After a nail-biting quarter-final, with none from ‘Group of Death’ progress, all eyes on another classic old rivalry clash between Gli Azzurri and La Roja.
Spain’s best performance in European Championships 2020
It is somehow bizarre to think how the Italians and Spaniards faced the knockout rounds of the European Championships for the fourth time in a row. To get to the last four, Spain’s journey has been far from smooth despite having created numerous chances in front of goal. Meanwhile, Italy set a tone for success with an impressive 3-0 victory in their first game in Rome after missing out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup. While making their way to the final stages of the competition, both fought hard to claim their place in the semi-finals; alas, there got to be only one winner after excellent performance from both teams at Wembley last night.
One can say that Roberto Mancini’s Italy have arguably shown the most consistent side throughout the competition, and they seem to have more than enough quality left in the tank to complete the job. Luis Enrique’s young players dominated possession where they could and should have been at least a goal from their side. This quartet of Spanish midfielders, Sergio Busquets, Pedri Gonzalez, and Koke, have all performed admirably to win the midfield battle by limiting Italians to counters. La Roja, however, was surprisingly excellent – with some tremendous pressure, it was the most challenging half Italy have had in Euro 2020.
Italy were Spinazzola-dependent
The Azzurri struggled to get into the game with the absence of their standout player, Leonardo Spinazzola due to an Achilles tendon injury in the thrilling quarter-final victory over Belgium – it could be, they were Spinazzola-dependent. For a time, it looked as though Italy would wrap up in normal time through Federico Chiesa’s gorgeous curling shot in the 60th minute. The game’s intensity went through the roof right after, as the Spaniards pressing high in search of a tie.
Over time, the rip-roaring second half swayed back and forth before we were able to witness the aftereffects of a drawn-out fight. The often criticized Alvaro Morata – came on as a substitute to rescue and eventually dragged the game into a penalty shoot-out after scoring the equalising goal with ten minutes left in the game. For a team that many had previously written off, but rather than no one imagined, the team actually outperformed expectations. Spain were undoubtedly the better team, but they wasted at least four good chances, and again their poor finishing cost them.
Exciting days for Luis Enrique’s squad
The elimination at the hands of Italy after Jorginho’s decisive penalty kick might break Spainish hearts, yet a bright future awaits these talented rising stars. Though La Roja looked more promising on the pitch, sadly, it wasn’t enough to stop the formidable version of this Azzurri, who were far more composed in absorbing pressure, aside from experienced players. Nevertheless, Spain should be proud of themselves for playing such beautiful football, which will be better for Qatar World Cup in 2022.
Azzurri’s fairytale continues
Football can be cruel sometimes, but the beauty of this sport brings people to come together and fans to cry in defeat and shout out in triumph. The revival of the Italian national team under Mancini has what it takes to win the Henri Delaunay Trophy; anything short of winning the tournament will be considered a failure. Not only have their players helped them make it this far, but every single one of them has added tremendous value to the team’s success.
Perhaps the most devoted Italian fans could not have predicted that their team would advance all the way to the final, but now it appears more plausible to say that they can actually bring the trophy home – reclaim its glory in 1968 when they became European Champions for the first time. This may very well serve as the moment for redemption for the Azzurri after years of obscurity since 2006.