Álvaro Morata ready to renew battle when Spain face Italy

Captain labels fixture filled with history of highs and lows for Spain as a knockout game in order to rally his troops

Álvaro Morata just knew. Before the draw was made, the Spain captain insists he was convinced the seleccion would get Italy. They always do and, although this is a special match for a striker whose wife Alice is Italian, who spent four years at Juventus across two spells and who may go back for a third, a game he says he can’t wait to play, it is also one that sadly his family will not attend and one that doesn’t always end well. This is his third European Championship, the competition in which only Michel Platini and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more; until now, they have all been ended by the same team.

It’s personal, and it’s painful. In 2016, his friends Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini warned him to wear a helmet, then dumped Spain out in Paris. Five years later, he scored the opening goal in the semi-final at Wembley, but missed the seleccion’s last penalty. “And who knows what would have happened had we won that shootout,” he says.

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