Though there was plenty to admire from both sides, neither Italy nor Spain could break the deadlock in their opening group fixture.
Previous winners of the UEFA European Football Championship, both teams knew the size of the task that awaited them in a section also including England and Belgium. With only the country finishing top going through to the final, this first assignment was always likely to be decisive.
The hosts, aided by the space granted to them by Spain's deep-lying sweeper José Ramón Alexanco, often had more of the play in Milan but were still unable to unpick the lock. Claudio Gentile was the Azzurri's most influential figure but only came as close as forcing a smart near-post save from Luis Arconada.
Despite his team often surrendering possession, Jesús Zamora was a match for Giancarlo Antognoni's excellence in midfield and Spain made the better opportunities. Jesús Satrústegui had a goal disallowed, Quini should have done better with a header from Dani's free-kick, and Juanito chipped a set piece against the bar after 70 minutes.
That notorious old enforcer Romeo Benetti came on to quell Quini in expert fashion, and Italy held out. They did so, however, with concern that the strike partnership of Roberto Bettega and Francesco Graziani was beginning to creak at the edges.