Euro 2020 semi-final: Italy vs. Spain preview, predictions and team news
Two European heavyweights go head-to-head at Wembley
Italy against Spain in a European Championship semi-final at Wembley Stadium - it promises to be classic, says Alan Feehely of Football Espana. The Italians head to the home of English football with a 32-match unbeaten run behind them while Spain are the tournament’s highest-scoring team with 12 goals in five matches.
For both head coaches - Italy’s Roberto Mancini and Spain’s Luis Enrique - they now have Euro glory in their sights. After his team beat Belgium 2-1 in the quarter-finals Mancini believes the Azzurri will go to Wembley “safe in the knowledge that we are a team that can still offer a lot in this tournament”. However, he added, “we know that we will be up against top-class opposition once again because Spain, like Belgium, are very tricky opponents”.
Enrique is “proud” of his squad for reaching the semi-finals, but like the other three nations he doesn’t want the Euro run to end now. “It’d be ridiculous to think that we, or any of the semi-finalists, would sign for just getting this far now – all of us want to get to the final and win,” he said.
It’s hard to decide between the two teams for this “iconic clash”, but no matter who the favourites are “it’s going to be an absolute barnstormer”, says 90min’s Max Cooper. The winners will play England or Denmark in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley on Sunday.
What the bosses are saying
Mancini, Italy: “It will be difficult, even if Spain are different from Belgium. It will not be the same kind of game compared to the previous one, but it will present many difficulties for sure. Spain have been extraordinary for years, even if now there has been a change and they are a younger side. They have a good coach and very good players.”
Enrique, Spain: “I don’t think both of us can dominate, so it’ll be interesting to see who wins this tussle. Apart from having top players, Italy are a real team. They attack and defend as a unit, which is really similar to what we do. They also employ a high press, which it would be hard to imagine an Italian side from the past doing. Now they’re strong in several ways of playing, meaning that the game will be really interesting. Both teams will have their moments.”
Kick-off time and TV details
The semi-final clash between Italy and Spain takes place on Tuesday 6 July at Wembley Stadium in London. Kick-off is at 8pm (BST) and is live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from 7pm.
Italy team news
The Azzurri have been dealt a huge blow with the injury to Leonardo Spinazzola, “one of the best players in the whole tournament”, says the BBC. The Roma left-back ruptured his Achilles tendon in the win over Belgium and is expected to be out for around six months.
Italy possible starting XI: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
Spain team news
Spain winger Pablo Sarabia suffered an abductor strain in the quarter-final win against Switzerland and will miss the match at Wembley, the Daily Mail reports. Head coach Enrique confirmed that the 29-year-old is the only player ruled out. “They are all available apart from Pablo Sarabia, who is not going to be able to be in the game,” he said.
Paris Saint-Germain star Sarabia has scored two goals at Euro 2020 and also provided two assists. Dani Olmo is likely to replace him and start against Italy.
Spain possible starting XI: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Eric García, Laporte, Jordi Alba; Koke/Llorente, Busquets, Pedri; Ferran Torres, Morata, Olmo
Pundit predictions: who will reach the final?
Max Cooper, 90min: “Italy have stepped up to every challenge thrown their way this summer, and the victory over Belgium was only further proof that this team can go all the way. Spain on the other hand, have somewhat limped towards the semi-finals, and they’ve been far less convincing in their success. La Roja also needed extra-time to defeat Croatia, and penalties to overcome Switzerland, meaning they might be carrying some heavy legs for the big semi-final. That will play into Italy’s hands, and we can see Gli Azzurri’s high-intensity style breaking Spain. There’s goals in both these sides, and we think Italy will run out as eventual winners, with both teams to score. Prediction: Italy 3-1 Spain.”
The Telegraph: “Spain are a difficult team to assess: their statistics are impressive but it is hard to shake the impression there is an underlying brittleness there. Ferran Torres operating on the right could cause Italy problems, especially without Spinazzola at left-back. Italy will almost be playing Spain at their own game, trying to press high and dominate possession, and we fancy them to have too much intensity for their opponents. Verdict: Spain 1 Italy 2.”
Alex Young, London Evening Standard: “Spain were back to their toothless best against Switzerland, scrapping past them on penalties after missing a host of chances, and coming up against an inspired Yann Sommer. Italy, on the other hand, were pushed all the way by Belgium but still looked a fearsome threat. There’s only one winner in my eyes and the Azzurri should wrap it up in normal time, 3-1.”
Jonathan O’Shea, SportsMole: “These nations meet for a third successive Euros and this latest encounter is an incredibly difficult one to call, with only a few moments of individual quality likely to separate them over the course of 90 minutes - and possibly beyond. Italy may progress to the final, however, as their greater cutting edge when it matters is potentially the decisive factor. Spain, though, can deny them possession and are capable of upsetting their mesmerising rhythm, so cannot be counted out. We say: Italy 2-1 Spain.”
Aditya Hosangadi, SportsKeeda: “Italy are the only team to have won all their matches so far at Euro 2020 and are on a historic unbeaten streak under Roberto Mancini at the moment. The Azzurri’s resurgence has taken the Euros by storm and has been one of the most pertinent talking points of the tournament so far. Spain have also exceeded expectations this year and have defied their skeptics by pulling off some impressive results at the Euros. Italy have all their bases covered, however, and hold a slight upper hand going into this knock-out fixture. Prediction: Italy 2-1 Spain.”