MADRID: Spain’s March 5 friendly against Italy – the last match before coach Vicente Del Bosque names the squad for his World Cup defence – will go ahead.

Reports from Rome had suggested that the Italian federation – and/or coach Cesare Prandelli – had expressed reservations about playing a game which might be repeated for real in the knockout stages of the World Cup finals in Brazil in June and July.

However the Spanish federation has insisted that the game, at Atletico de Madrid’s Estadio Vicente Calderon, will go ahead as originally scheduled. The match will be the 33rd meeting between the nations with 10 wins for Italy, nine for Spain and 13 draws.

Del Bosque is expcted to pick Atletico’s Brazil-born striker Diego Costa for the first time.

Costa, 19-goal top scorer in the Spanish league this season, committed himself last autumn to playing for his adopted country. Del Bosque called up Costa for November’s friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa but he had to withdrawn because of injury.

Spain begin the defence of their world title at this year’s finals in Brazil in Group B in Salvador on June 13¬†against the Dutch opposition they beat 1-0 in the 2010 final. They also play Chile and Australia.

Italy open their World Cup campaign against England in Manaus.