2018 WORLD CUP | ITALY - SPAIN
Diego Costa in line to lead Spain's attack against Italy
On Tuesday, Lopetegui tried out a team comprising: De Gea; Carvajal, Piqué, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Koke; Silva, Iniesta, Vitolo and Diego Costa.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui used Tuesday's training session to try out the team which in all likelihood will face Italy at Juventus stadium on Thursday. Lopetegui fielded almost the same XI which beat Belgium in a friendly last month, amking just two changes to that side - Iniesta coming in for Thiago and Diego Costa replacing Morata. In today's practice match, the team comprised: De Gea; Carvajal, Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Koke; Silva, Iniesta, Vitolo and Diego Costa.
The problem for Spain's technical team is how to counter Italy's tactical set-up, and that means attacking a defender of three centre-backs (Bonucci, Barzagli and Ogbonna) and defending against a side which emplys five in midfield - three through the middle and two wide players. Lopetegui wants his team to press Italy high up the field which is why he prefers Diego Costa to Morata - even if the Real Madrid striker knows Juventus stadium better than any of his team mates; that work with require a huge amount of effort and aggression with Costa and Vitolo constantly on top of Italy's full backs. In theory, it will also allow Iniesta and Silva to drift wide when put under pressure by Italy's midfield. Koke and Busquets will form the midfield pivot with the Atlético player in charge of supplying balls between lines.
Morata to return vs Albania
Diego Costa looks set to start on Thursday with Morata coming back into the starting XI in the next match against Albania, in which Lopetegui is certain to make wholesale changes to the team.
Spain spent a lot of time on set-pieces in today's workout - an area in which the Italians are specialists. Sergio Ramos and Piqué will join the attack for corners and free-kicks to give La Roja additional aerial power.
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