Italy beat Spain in the Euro 2020 semi-final when the match went to penalties after a close 1-1. The Spanish were surely the best team during the 120s, but they couldn’t step up when it mattered most.
Italy stepped onto the pitch hoping to build on their 32-match unbeaten streak, but Spain was also quite confident as they are among the highest-scoring teams in the tournament so far. Both teams have been dominating the game leading up to this match, but one had to go home tonight. FootTheBall brings you 5 things we could learn from the game and from the star player who had the biggest impact throughout the 90s.
1) A NERVOUS MATTER
The game had a tense atmosphere from the start. We agree that the stakes were high and it was probably the most important game these players have ever played in their lives, but the amount of mistakes both sides made in the first 20 minutes was almost ridiculous.
💫 GO PLAY!
Spain’s braided action ends with the high shot of @ mikel10oyar.
– Spanish Soccer Team (@SeFutbol) July 6, 2021
Passes were too short, players were running into offside positions, and tackles were poorly timed. The nerves had really reached even the experienced players on the field. The defenders even gave away a couple of scoring chances, but the attackers couldn’t capitalize on them.
2) SPINAZZOLA WAS VERY MISSING
Leonardo Spinazzola had been one of the best players in the tournament so far. The left-back was doing a lot of damage in both halves of the field and had a great influence on the Italian side.
Unfortunately, he left the court injured in his quarter-final match against Belgium. The youngster’s impact on the Italian team was clearly seen in today’s game, as things seemed a bit out of place without him for Italy.
Spinazzola used to contribute a lot in the final third as his fast runs were a major threat to the opposing baseline. His replacement, Emerson, just couldn’t show the same quality and thus they didn’t create many opportunities on the left flank. Italy would have played much better if Leonardo Spinazzola had been on the pitch tonight.
3) A CATALOG OF OPPORTUNITIES, STARTED
A recurring problem for the Spanish team throughout the national team has been the goal department. They have scored a lot of goals so far, but with the amount of opportunities they create, they should score more of the ball. They dominated the ball throughout the game and created 16 chances in front of goal.
💪🏻 WE DON’T GIVE UP !!
👏🏻 NOW IS WHEN WE NEED YOU MOST !!
– Spanish Soccer Team (@SeFutbol) July 6, 2021
With La Roja’s pedigree of players at the helm, they should definitely have put this game in the first half. Oyarzabal and Ferran Torres had ample opportunities but they looked a bit amateurish when throwing the ball.
4) AFFIRM DOMAIN IN THE CENTER
Midfield was key for both teams tonight, as whoever controls the center also controls the game. Spain was surely the dominant side of the two and that was due to their central midfielders. They kept their form and did well enough to create scoring opportunities.
Italy’s midfield, on the other hand, didn’t look quite as sharp when they were pushed on their back foot. They were too busy defending their target and therefore couldn’t do any damage to the front. Spain had better passes, better possession and better opportunities, all because of the way they controlled the midfield.
5) ITALIAN BACKLINE IMPROVING OVER TIME
Chellini and Bonucci have had good euros so far, but tonight they just couldn’t make a big impact on their game. They had a horrible first 45 when the attackers from Spain trampled them. They also seemed a bit slow as the game progressed into the final minutes.
Italy’s backbone was their central strengths, but because they couldn’t play well, the Italian midfield couldn’t contribute to the other half and kept busy defending most of the game.
Even the goal that Italy conceded was due to a simple double by the Spanish that, on a normal day, would have been a piece of cake for Chellini and company.
STAR PLAYER – FEDERICO CHIESA
– Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@azzurri) July 6, 2021
Italy looked bad before scoring their first goal. Federico’s first goal was not only a beautiful goal, but it also changed the dynamics of the game completely.
After a poor performance throughout the match, the opening goal gave the azzuros a leap in their footsteps as they saw hope sitting in front of them. We got to see Italy get back into their rhythm and that surely helped them take the game to penalties.
Chiesa’s overall performance was also top-notch. Italy had few chances in the first half, but Chiesa did her best to make the most of it as she worked her way down the flanks creating an opening. He even did well in extra time as he created a good opportunity for Belotti. The youngster hasn’t had a great tournament so far, but he would surely be happy with his performance tonight.