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Thursday, February 9, 2023

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takeaways from Italy’s penalty shootout victory over Spain

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It’s good for Italy! Squadra Azzurra climbed to the final of the Euro after eliminating Spain on Tuesday evening at the end of the penalty shoot-out (1-1 ap, 4 tab to 2). It was Chelsea midfielder Jorginho who scored the last shot of the session to send his team to the final at the same Wembley stadium in London on Sunday evening (9 p.m.). The failures of Dani Olmo and Alvaro Morata will have annihilated the hopes of La Roja in this exercise. Italy becomes the second nation to reach the final of a major competition for the tenth time, behind Germany (14).

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La Roja, on the other hand, did not have the same success as it had in the previous round against Switzerland, where it had benefited from the failed shots on goal from the Nati to qualify. The Euro of Spain remains a success all the same while the Iberian selection had not reached this stage of the competition since its victory at Euro 2012.

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The meeting point: Italy, nine years later

A divine resurrection for the Squadra Azzurra. Three years after Italy’s failure in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, coach Roberto Mancini has won his bet to put the Nazionale back on track to finally take them to a tenth final in major competition. A feat that he owes in large part to his united and more efficient collective offensively. His left winger Federico Chiesa, son of former Squadra striker Enrico, was once again the author of a good performance by opening the scoring on the hour mark (1-0). They are now five in the team – Chiesa, Pessina, Insigne, Immobile and Locatelli – to have scored at least two goals in the competition.

Italy then managed to contain the Spanish attacks, yielding only once on all the conceded opportunities. With this semi-final, Italy signs a 32nd consecutive game without defeat and improves a record that it was already breaking in this Euro. La Nazionale can therefore dream of lifting the Henri-Delaunay trophy a second time, long after the victorious Italian team in 1968.

The decisive players: Donnarumma hero, Morata unhappy

In these top matches, there are always heroes. The young Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (22) is undoubtedly the decisive player of this meeting thanks to his save on the attempt by striker Alvaro Morata during the penalty shoot-out. The future goalkeeper of PSG was also shown to his advantage throughout the meeting, stopping the Spanish shots at key moments (25th, 58th, 98th).

A performance that is therefore unfortunate, in this case the player of Juventus Turin Alvaro Morata. Hero of La Roja by his equalization in the 80th minute (1-1), the attacker was then awkward, especially on a volley countered in the penalty area (98th), before missing the fourth shot in the goal of his team. An attempt rejected by the Italian goalkeeper who will not increase the popularity of the Spanish center forward, tirelessly criticized by his own supporters for his repeated lack of efficiency in front of goal.

The facts: Spain’s missed opportunities and Chiellini’s unblocked hand

If Italy owes much of its qualification in the final to its goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, it is because Spain missed a lot of chances during the meeting. His attacking trio Ferran Torres-Olmo-Oyarzabal fished in the finish while he was regularly served in good conditions by the Spanish circles. Real Sociedad striker Mikel Oyarzabal failed several times, first by missing his control at the entrance to the penalty area (13th) then missing his header alone against Donnarumma (65th). His teammate Dani Olmo had no more success, whether in the penalty area by two attempts (25th) or from far (33rd).

Roja captain Sergio Busquets also missed the target after returning from the locker room, while he enjoyed a good situation 20 meters from the Italian goal (52nd). The game could have finally changed at the end of regulation time, when the defender of the Nazionale Giorgio Chiellini found himself on the ground and stopped the ball with his arm (90 ‘). German referee Felix Brych immediately signaled that there would be no penalty, resulting in a feverish extra time between two teams who did not really dare to take any risks.

The performance: Pedri, maestro at 18!

Despite the elimination in the semi-finals, Spain discovered Tuesday night a young midfielder with already exceptional talent. Pedri Gonzalez, 18, made a sensational game on the left side of the Spanish midfielder with his precision and his sense of play. The FC Barcelona midfielder made all of his passes during the game – 60 successful passes out of 60 attempted until the 105th minute -. Better, most of its distributions were made in the opposing camp to try each time to find an offensive solution.

At the start of the game, Pedri executed a remarkable cross which could have been decisive for Oyarzabal, if the attacker had succeeded in his control (13th). In the second half, his handover for Ferran Torres led to another dangerous action for La Roja. In any case, this is an XXL performance by the Spanish nugget that recalls an Iberian football legend, Andres Iniesta, a true metronome in the midfield throughout his career. The young Spaniard plays, like Iniesta, at FC Barcelona. His mastery observed Tuesday evening promises him future great days, in club as in selection.

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