Spain coach Luis Aragones admits he was hoping to avoid Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.
Aragones was speaking ahead of his side’s final Group D match with Greece on Wednesday night.
Regardloess of tonight’s result, Spain now face a quarter-final meeting with Italy after the Azzurri secured a second-placed finish in Group C.
“At this stage of the tournament any opponent was going to be difficult,” Aragones told the Spanish Football Federation’s official website.
“But they aren’t the team I would have most liked to have met. Defensively they are almost perfect.
“We all know what Italy are like and it is not for nothing that they are world champions.
“That tells us everything. They seemed dead and buried and now they are in the quarter-finals.
“Italy know how to cope with the good and bad times and their history shows that they have some enormously talented and hard-working players.”
Spain have never beaten Italy at the finals of a major tournament.