Ogbonna's Italy prepared for Spain clash

  • Italy prepared to face Spain in their round-of-16 match
  • Angelo Ogbonna knows the clash will be tough after defeat to the Republic of Ireland
  • The Hammers defender says The Azzurri must be “totally focused” on the Spain tie
Angelo Ogbonna’s Italy side head into their first UEFA Euro 2016 knockout fixture against Spain on Monday night in Paris in one of the tournament’s most intriguing matches so far.
The West Ham centre-back made his first appearance in the tournament against the Republic of Ireland last week as manager Antonio Conte made eight changes with the group already won, but The Azzurri were downed by a late Robbie Brady header and lost 1-0.
By then, however, Italy already knew their fate – Spain’s defeat to Croatia in their final Group D fixture meant Vicente Del Bosque’s team finished second, and a clash between two of Europe’s heavyweights was confirmed.
Ogbonna of course had come up against fellow Hammer Darren Randolph in Lille on Wednesday, with the Irons’ No1 keeping a clean sheet to secure Ireland’s qualification to the round of 16.
That meant all four Hammers at the tournament were through to the next round, with Dimitri Payet’s France and James Collins’ Wales topping their respective groups.
Ogbonna’s opponents Spain – the holding champions – will be hoping to add a third European Championship in a row – a fourth in total – to their collection, while Italy will be keen to progress in a bid to win their second Euros.
With the Spaniards in seemingly imperious form prior to the defeat to Croatia, Ogbonna, speaking after the Ireland clash, knows it will be a tricky tie.
He said: “We are totally focused on the next game against Spain. Every game is really tough, though.
“[The next match] is very complicated. We have to prepare everything everywhere on the pitch. We have to keep our feet on the ground also, so step-by-step, we need to get there. We have to be focused for the match.”
The winners of the last-16 match will face Germany, who comfortably beat Slovakia on Sunday, in the quarter-finals held in Bordeaux.