croatia. Del Bosque allowed the media access to watch the first 15 minutes of the session.

During that time Toni Grande divided the group and handed out the bibs to half of the outfield players - Bellerín, San José, Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Cesc, Thiago, Lucas, Aduriz and Nolito were on the bibbed side, Juanfran, Bartra, Piqué, Azpilicueta,  Bruno, Iniesta, Koke, Silva, Morata and Pedro were without bibs. 

With the squad separated into two groups - a mix of first choice players and substitutes, Del Bosque's plan is to not make any great changes to the team for Monday's game against Italy - one change at the most. It was interesting however to see Koke playing alongside Iniesta, and Thiago pairing up with Cesc. While the regular starters and non-regulars were mixed, players who occupy the same wing normally tend to train together. From today's workout, perhaps we can deduce that Koke will enter the starting XI against Italy, shoring up Spain's midfield and the player who to make way would be Nolito, because Cesc's performances have continued to improve during the three games played so far.