EURO2020 Semi-final PREVIEW: Italy vs Spain

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Italy vs Spain
Italy vs Spain

Italy and Spain go head to head in a European Championship knockout game for the fourth tournament in a row, with a place in the Euro 2020 final against England or Denmark up for grabs.

This is the countries’ seventh meeting in the Euros, with Spain’s only win in 90 minutes coming in the 2012 final – which they won 4-0. Italy beat Spain in the last 16 at Euro 2016.

Spain are looking for a third European title in four events, while Italy have surprisingly only won it once, all the way back in 1968.

The game is at Wembley, the same venue as Wednesday’s match between England and Denmark and Sunday’s final.

There are unlikely to be too many fans of either side at the game. Anybody flying from Spain or Italy into England would have to quarantine and therefore not be able to attend.

Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina says they have been given 125 tickets – out of a possible 60,000 crowd.

“It is unfair that there are no fans from Italy and Spain,” said Italy boss Roberto Mancini. “But it is better to play in front of the public than in front of a few people – that is the beauty of sport.”

Spain manager Luis Enrique said he hoped there would be plenty of Spanish and Italians who live in the UK in the crowd.

“It is a strange situation. I hope there are Spanish and Italians more than English fans, but they are things we cannot control,” he said. “I am not going to waste any energy on it. We wish it was different but we accept it.”

Italy – who are unbeaten in almost three years – have been arguably the most impressive team in Euro 2020 so far.

They won all three group games before beating Austria in extra time and then Belgium, the number one ranked team in the world, 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

But they will be without left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who has been one of the best players in the tournament, after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon against Belgium. The 28-year-old Roma player has had surgery and is set to be sidelined for around six months.

Spain have been less impressive – winning just one of their five games in 90 minutes.

A 5-0 win over Slovakia in the final group game took them through after two draws. They beat Croatia 5-3 in extra time in the last 16 – having led 3-1 with 10 minutes to go – and then beat Switzerland on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Unlike some other teams at Euro 2020, both managers have enjoyed great success as bosses in club football.

Spain’s Enrique won the treble with Barcelona – and another La Liga title. Italy’s Mancini won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan and the Premier League with Manchester City, as well as six cups in Italy, England and Turkey.

“In the last 20 years Spain have dominated world football so I don’t think they will change their style of play now,” Mancini said.

“They have a style of play, invented by them, which has led them to extraordinary successes and they continue to do it well.

“Ours will be slightly different, we are Italian and we cannot suddenly become Spanish. We will try to play our game.”

Team news

Spinazzola’s place in the Italy starting line-up is likely to go to Chelsea left-back Emerson.

Spain winger Pablo Sarabia is a major doubt after being forced off with a muscle problem against Switzerland and may be replaced by Dani Olmo.

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