Italy had been arguably the best and most cohesive team at Euro 2020. They had gone one step further than they did at Euro 2016 with a chance to get to the final but in their track lay the two-time champions Spain. The Italians beat Belgium in the quarter-final but suffered the loss of Leandro Spinazzola. Emerson Palmieri for Spinazzola was the only change from Roberto Mancini.
Spain‘s golden generation has passed on but the pressure they have left on the next generation is palpable. A team that won 3 major consecutive titles between 2008 and 2012. Luis Enrique had the task of galvanizing this inferior squad towards something worthwhile and despite stating earlier in the tournament that his team is “Alvaro Morata and 10 more”, he dropped the striker for a false 9 in Dani Olmo.
Italy thought they had a chance when in the third minute, Emerson Palmieri found Nicolo Barella behind the Spanish defense. He turned and fired a deflected shot that hit the bar. The assistant referee raised his flag. Both sides jostled for possession and La Roja won that battle well in the opening moments.
On 12, Pedri sent a delightful pass behind for Mikel Oyarzabal but the Real Sociedad captain could not get it under control. Italy struggled with Spain’s press and Barella gave it away to Ferran Torres who skipped past Jorginho before shooting wide. On 20 Emerson and the so-far, very quiet Lorenzo Insigne combined and Unai Simon came far away from his line and ended up in no man’s land. Ciro Immobile and Barella could not get their shots away as Sergio Busquets made a vital interception.
Gianluigi Donnarumma was called into action on 25 by Dani Olmo who fired a decent shot. The Italian stopper got down well to save. So far, it was all Spain. The Spaniards dominated the game and squeezed the life out of Italy. The dynamism of Spain’s front 3 made it hard for Italy to keep up. On 31, Koke stole the ball from Marco Verratti before setting up Dani Olmo. The RB Leipzig man skied his shot. Oyarzabal skied a great counterattacking chance in the 39th minute. On the stroke of halftime, Insigne and Emerson combined again before the left-back’s shot thudded off the bar. Half-time Italy 1-1 Spain.
The second half started with nifty tackles and stoppages as both sides scrapped for control. Spain again continued to dominate proceedings. However, Italy took the lead. Insigne worked the ball behind for Ciro Immobile but Aymeric Laporte defended him well and the ball came out to Federico Chiesa who balanced before angling an Insigne-esque shot behind Unai Simon. Italy 1-0 Spain.
Minutes later, Oyarzabal had a glorious chance to restore parity but sent his header wide from in front of goal. Luis Enrique brought on Morata, Gerard Moreno, and surprisingly, Rodri. Morata immediately started making himself a nuisance for his Juventus defenders. The striker came on and after he exchanged passes with Olmo, he finished brilliantly with his left. Italy 1-1 Spain.
With this goal, he became Spain’s top scorer at the European Championship with six, overtaking Fernando Torres who has five. It was all chaos and end-to-end stuff. Full time, Italy 1-1 Spain.
Dani Olmo had been causing Italy problems all night and he won a free kick against Rafael Toloi. He delivered a troubling ball that fell to Morata. Donnarumma saved his effort. Spain continued to apply the pressure. Moreno sent a ball for Morata that had Donnarumma struggling to deal with. Marcos Llorente had come on for Cesar Azpilicueta and he speared a cross into the box but Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci dealt with it.
Alvaro Morata missed his penalty and Jorginho was cool as you like to make him pay. Italy into the final of Euro 2020 where they will face England or Denmark.