Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is braced for a searching examination against Spain in Group C of Euro 2012 on Sunday.
Reigning world and European champions Spain are among the favourites to win the UEFA showcase event in Poland and Ukraine.
Their first assignment is a match against 2006 FIFA World Cup winners Italy in Gdansk, and Prandelli knows his players will be hard pressed to contain Vicente del Bosque’s accomplished line-up.
“Spain are definitely the team to beat because they have proved consistency of play and performances over the recent years,” Prandelli said.
“They have a very well-established style of play, no matter who are their opponents and few teams are able to stop them. That’s Spain’s strength.
Italy goalkeeper Buffon, a veteran of their triumph in Germany six years ago, acknowledged Spain are favourites to win the Group-C clash, but remains hopeful his team can spring an upset.
“Spain should not be afraid of Italy, they have so many certainties that they cannot be afraid of anyone,” Buffon said.
“They will surely have respect for us, as you do for any opponent you meet, stronger or not.
“In football the stronger win almost always, and they are definitely stronger. But sometimes the ones who play better win, so that leaves us some space for a hope.
Following their match against Spain, Italy have fixtures against Republic of Ireland and Croatia in Group C.
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