Spain and Italy will collide in the semifinals of Euro 2020. La Roja have their hands full as they will face an Italian team that has been breaking it recently, with a Unbeaten streak of 32 games.
Implementing a positional play so efficiently is rare at the national team level, but the Azzurri have excelled at it. Another cliché, that Serie A is boring, has been debunked by Roberto Mancini’s Italy, as it is one of the most entertaining and tactically rich leagues in the world.
On Wednesday, Spain will face the toughest test of the tournament and will need to improve their game if they want to have a chance against this ruthless Italian squad.
FOUL OF THE OFFENSIVE FLAIR
Spain has advanced to the semifinals of the European Championship as the highest scoring team in the tournament, although these numbers are quite misleading. The biggest concern in Spain’s quest for a third continental crown in the previous four editions is its shortcomings on the offensive side.
For example, in the quarterfinals, the Spaniards made 28 shots in that game that lasted into extra time and penalties and saw Switzerland fight roughly 45 minutes with one man less. In the end, it looked like target practice against Swiss shooting stopper Yann Sommer, who didn’t let anything get ahead of him.
👊 10 saves during the game.
🧤 Saved a penalty in the penalty shootout.
– SPORF ⚽️➡️🏠🏴 (@Sporf) July 2, 2021
Nonetheless, Luis Enrique’s men ended the 120-minute match on an own goal in a 1-1 draw, and even blew two penalty kicks in the penalty shoot-out that they won 3-1.
The starting forward Álvaro Morata has all the support of Luis Enrique, but it seems that he lacks confidence; It is not the first time in his career.
🤦 Only Álvaro Morata (6) has missed more great chances than Gerard Moreno (4) at Euro 2020.
– 10bet (@ 10betSports) July 2, 2021
Gerard Moreno is Spain’s other forward, and replaced a tired Morata after just 54 minutes against Switzerland. The Villarreal forward, who scored 23 goals in La Liga last season, had at least four clear chances to score, one from within the six-yard box, but missed each and every one.
Spain advanced to the semifinals in an unusual way, tying their first two games, scoring just one of their 29 shots on goal against Sweden and Poland, before finally finding a vanguard in a 5-0 win over Slovakia in the essential match. .
Then came the dramatic 5-3 round of 16 win over Croatia, which appeared to be a defining moment for the Spanish offense. The Swiss game, on the other hand, was demonstrated differently.
REMOVE FOOT FROM PEDDLE
Against Switzerland, in the first half, Spain pressed and played mainly in the middle line and showed conviction in passing. The movements were visible, as was the pattern. And also the own goal, which put them ahead. But what about that big problem they have, the signs of which became visible in the match against Croatia also after they took the lead?
84 ‘: Croatia 1-3 Spain
85 ‘: Croatia 2-3 Spain
90 + 3 ‘: Croatia 3-3 Spain
99 ‘: Croatia 3-4 Spain
PLAY. FROM. THE. TOURNAMENT.
– ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
La Roja simply took their hands off the gear and chose to react to the balls. When they should / could have stepped up to extend the lead, they invited the Swiss to choke them in their half, allowing them to equalize. From 45 ′ to 75 ′, Spain barely had fluid movements, passes and attacks, as the Swiss rear parked just behind the midline.
Without their captain G. Xhaka
Without R. Freuler after 77 min.
Without X. Shaqiri after min 81 ‘.
With 10 men he still managed to lead Spain to the penalty shootout
What a race of the Swiss in the euros
Respect 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/CbiCqSZJRe
– The Soccer Guild (@GuildFootball) July 2, 2021
Spain’s defensive structure has been good, but the gaps that have opened as a result of them taking their foot off the gas are worrying and have been exploited. Spain needs to control the party, even after opening the champagne
They worked very hard to reach the semi-finals, but their victories came thanks to their opponent’s weaknesses, which included possession and pace. A similar strategy would not work or be successful against an offensive and defensive monster like Italy.
WHAT WILL SPAIN NEED TO DO?
In Italy, Spain will find a team that has arguably the best midfield in Europe, is fearsome in attack and is rock solid in defense. When it comes to defense, it’s safe to assume that Spain’s attackers will have their hands full against Chiellini and Bonucci, given that they failed to convert clear chances throughout the tournament. And with Roberto Mancini’s men sending the number one team in Belgium packing up, it’s fair to say that their players are at the peak of their powers.
Luis Enrique would be pleased to know that his team has had six different scorers at Euro 2020. With a tournament high possession rate of 67.2 percent and the highest passing accuracy of all nations at 89.4 percent. cent, the midfield is working well.
La Roja have had 365 attacks in the tournament, 69 more than Italy, which ranks second, according to UEFA data. There are only three teams with more than 200 attacks.
That’s fine if there are consistent forwards around you to finish off those attacks. However, that hasn’t been the case lately, as Spain prepares to face a defensive powerhouse in Italy in the semi-finals.
Forwards will have to seize and capitalize on any scoring opportunity that presents itself. They will also have to defend vigorously, as any clear offensive opportunity offered to the Italians would spell catastrophe for Luis Enrique and his squad.