Euro 2020 So Far
Italy had been the best team at Euro 2020 up until this point. They steamrolled Turkey in the opening game, winning 3-0, they did the same to Switzerland. They closed their group with a controlled 1-0 win over Wales. The Azzurri quickly became everyone’s favorites to win the tournament.
Austria had a blip against a better Netherlands side in between wins over North Macedonia and Ukraine. The aggressive style makes it hard for opponents to play with hard grafters all over the pitch.
Francesco Acerbi replaced Alessandro Bastoni who played against Wales. The maestro Marco Verratti retained his place from the Wales game ahead of Manuel Locatelli. Federico Chiesa had to settle for a place on the bench with Domenico Berardi picked to start. Giovanni Di Lorenzo played at right-back following an injury to Alessandro Florenzi. This was Roberto Mancini and Italy’s second run of 11 straight victories. The only difference is that this time, they have not conceded a goal in that stretch.
Franco Foda started the same team from the Ukraine game.
In the first minute, Di Lorenzo gave away the ball but Christoph Baumgartner’s cross could not be turned in by Marcel Sabitzer. Leandro Spinazzola has been one of the better players at Euro 2020 and he showed it once again in the 16th minute. He made his way down the left before sending his cross and it made its way to Nico Barella. He shot well but Daniel Bachmann of Watford saved well with his foot.
Italy kept forcing the issue and Ciro Immobile came close to opening the scoring on 36 when his long-range shot crashed off the bar. On 42, Lorenzo Insigne cut in before firing low but Bachmann saved comfortably. Half-time Italy 0-0 Austria. Italy had a lot of control but no penetration. They needed more runners behind the strong Austria rear. Marco Verratti and Jorginho are both controllers and prefer runners ahead of them. One of them had to give way for more dynamism in play.
Early in the second half, Domenico Berardi drove into the box but his cross was blocked out by the Austrian defense. Marko Arnautovic twisted and turned the Italian defense inside out but slipped before he could get a good shot away. After some dangerous play at the back by Italy, Di Lorenzo gave away a free-kick in front of the box. David Alaba‘s free-kick veered just wide. Both sides are now making sloppy passes as Italy struggles to gain control. The Austrians were recharged by their efforts in keeping the Azzurri at bay and they saw an opportunity to take the bull by the horn.
Austria’s aggressive play was making it hard for Italy to play. On 62, Sabitzer fired a shot but Leonardo Bonucci’s foot took it wide. From the resulting corner, the ball found its way to Marko Arnautovic who shot but it was gathered by Donnarumma. On 65, Arnautovic put the ball into the back of Donnarumma’s net after Alaba won the ball in the air for him. The goal was canceled as the Austrian forward was adjudged offside.
Mancini brought on Matteo Pessina for Barella and Manuel Locatelli for Nico Barella. Immediately, Pessina spun away from the Austrian midfield before setting up Locatelli who fired wired. A minute later, Italy came again. Di Lorenzo found Ciro Immobile with a raking pass, and he, in turn found Lorenzo Insigne who curled it too wide. On 75, Austria thought they had a penalty when Pessina brought Stefan Lainer down but VAR said no. Rightly so.
On 82, Spinazzola made his first second-half foray into the box and his cross was perfect for Berardi. Rather unnecessarily, the Sassuolo attacker went for a spectacular overhead kick which he skewed. It would be his last action. Federico Chiesa replaced him and Andrea Belotti replaced Immobile. Full-time Italy 0-0 Austria.
In the 5th minute, Italy worked it to Chiesa but Bachmann gathered his shot comfortably. The next attempt could not be saved though. Spinazzola picked out Chiesa who settled it before firing with his left to score. Deadlock broken, Italy 1-0 Austria. Just before the first half of extra-time, Mateo Pessina sealed it. Andrea Belotti held it up before the midfielder fired in. 2-0, the 100th goal at Euro 2020. The Atalanta man was only brought in to replace Stefano Sensi who got injured in the buildup to Euro 2020 but what an addition he has been!
Austria did not get this far being pushovers and they kept plugging away in the second half of extra-time. Louis Schaub fired a powerful shot but Donna’s left hand was strong enough to keep it out. Sabitzer had two bites to equalize and shanked both efforts to his pleasure. If you thought it was going to be straightforward then you do not know Austria. They got a goal back through Sasa Kalajdžić. The Stuttgart man got low to head in a corner. Italy 2-1 Austria. It finished that way! What a game!
Italy makes it into the quarter-final. The second team after Denmark. Spinazzola the man of the match but Chiesa made the difference from the bench and so did Pessina.