Spaniards worried about June 22 precedents
There is a guarded optimism in Spain regarding Sunday's Euro 2008 quarter-final showdown against Italy - as long as the game isn't decided by penalties, reported dpa.
An opinion poll in Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo revealed on Friday, that 52 per cent of readers believe that Luis Aragones' young side can beat the reigning world champions.
A similar poll in Madrid paper AS, however, showed that no less than 58 per cent of readers think that Spain will go out against Roberto Donadoni's team.
The AS poll might be the consequence of the paper pointing out that Spain have not beaten Italy in an official competition since the 1920 Olympic Games.
The poll might also have been conditioned by AS' revelation that June 22, the date for the Spain-Italy clash, has terrible precedents for "La Seleccion" - particularly with regard to penalty shootouts.
On June 22, 1986, Spain lost on penalties to Belgium in the World Cup quarter-finals. The same day 10 years later Spain crashed out of Euro 96 on penalties against England.
And it was on June 22, 2002, that "La Seleccion" bowed out of the 2002 World Cup finals - on penalties in the quarter-finals against co-hosts South Korea.
More than 10 million Spaniards are expected to watch Sunday's showdown, many of them on massive open-air screens, hoping that David Villa and company can finish off Italy without having to endure the agony of another June 22 penalty shootout.