Italy and Spain combined XI ahead of 2018 World Cup qualifying meeting
Lee Gormley | October 4, 2016
Italy and Spain combined XI
International giants Italy and Spain are set to collide for a tasty 2018 World Cup qualifying clash on the former’s home patch, with this tussle seeing the two leading contenders for Group G supremacy squaring off.
Both nations are under new management, with Gian Piero Ventura and Julen Lopetegui having replaced Antonio Conte and Vicente del Bosque respectively, while Spain will seek revenge after being knocked out of Euro 2016 by the Italians.
Manchester United’s Ander Herrera earned his maiden call-up to the Spanish squad recently after impressive performances under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, and could soon be making his first ever senior appearance against the Azzurri.
So, ahead of what is set to be an intriguing encounter, Coral have gone through each roster and come up with an Italy and Spain combined XI based on current form. Do you agree with our selections?
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon
Juventus and Italy’s veteran stopper Buffon is now 38 and still going strong, having kept six clean sheets this season for both club and country.
The legendary goal guard is on a run of four consecutive shut outs for the Old Lady, and that’s why he edges the number one shirt ahead of David de Gea in our line-up, with the latter having made a recent mistake which cost Man Utd points against Stoke City.
Centre back: Giorgio Chiellini
Sitting in front of Buffon in that solid Juventus backline is stalwart centre back Chiellini, who has been an integral part of keeping those successive clean sheets in the Champions League and Serie A.
He will hope to continue his form in midweek when his Italy are 19/10 to earn home success over Spain.
Centre back: Leonardo Bonucci
Alongside long-standing Italy and Juventus partner Chiellini, Bonucci is an integral defensive giant to have, having been equally assuring in the rearguard in Turin this season.
Centre back: Gerard Pique
Our Spain representative in the back three is Barcelona’s Pique, who has been enjoying another solid campaign at the Nou Camp and will also enter proceedings against Italy on a run of three goals in two games.
Right wing back: Alessandro Florenzi
Roma currently sit third in Serie A and their reliable wideman Florenzi has been a key feature for the Italian capital club, recently helping them overcome Inter Milan and also Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League.
Centre midfield: Ander Herrera
Following a strong string of showings for Man Utd, Spain boss Lopetegui has handed Herrera his maiden call-up and it’s a move that will have Red Devils fans thinking ‘finally’!
The Basque has become a key player under Mourinho and his impressive club outings have warranted a deserved spot in the Spain roster and our combined XI.
Centre midfield: Marco Verratti
PSG pass-master Verratti features in the heart of our midfield after starring for his club again this season, following his welcomed return from the injury which ruled him out of Euro 2016.
The 23-year-old also brings the aggression to the central areas, proven by his dismissal during the European draw with Arsenal earlier in the campaign.
Centre midfield: David Silva
Manchester City’s perfect start to the Premier League season may have come to an end, but Spanish playmaker Silva has been brilliant throughout nonetheless, and the creative midfielder also bagged a brace in the 8-0 demolition of Liechtenstein.
Left wing back: Koke
Atletico Madrid have rallied to top of the La Liga table before the international break, and versatile midfielder Koke has been a key component for Diego Simeone’s men.
The 24-year-old has featured on both wings and in the centre for his club so far this term, while he also starred in the previous 8-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein – Spain’s opening qualifying clash.
Striker: Ciro Immobile
Of all the Italian forwards called up to the latest squad, Lazio frontman Immobile has impressed most this season with five strikes for club and country, having netted in the opening win over Israel.
The Serie A attacker’s career has previously hit a stumbling block, but he is beginning to rediscover his form at an important time and has edged out Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata in our team, who has just four in 11 this term.
Striker: Diego Costa
Chelsea poacher Costa was an obvious selection for this XI, with the Brazilian-born hitman enjoying a resurgence under Conte at Stamford Bridge and has bagged eight goals in nine outings for club and country this season.
The in-form sharpshooter dispatched twice against Liechtenstein and has racked up six Premier League strikes, with his side entering the Italy clash at 6/4 to triumph on their travels.