London: Spain’s lack of variety and aggression in the ongoing European football championship could give Italy the upper hand in the pre-quarterfinal clash, according to incoming Bayern Munich head coach Carlo Ancelotti.
The reigning Euro champions’ 1-2 defeat to Croatia in their last Group D fixture left Spain facing a daunting knockout clash with Antonio Conte’s men at the Stade de France on Monday — a repeat of the Euro 2012 final.
But Ancelotti, who compared Spain’s Alvaro Morata to Poland and Bayern star Robert Lewandowski, said the reigning champions are not the team they were four years ago and that Italy have every chance of making the quarter-finals.
“I keep getting told that Italy have a really hard draw facing Spain in the Euro 2016 second round in the Stade de France on Monday. My only response is, yes, but Spain have a really tough draw, too. Italy will play to their strengths in defence and close the space between the lines. They do not have the players to dominate possession,” Ancelotti was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
“Spain can not change. They play just one way, which is to probe and pass and keep the ball. They have tried to vary it a little bit in recent games with more direct passes to Alvaro Morata.”
“He is a good player who can do well. I did not have a lot of opportunity to play him at Real Madrid, but he is the kind of guy who comes alive in the box, like Robert Lewandowski,” the former Real Madrid head coach said.
The winner of Monday’s match will face Germany or Slovakia in the last eight.
“Spain will control the midfield, I am sure. Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets have been doing that for years.”
“I have noticed, though, that as a team they are not quite so aggressive as they were four years ago when it comes to winning the ball back again. Maybe Italy can use that to their advantage,” Ancelotti added.