Euro Daily: July 6, 2021
The first European Championship semi-final takes place later today, with Italy and Spain ready to fight for a place in the tournament exhibition.
Below you can check out five things you need to know about Tuesday’s action.
1) Familiar faces
Those familiar with the latest editions of the euro will, of course, be aware that tonight’s showdown marks far from the first between Italy and Spain.
In fact, it is remarkable that the two nations have gone head to head in each of the last three European Championship campaigns.
La Roja proved to be dominant in the previous two, first on its way to glory in the quarter-finals in 2008, and then again extensively with four goals to zero in the final of the 2012 tournament.
However, it was Italy who enjoyed the last laugh when things look like, after sending their upcoming opponents into the pack in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.
Will the Azzurri win back-to-back victories over La Roja at Wembley tonight? Or will Spain’s dominance once again be on its way to a 3rd final in the last four editions of the euro?
Italy and Spain go head to head for the fourth European tournament in a row ecutive️ pic.twitter.com/YUtPq8KbIW
– 101 big goals (@ 101greatgoals) July 3, 2021
2) Spin stroke
In the build-up to tonight’s clash in London, much of the chatter before the match has obviously surrounded how Italy plans to replace sideline Leonardo Spinazzola.
Explosive wing-back Spinazzola had proved one of the players in Euro 2020 until last week, illuminating Azzurri’s left flank thanks to an impressive mix of pace, touch and sheer directness.
In return, it came as a big blow to not only the player himself, but also his country, as the AS Roma star was ruled out for the rest of the tournament this weekend. After being carried out of the Italians’ victory in the quarter-finals over Belgium, subsequent medical tests revealed that ‘Spina’ had suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The 28-year-old is therefore expected to be out of action for the next six months.
Chelsea man Emerson Palmieri is likely to step into his place to the left of Italy’s back-fire versus Spain. The defender – also formerly Roma – has so far proved to be a solid player across his 17 international caps. However, he simply does not present the same kind of attack threat as the one introduced by Spinazzola, an obstacle that the Azzurri must overcome in a few hours.
3) Azzurri eye La Roja record
If Italy, despite their staffing problems, manages to get better with Spain, then Roberto Mancini’s men will come closer to becoming the new owners of a worldwide international record.
That benchmark comes in the form of the longest ever undefeated streak on the international stage.
As things stand, the Azzurri has rattled off 32 games without suffering a single defeat. This marks the 3rd longest row ever, just behind Brazil and, you guessed it, their opponents at Wembley on Tuesday.
La Roja criticized a striking 35 straight excursions without tasting defeat between 2007 and 2009, a stretch that included a title-winning campaign in Euro 2008.
Italy now stands alone with the 3rd longest unbeaten streak in the history of men’s international football 👏👏🇮🇹
Will they capture Brazil and Spain? pic.twitter.com/hHJU8bu92k
– FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2021
Italy, in turn, will be fully aware that nothing more than a victory will suffice later today, not only to keep their hopes of the euro alive, but also to stay inside with a shot at securing a piece of international football history.
4) Juventus showdown
Hope to prevent Mancini and co. from exactly it becomes Alvaro Morata.
Spain’s attacking spearhead has, of course, endured a less than ideal tournament to date this summer on its way to a two-goal move, which given the quality of carved chances really should have been much, much higher.
However, Morata will no doubt be extra motivated to add to his squad tonight at the expense of a couple of Juventus teammates.
Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci (especially the latter) have proven to be fully integrated into the success that the Azzurri have had over the last few weeks, defying their respective physical limitations for manning a typically tough Italian backline.
The Bianconeri duo were widely hailed for their champion class in defense last time, keeping Romelu Lukaku in shape completely in check on their way to a 2-1 victory over Belgium.
– Bastian Schweinsteiger (@BSchweinsteiger) July 2, 2021
Off-color Morata, however, could still leap a surprise at Wembley, with the loaned Juve hitman no doubt fully accustomed to the harsh treatment of Italy’s legendary midfield pairing and possibly even boasting a trick or two up his sleeve.
5) The immobile storm
Our last talking point, which is worth noting for what will no doubt prove to be a clash to remember later today, concerns the recent controversy surrounding the Ciro Immobile.
Roberto Mancini’s first-choice hitman has also been widely criticized in recent days over a somewhat embarrassing piece of playacting versus Belgium. This came in the build up of Nicolo Barella’s fine opener as Immobile went down to the ground in what seemed to be a bit of a pain in the penalty area.
However, after watching Barella’s strike hit the net, the Lazio striker was miraculously healed of his ailment and jumped back on his feet before joining his Azzurri teammates in their manic parties.
“It’s pathetically funny, isn’t it?” 😂
– BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 2, 2021
Immobile’s actions saw the 31-year-old marked as ‘pathetic’ by English legend Alan Shearer, which triggers something of a heated back and forth between fans of the two nations across social media.
However, could Italy’s underfront frontman still have the last laugh? A lone goal tonight could well see that the defending obedient Italians were in the final of Euro 2020, where none other than England – who are set to take Denmark in the competition’s second semifinal – are heavy favorites to wait for the nap …