Spain v Italy – 5pm Sunday – ITV1 – Gdansk.
The reigning champions, World Cup holders and Euro 2012 favourites Spain kick-off their title defence with a Group C fixture which may dictate who goes on to top the standings.
Although Spain lost their first World Cup match two years ago, they look worthy favourites to see off Italy in Sunday’s curtain-raiser. La Roja may be missing talismanic defender Carles Puyol and record goalscorer David Villa but the selection headaches posed to Vicente Del Bosque are a world away from the problems engulfing the Azzuri.
With yet another match-fixing scandal brewing back home, Cesere Prandelli is having to rely on the unpredictability and inconsistent pairing of Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli to lead the line.
Despite both managers promising to be more attacking in their approach, we can’t see many goals in this one. History supports our view, with just one scored in the three European Championship meetings between the sides, but with Spain coming into the game on the back of a stunning run – 41 wins in their last 45 competitive games – it pays to be on the Spanish side.
There’s a temptation to take Under 1.5 Goals at 2/1 with Ladbrokes, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. So take Spain to beat Italy at 9/10 with Stan James.