Gianluca Zambrotta: Italy face the Spain barrier
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
EURO2020.com columnist Gianluca Zambrotta sizes up Italy's semi-final chances against Spain.
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I really liked the spirit, the enthusiasm, the never-give-up attitude Italy showed against Belgium. We knew we were playing against one of the favourites to win EURO 2020 and we took the match on with great determination, character and quality. Italy gave very little to Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, who are great players. It was an excellent performance which gave the Azzurri a well-deserved semi-final against Spain.
Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have known each other for a long time. Chiellini is a very experienced player and the captain of this national team. He made his presence felt against a player in Lukaku who is very difficult to mark. He and Bonucci, together with Gianluigi Donnarumma – who is doing very well – have brought calm to the whole team.
Unfortunately, Leonardo Spinazzola suffered a bad injury. Italy lose a lot without him. He was having a great tournament and was a constant thorn in opponents' sides. I hope he can be back playing again quickly. He deserves to be after such a great EURO. However, Italy have a strong squad and so far whoever has stepped in to fill a gap has always done well.
Spain have taken a more complicated path to the semi-finals than Italy. They drew twice in the group, then needed extra time against Croatia and penalties against Switzerland. However, this is still a Spain side with a very good coach and quality players. Meeting Spain is always difficult; they always like to keep the ball.
Italy, however, will have to play as they have been doing so far, with enthusiasm, spirit, desire and that group strength. They have been particularly good mentally, so the Azzurri won't be afraid to face a team with a big name. We have players who can cause Spain problems and a defence that has only conceded two goals so far.
I think there will be a good duel in midfield: our midfield trio are very skilful, dynamic, fast. Spain play a lot on the wings but we do too with Federico Chiesa, Lorenzo Insigne and Emerson. Our centre-backs Bonucci and Chiellini know Spain forward Álvaro Morata very well from Juventus. It's going to be another great match.