Expectations were high for Italy coming into Euro 2020 with Roberto Mancini’s revitalization as the Azzurri manager, while Luis Enrique and Spain have surely exceeded what people thought of La Furia Roja entering this summer.
The two sides will meet in the Euro semi finals on Tuesday with a spot in the title match on the line, and although the Italians enter as a slight betting favorite there’s really not much between the two giants.
The Azzurri have only allowed two goals in five matches, which only trails England in the competition, while Spain have been stout defensively as well with the introduction of Aymeric Laporte after switching his allegiances to La Furia Roja ahead of the Euros.
Here’s a closer look at what the two teams will look like on Tuesday and how the match will turn out.
Italy: Manuel Locatelli, Matteo Pessina, Lorenzo Insigne (2)
Spain: Alvaro Morata, Pablo Sarabia, Ferran Torres (2)
Italy: Leonardo Spinazzola
Spain: Pablo Sarabia
The all-time meetings between the two nations are tight, but the Italians have been outmatched over the past two decades, only winning two fixtures in their last 14 meetings.
Spain holds a narrow advantage all-time with 12 victories to Italy’s 9 wins, with the two teams drawing on 12 occasions.
That includes Spain’s 4-0 beatdown of the Azzurri in 2012 at that year’s final when the Spanish claimed their third major trophy in a span of four years.
Italy’s most recent win came at Euro 2016, while Spain won their most recent meeting against the Azzurri in 2017 during World Cup qualifying.
Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
Spain: Simon; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Torres, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Pedri; Torres, Morata, Olmo
Since 2000, Spain and/or Italy have reached the final in three of the last five European Championships.
Now, one of these two nations can reach yet another title match on Tuesday with a victory. These two countries have very similar styles of play, and that’s what makes this game especially intriguing with just four teams remaining in the competition.
The Azzurri are very much a possession-based side, with their wing backs getting involved in the play very frequently throughout matches. Leonardo Spinazzola was having an incredible tournament before suffering a torn Achilles against Belgium in the quarter finals, but there’s still enough talent to replace him at right back.
Meanwhile, Spain’s tiki taka style very much resembles Barcelona’s teams that have found tremendous winning ways over the years, and with Pedri, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba all involved in the starting team it’s no surprise to see the Barca influence.
The key for both teams comes down to finishing chances in high positions considering Italy and Spain like to press high up the pitch. When the mistakes come from the opposing team, who will make their opponent pay more frequently?
In this year’s Euros, Italy have scored three goals that have come from forced turnovers in the attacking third, which makes the Azzurri extremely dangerous.
Prediction: Italy 3-1 Spain