Italy v Spain: Six of their best recent matches before Euro 2024

Andrea Pirlo and Andreas Iniesta
Image caption, Italy’s Andrea Pirlo tackles Spain midfielder Andreas Iniesta

The European Championship often produces a match between two historic footballing nations – and this year’s tournament is no different.

Spain and Italy will renew their rivalry on Thursday in their second game in Group B with both teams looking to add to their impressive pedigree in the competition.

Defending champions Italy have won the Euros twice, while Spain won the competition in 1964, 2008 and 2012.

From Andreas Iniesta to Andrea Pirlo, Xavi to Jorginho, these sides have boasted some of the best players this generation has witnessed.

BBC Sport takes a trip down memory lane to relive six of the best matches between these footballing giants of the 21st Century.

Nations League semi-final – Spain 2-1 Italy (June 2023)

In their most recent meeting, Luis de la Fuente’s side needed a late goal from Real Madrid supersub Joselu to progress to the Nations League final – where they went on to beat Croatia.

Yeremy Pino opened the scoring early on before Ciro Immobile responded by tucking away a penalty.

Three minutes from the end, Joselu scored a fortunate winner to hand Spain victory over Italy.

Nations League semi-final – Spain 2-1 Italy (October 2021)

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Sergio Busquets celebrates a brilliant Spain performance at the San Siro

In a dominant display at the San Siro, Spain advanced to the Nations League final in 2021 thanks to two goals from Ferran Torres in the first half.

Italian stalwart Leonardo Bonucci was shown a red card on the stroke of half-time before Lorenzo Pellegrini halved the deficit late on.

The scoreline failed to show Spain’s excellence in a match where they had 75% possession and made 816 passes, compared with Italy’s 276.

Euro 2020 semi-final – Italy 1-1 Spain, 4-2 on pens (July 2021)

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Federico Chiesa celebrates after putting Italy in the lead against Spain

One of Italy’s stars of Euro 2020, Federico Chiesa, broke the deadlock on the hour mark and the Azzurri had further chances to put themselves out of sight at Wembley.

Substitute Alvaro Morata levelled for Spain to take the tie to extra time. Ultimately, the striker happened to be the Spaniard to have his spot-kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma to send Italy to the final.

It was a hugely significant moment in Italian football history as they went on to break English hearts and lift the European Championship trophy.

Euro 2016 – Italy 2-0 Spain (June 2016)

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Giorgio Chiellini beats Gerard Pique to the ball to score for Italy against Spain

Antonio Conte’s side came into this tie at Stade de France having lost to Spain in the previous two Euros.

Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle scored for the Azzurri to put an end to Spain’s eight-year reign as European champions.

The Italians then went on to lose to Germany in a penalty shootout at the quarter-final stage.

Euro 2012 final – Spain 4-0 Italy (July 2012)

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Iker Casillas lifts the European Championship trophy after beating Italy

Reigning European and world champions Spain looked unstoppable during Euro 2012 and Italy were faced with attempting to halt this winning machine.

It took just 14 minutes for David Silva to give Spain the lead in Kyiv before Jordi Alba doubled it.

Juan Mata and Fernando Torres secured the European crown with the highest score in a Euros final.

Euro 2008 – Spain 0-0 Italy, 4-2 on pens (June 2008)

Talent was on display all over the pitch but Xavi, Iniesta and Pirlo could not make their move in this chess match of a football game.

Spain came into the match having never beaten Italy in a competitive game and had it all to do in Vienna.

Luis Aragones’ side ended the 74-year curse in a penalty shootout when Iker Casillas saved spot-kicks from Daniele de Rossi and Antonio di Natale before Cesc Fabregas sent Spain to the semi-finals.

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