Eduardo Alvarez explains why Spain can overcome Italy's challenge

He also discusses the lack of successors to Xavi and Xabi Alonso with Team 33

Spain, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets

Spain's from left to right: Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets stand prior of the Euro 2016 Group D soccer match between Spain and the Czech Republic at the Stadium municipal in Toulouse, France, Monday, June 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Outside of Ireland, the clash between giants Spain and Italy is the highest profile match up from Euro 2016's Round of 16.

After years of feeling Italy had a hoodoo over them, Spain have most certainly banished that particular sense after getting the better of them in Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.

But as they meet again, the Spanish are licking their wounds after losing their last group match against Croatia, while Italy may be pessimistic after losing to Ireland, but have a defence that can frustrate Spain's patterns.

However, ESPN and Radio Marca's Eduardo Alvarez still gives the reigning European champions an edge for various reasons as he told Team 33.

"I think Spain suffers more with physical teams than with tactical teams. I know Italy is a mighty rival and it will be a really difficult match for Spain but as long as Spain is able to enjoy the ball possession and keep passing the ball, Italy will be fantastic at closing down passing gaps," he explained.

"But Spain will still be comfortable by having the ball and will be patient to try and find an opening. But if Spain plays a more physical rival like France or even Germany, you see Spain's midfield is really challenged in terms of height and physical strength. So Spain really suffers when a team starts fouling Iniesta, Fabregas, stopping the pace of the game and I don't think Italy are as well equipped to do that as France or Germany."

Among the other issues we discussed with Eduardo was how negative headlines about or emerging from the squad is partly down to manager Vicente Del Bosque's laid back style of control and also how Spain have been unable to find a deep-lying successor to Xabi Alonso in particular to give them better balance.

You can listen to the full interview with Eduardo on the podcast player or stream for free on iTunes: