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Euro 2020 Semifinals: Italy Beats Spain on Penalties to Reach Final

Euro 2020 Italy
Euro 2020: Italy after winning the semifinal against Spain. Credit: Nazionale Italiana di Calcio / Facebook

Italy knocked out Spain in the semi-finals of the Euro 2020 after an entertaining game with two opponents both worthy of their place in the final four of the European Championship. Italy opened the score with Federico Chiesa in the 60th minute with Spain equalizing in the 81st minute with Alvaro Morata. Incredible game by 18 year-old Pedri who had 55/55 passes in normal time and 65/67 in the whole 120′. Italy had previously knocked out Belgium during the quarterfinals.

First Half: As per usual, Spain controlled the ball in the first twenty minutes, holding possession (70%) but creating no chances. It wasn’t until the 25th minute that goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarruma was needed to block Dani Olmo’s shot from inside the box.

Spain’s possession continued, reminding us that though they’re not considered favorites compared to their magisterial squad of the early 2010’s, they still have the ability to keep the ball in their feet and tire their components. Italy has been highly energetic this tournament but in the first half they just seemed a level below Spain.

By the 30th minute, Spain had already completed double the passes Italy had, an example of the latter’s inability to dictate the game. The Squadra Azzurra however, did not remain apathetic, trying to make things happen but in the end failed to create but just one chance and that wasn’t until the 45th minute.

Spain’s ability to win the ball back is what seemed the major difference in the first half of the game with Italy having over twenty turnovers in their half of the field. Another interesting stat is that the Azzurri created 51 chances in their previous 5 first-halves in the Euro whereas against the Spaniards, they just shot the ball once.

Second Half:

Similarly to the first half, the Iberians continued dominating, resulting – early in the second half – in a great chance missed by FC Barcelona’s holding midfielder, Sergio Busquets. The veteran and one of the last remaining players of Spain’s golden era, hit the ball from outside the box, nearly missing the target after an excellent run from the left and a pass by Oyarzabal. Italy responded with an easily blocked Frederico Chiesa shot (52′). Oyarzabal again had a shot from outside the box (55′) but that was also easily blocked by the Italian and former AC Milan goalkeeper.

Italy began bringing in that energy all fans had hoped for and it was in the 60th minute that a counter attack saw the ball land in Juventus winger Chiesa’s feet who curled a right-footed shot from inside the box which landed in the back of the net (1-0).

The 58.000 fans who attended Wembley stadium in London (largest crowd in the Euro thus far) saw Oyarzabal miss one of those chances that barely is lost when Koke chipped the ball but the former failed to head the ball in front of an open goal. Five minutes later, Spain responded again with Dani Olmo who had another shot outside the box that barely missed the target.

Spain‘s high pressure gave the opportunity to Italy to counter attack again in the 80th minute but Domenico Berardi of Sassuolo FC aimed on Unai Simon who blocked the shot.

In the 81st minute Alvaro Morata – whose family was threatened after his glorious misses in the group stage – equalized for Spain with his 6th goal in all Euro championships (top goalscorer for Spain). Dani Olmo assisted, Alvaro Morata with a lovely tap finished and 1-1.

Italian manager Roberto Mancini replaced Barella and Insigne for Locatelli and Belotti, while on the other side Luis Enrique brought in Marcos Llorente for Cezar Azpilicuet. Nothing changed until the end though and as such the game headed into extra-time.

Euro 2020: Italy vs Spain Extra-Time

Pedri and Sergio Busquets retook over the middle from Jorginho and Spain came out looking like the most threatening side but just like the first half they were unsuccessful in scoring.

Italy had little gas left in the tank – a result of Spain’s +65% possession and 800 completed passes compared to italy’s 300 (!) – and no rabbits to pull out of their hats. However, against the game’s stream, Italy found the net with Berardi only to see his goal flagged as an offside (110′). The remaining ten minutes of the game were procedural in nature as both team’s players had decided to settle their differences in the penalty shoot-out.

Penalties: 4-2

  1. Manuel Locatelli          – Dani Olmo          X

2. Andrea Belotti             – Gerard Moreno    O

3. Leonardo Bonucci     – Thiago Alcantara O

4. Federicho Bernadeschi – Alvaro Morata  X

5. Jorginho                     


Starting Line-Ups:

Italy: 21 Gianluigi Donnarumma, 2 Giovanni Di Lorenzo, 19 Leonardo Bonucci, 3 Giorgio Chiellini, 13 Emerson, 18 Nicolo Barella, 8 Jorginho, 6 Marco Verratti, 14 Federico Chiesa, 17 Ciro Immobile, 10 Lorenzo Insigne

Spain: 23 Unai Simon, 2 Cesar Azpilicueta, 12 Eric Garcia, 18 Jordi Alba, 24 Aymeric Laporte, 26 Pedri, 5 Sergio Busquets, 8 Koke, 11 Ferran Torres, 21 Mikel Oyarzabal, 19 Daniel Olmo

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