ITALY VS SPAIN
The bitterness of 2012 might have been diluted after the mini-revenge of 2016, but the historic rivalry between the two countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea lives on. Euro 2020 is prepared for a blockbuster semi-final fixture as Italy takes on Spain at the historic Wembley Stadium and stakes will be at an all-time high.
Both Italy and Spain have had their share of success in the 2000s, with Italy winning the 2006 World Cup and Spain making a record hat-trick of Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. But haven’t been at their best ever since. Both the countries faced difficulty in replacing their golden generation and had almost a decade of transition.
EURO 2020 semi-finals set ✅
🇮🇹🆚🇪🇸 Italy vs Spain
🏴🆚🇩🇰 England vs Denmark
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) July 3, 2021
However, at Euro 2020, the teams have returned to their best and are now in the final four of the tournament, and it is set to be a thrilling knockout encounter between the two European giants.
Italy crossed the group stage with ease, winning all three of their games without conceding once. And the knockout games couldn’t affect their stride either. Austria kept Italy from scoring in the 90 minutes, but couldn’t stretch it any further and Italy netted twice in extra time to secure a comfortable win.
Their most difficult challenge turned out to be the easiest when they toyed with Belgium and secured another 2-1 win keeping more of the ball and not giving up the control of the match.
La Roja hasn’t been as convincing as their opponents, but have found the ideal results one way or the other. After finishing runner ups in the group to Sweden, Spain faced a competent Croatia in the Round of 16 who stunned Luis Enrique’s side with two late goals to take the tie into extra time.
Spain, however, scored two in extra time without reply and got through to the next round. It was another draining 120-minute fixture for Spain as they couldn’t get the winner against a diligent Swiss side. The game was decided in the favour of Spain on penalties.
What’s happened won’t matter and it will be a fresh start for both teams on Tuesday as they fight for a place in the final of Euro 2020
Italy had a depleted squad at the start of the tournament with many key players sitting out injured. Marco Verratti returned to fitness in time, but Italy lost their star player and one of their best performers so far Leonardo Spinazzola with a torn Achilles. As of now, Italy has both of their preferred fullbacks injured with Alessandro Florenzi being injured earlier.
Can't stress enough how important this moment was. Get well soon, Leo 💪 https://t.co/54l7xXO1Pj
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) July 2, 2021
There are no suspensions in the disciplined Italian side and Roberto Mancini is likely to go with a preferred 4-3-3 formation.
Italy Probable Lineup: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Emerson; Verratti, Jorginho, Barella; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne
Luis Enrique has no major injury concerns and no suspensions either. La Roja will field their strongest eleven in what is their most difficult game of the tournament so far.
📸 NUESTRO ONCE…
… ¡Y EL DE TODA ESPAÑA!
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SEFutbol) July 2, 2021
Enrique has used a 4-3-3 formation too, with a dynamic midfield of Koke, Sergio Busquets and Pedri
Spain Probable Lineup: Simon; Azpilicueta, Laporte, P. Torres, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Pedri; F. Torres, Morata, Sarabia
Lorenzo Insigne has had a splendid tournament so far and needs to continue the form against Spain if Italy is to go through to their first Euro final since 2012, where they were battered by Spain.
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) July 3, 2021
Insigne makes the most of his diminutive structure which helps him dribble past defenders with ease. Operating from the left flank, Insigne likes to cut in and find shooting spaces, or get to the byline and send the ball in for his teammates to score. He scored a superb goal from outside the box against Belgium which eventually turned out to be the winner.
The Manchester City youngster has been a great asset for Luis Enrique in the tournament and helped his team in key moments with two goals and an assist so far. He likes to dribble his way past defenders and isn’t afraid of taking his shot at the goal. The 22-year old will be crucial against Italy as his pace and dribbling can trouble the ageing Italian defence which is rarely beaten in the air.
Enrique will be counting on the young Spaniard, along with Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal to find the crucial breakthrough that can allow them to sit back and hold off the zealous Italian side.
It rarely goes according to plan in knockouts and no matter who weighs heavy on paper, the result always depends on who had the more hunger to survive and come out victorious. Italy has shown great determination and eagerness to succeed since the arrival of Roberto Mancini and is on a record-breaking 32-game unbeaten streak currently.
But they will be facing a well-balanced and persistent Spanish side who like to control the tempo of the game and dominate the ball in the attacking half. The result will depend on which side’s tactics turn out to be successful on the day as both teams are led by proven and successful managers.
FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 win for Italy in the closely fought tie, sending them through to the final.