Spain vs. Italy: Final score 1-0, dull but efficient for La Roja

Claudio Villa

There wasn't much action between Spain and Italy, but the Spaniards looked relatively untested in their win.

Spain are heading into World Cup preparation in good shape, though they could have used a bit more bite on Wednesday. They controlled their game against Italy throughout, but only turned their dominance into one goal in a 1-0 victory.

The game was the debut of Diego Costa, the Atletico Madrid forward who has opted to represent Spain instead of his native Brazil. Vicente del Bosque's system is much different than Diego Simeone's, and it showed in this match. Costa struggled to get involved as frequently as he does for Atleti.

Italy and Spain exchanged chances in the first half, though the Spaniards had much more of the ball. Alessio Cerci hit the post early on and Dani Osvaldo nearly scored with a great move in the 29th minute, beating a couple of defenders before blazing a shot just over the bar from 18 yards. Spain's best chance of the first half came in the 22nd minute, when Andres Iniesta forced a save out of Gianluigi Buffon from close range.

As with many midweek international friendlies, the substitutions were numerous at the halfway and hour marks. Both teams made three changes at halftime, then more just after 60 minutes passed. Italy used all of their substitutions before the 70-minute mark, while Spain saved just one for later, with Santi Cazorla entering in the 82nd minute.

While those substitutions certainly altered the flow of the game considerably, Spain were affected less. They made like-for-like switches, while Italy changed their shape at halftime, and that change didn't turn out to be a positive one.

The game's only goal came in the 63rd minute off a pretty passing move from Spain, with Pedro finishing it off. David Silva found Andres Iniesta in the penalty box to set it up, and Iniesta played a brilliant backheel towards Pedro. His pass was deflected, but found its intended target anyway, and Pedro finished to give Spain the win.

Otherwise, the game was fairly uneventful, with Spain controlling possession but doing very little with it. Italy finished the game with only three shots, and just one of those hit the target.

Spain: Casillas (Valdes 46'), Alba, Ramos (Albiol 66'), Martinez, Azpilicueta, Busquets (Alonso 46'), Fabregas (Silva 46'), Thiago, Iniesta (Navas 66'), Costa, Pedro (Cazorla 82')

Goals: Pedro (63')

Italy: Buffon, Criscito (De Sciglio 46'), Barzagli, Paletta, Maggio (Abate 46'), Motta (Giaccherini 62'), Montolivo, Marchisio, Cerci (Immobile 69'), Osvaldo (Destro 69'), Candreva (Pirlo 46')

Goals: None

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