Spain to play Italy in Madrid friendly in March
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's final friendly before coach Vicente del Bosque names his World Cup squad will be against Italy at Atletico Madrid's Calderon stadium on March 5, the world and European champions said on Friday.
The match will be the 33rd meeting between the two heavyweights, with 10 wins for Italy, nine for Spain and 13 draws, the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said on the national team's website.
It will also be a chance for Del Bosque to assess the form of Atletico's Brazil-born striker Diego Costa for the first time and see how he gels with the rest of the squad.
Top scorer in La Liga this season with 19 goals, Costa has committed to playing for his adopted country and Del Bosque called him up for November's friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
However, he had to withdraw due to injury and was replaced by Juventus striker Fernando Llorente.
Spain have had the upper hand over the Italians in recent competitive meetings, although they lost 2-1 in a friendly in Bari in August 2011.
They knocked Italy out of last year's Confederations Cup in a shootout, thrashed them 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final and also eliminated them on penalties in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals on the way to winning the tournament.
Spain begin the defense of their world title at this year's finals in Brazil against Group B rivals Netherlands, who they beat 1-0 in the 2010 final, in Salvador on June 13.
They play Chile in Rio De Janeiro on June 18 and Australia in Curitiba five days later.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris)