Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara has laughed off suggestions their white kit is a jinx as they prepare to take on Italy at Euro 2016 on Monday.
UEFA has confirmed Italy will wear blue for the match at the Stade de France with Spain wearing white, the colour they wore when losing 2-1 to Italy in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final.
Spain have also suffered defeats to Portugal at the European Championship in 2004 and at the 1998 World Cup to Nigeria while wearing white, but Thiago is not worried about claims the shirt brings bad luck.
“There is no jinx in our team,” said the Bayern Munich midfielder. “The white shirt is just a shirt.
“The important thing is not the colour of our shirt, it is our country.”
Thiago is expecting a tight match against an Italy side that has conceded just one goal in three matches in France.
“We all know that Italy are one of the biggest teams in the world and it is very difficult to score a goal against their defensive system,” Thiago said. “They have had good results and we expect a complicated match. It’s always hard against Italian teams.
“It is not a question of Italy being more or less offensive. They are very good with their style.”
Italy defender Andrea Barzagli, who forms an all-Juventus back three alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, conceded that style could be construed as “dirty or ugly” but the 35-year-old is adamant Antonio Conte’s men can simply not defend for 90 minutes.
He said: “We have to stop them and we will try to stop them.
“We are studying Spain but individual duels will be crucial for the final result. The small details will make the difference. Our attitude will be important. We need to be focused on their offensive style of playing.
“However we also need to attack them. We cannot only defend, that would be the worst mistake.
“People talked about the favourites at these Euros but they forgot Spain. Against their skills, we will fight as we have already done.
“Probably we are ugly, dirty…but we will do all we can to beat them.”
Having described Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta as “one of the best players ever”, Barzagli also warned of the threat posed by Alvaro Morata, who has three goals to his name and will lead the defending champions’ attack.
“In my opinion, he has more of an advantage than us,” said Barzagli, who played with Morata at Juve last season. “We know Alvaro that’s for sure but we are used to having him in our team.
“He knows our skills and he also knows that if he strays too close to Giorgio, he will receive a couple of kicks!”
Key Opta stats:
– This will be the 35th encounter between Italy and Spain. The record is perfectly balanced so far with 10 wins each and 14 draws.
– Italy’s last victory against Spain in a major tournament was in the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup (2-1 thanks to goals from Dino and Roberto Baggio).
– Italy have failed to score in three of their last four knockout games at the Euros.
– Spain’s starting line-up was the same in all three of their group games at Euro 2016.
– Only Fernando Torres (five) and David Villa (four) have scored more goals at the Euros for Spain than 23-year-old Alvaro Morata (three).
– Sergio Ramos has featured in 27 games at major tournaments, the joint-record for a Spanish outfield player alongside Fernando Torres. None of his 48 shots in the World Cup and Euros have found the back of the net.
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