The semi-finals of the Confederations Cup kick off on Wednesday night in an all-South-American battle between Brazil and Uruguay.
However, the most anticipated game is surely the repeat of last year’s EURO 2012 final as Spain take on Italy on Thursday evening.
Spain v Italy
The Spaniards have now overtaken Brazil as favourites to win the competition after they waltzed to three victories out of three in their group stage but they must first navigate a testing semi against Cesare Prandelli’s Italy side.
However, they will be without talisman Mario Balotelli for the match after he was ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to a thigh injury. He got through the full 90 minutes of their 4-2 defeat to Brazil but team doctor Enrico Castellacci said they would not be taking any risks with him.
The Italians played well in parts during their match against Brazil but were unable to sustain the pressure which is something they will have to do if they’re going to have any chance of troubling Spain.
Spain are obviously favourites going into the match as they look to complete their triple crown of World Cup, European Cup and Confederations Cup and Paddy Power proved the best odds of 2/5.
Paddy Power are also offering tempting odds 15/2 on an Italy victory which provides good value should they manage to upset the form book.
Fernando Torres is the tournament’s top scorer so far with five goals, albeit four of them coming against Tahiti, but he tops the first scorer charts and Stan James are offering odds of 9/2.
Should Italy strike first in the match, a decent bet would be on experienced striker Alberto Gilardino who has proven he can still cut it an international level so far this tournament. 13/1 odds with Bet Victor are certainly generous.
The match will be shown live on BBC One at 8pm on Thursday night.
Brazil v Uruguay
But first hosts Brazil line up against Group B runners-up Uruguay in Belo Horizonte and will be confident of reaching the final on Sunday night.
Despite early concern from home journalists, the young Brazilian side breezed through their group with relative ease, also winning all three of their games.
Luis Felipe Scolari has a full roster to choose from as Paulinho has now recovered from an ankle strain after sitting out the win over Italy.
Wonder-kid Neymar will once again hold the key to Brazil success on Wednesday. The 21-year old has netted in all three games and was also named man of the match in all the group stage games and he’s favourite to open the scoring in the semi-final match. Bet Victor offer odds of 4/1 for him to net first.
Luis Suarez will be important to Uruguay if they are to stand any chance of winning the game and a host of outlets are offering odds of 10/1 for him to score first, including Bet 365.
Brazil are big favourites to extend their Confederations Cup winning run to 11 consecutive games and a number of site are offering odds of 4/11 including Paddy Power. A Uruguay victory looks unlikely at this stage and this is reflected in the bookies lists, Paddy Power offering the best odds of 8/1.
You can watch that game on Wednesday night from 8pm on BBC Three.
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