Spain striker Alvaro Negredo is certain that Italy will provide another tough test for the world and European champions when they meet in the final of Euro 2012.
Despite conceding that Cesare Prandelli's Azzurri side have more attacking flair than previous squads, he warned that La Roja will need to be patient to deal with their opponents' aggresive style.
“Italy are a more attacking team than in the past, and they like to move the ball around a bit. But they continue to play in a tough and robust manner," he said on fifa.com.
"Playing against them can be a little exasperating, because they don’t leave you any gaps. We’ll have to be very patient."
Negredo was a surprise selection from Spain coach Vincente del Bosque to start the semi-final against Portugal, but the 26-year-old revealed despite being an initial shock, it was all part of a tactical plan.
“It [starting the semi-final] took me by surprise as well, but the idea was for me to put in a bit of graft, the kind of work that’s not necessarily that noticeable," he said.
"I was asked to do the dirty work, battling with their defenders and wearing them down, to clear the way for players capable of destabilising their back line."
Much has been made of the player fatigue during this tournament - with many players in La Roja's squad having been involved in the Champions League to its latter stages - but Negredo, who is hoping to keep his place in the team, believes this will not have a large bearing on the decider.
“I hope that I’ll be able to help out. It’ll be a completely different game, and we’ll need to keep putting the work in. If we do things right, the result will take care of itself, no matter who’s actually out on the pitch,” he explained.
“We’re all used to playing on Sundays and Wednesdays. But this is the modern game, and breaks during tournaments are shorter now.
"You can’t really use that as an excuse. While we will have had an extra day’s rest, it is unlikely to affect the result.”
Sunday's final in Kiev kicks off at 20:45CET.
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|