MILAN (AP) — Spain will be out for revenge when it plays old rival Italy in Turin on Thursday in the standout qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup.
Italy beat Spain 2-0 in the round of 16 at the European Championship to end its bid for a third consecutive continental title.
A lot has changed for both teams since then, but Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci believes the Azzurri need to have that same spirit if they are to pull off a similar feat on home soil.
"We're playing a different Spain to the one at Euro 2016," Bonucci said on Tuesday. "They want revenge and have new motivations.
"They are still favorites. They have the world's best players in every department. To upset the odds we will have to play with high-intensity, like we did in Paris, and be clinical in front of goal."
Both teams changed their coaches at the end of Euro 2016. The Italy defeat marked the end of Vicente del Bosque's long and successful stint as Spain's manager, with Julen Lopetegui tasked with rejuvenating a team that won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 and 2012 European Championships.
Gian Piero Ventura replaced Antonio Conte, who left for Chelsea after Italy's quarterfinal exit to Germany.
Spain forward Jose Callejon was recalled to the squad for the first time since his only two appearances for the national side in November 2014 and the Napoli star has an added motivation.
"It will be special because besides (playing against Italy) the match will be at Juve's stadium and the main rivalry we have at Napoli is against Juve," he said.
Both teams won their opening qualifiers in Group G, with Italy winning 3-1 in Israel and Spain crushing Lichtenstein 8-0. Italy will be without a crucial member of its Juventus trio of defenders as Giorgio Chiellini is suspended following his red card against Israel.
Italy visits Macedonia on Sunday, when Spain travels to Albania, which also won its opening qualifier.
Here is a look at some of the other teams bidding to reach Russia in 2018: