The Italian national team made it to the final of the European Football Championship, beating the Spanish national team in a dramatic penalty shootout. In the final, the wards of Roberto Mancini, who have not lost for 33 meetings, will play with England or Denmark.
The Italians showed phenomenal attacking football at this championship, and the team structure is built so well that the loss of any player is compensated by a reserve almost painlessly.
Roberto Mancini put up his classic 4–3‑3. In the centre of the field, Supertrio Jorginho, Marco Verratti, Nico Barella should have provided control. In the top three of the attack, Federico Chiesa finally registered together with Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile.
But Luis Enrique surprised a little, deciding to move away from his standard three central defenders. As is now fashionable, the Spanish mentor mirrored the Italian scheme, obviously, in order not to give the opponent the territory.
The first half ended with a goalless draw — a pretty natural outcome of a very cheerful game that looked like. However, it seemed that the goals were still ahead.
At the beginning of the second half, the speed seemed to have increased even more. At the same time, the Italian national team began to put more pressure on the other half of the field. The “Red Fury” quickly adapted to this but was carried away by force.
It was tough for the Italians to defend themselves, but, having repelled another attack, they ran away into a counterattack launched by Donnarumma. In a tackle already on the border of the penalty area, Emeric Laporte was able to knock the ball out from under Immobili’s feet. Still, he hit Eric Garcia, and Chiesa, who flew forward, was the first to pick up.
The high-speed winger of Juventus worked himself under a comfortable right and sent the ball into the net in the far corner with a beautiful circling shot. Simon just watched them go.
The Spaniards could have won back very quickly and probably should have, but Oyarzabal did not hit the ball with his head from the goalkeeper’s line, which Koke threw to him flawlessly.
And after that, Luis Enrique threw Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno into the fight instead of Torres with Oyarzabal. Mancini also made a lot of substitutions, but more important were the changes of the Spanish mentor.
Morata entered the game actively and successfully. He became a regular recipient of the broadcasts of his partners and began to torment former Juventus teammates Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
And although the striker was often traditionally awkward in the final phase, he found his chance on the 80th. The Spaniards played a brilliant high-speed combination, and Morata beat the wall with Olmo, broke into the penalty area and, being in front of Donnarumma, rolled the ball past the goalkeeper into the left corner, leaving no opportunity to help out.
In the time remaining until the end of the second half, perhaps only Spain had a chance to snatch a victory. However, the Italians have already clearly switched to the mode of holding the account, having established themselves in the status of an underdog.
In the extra time, the drawing was as precise as possible. Italy defended with the last of its strength, no longer even thinking about counterattacks, the opponent pressed. He pressed with a full press and created three opportunities to distinguish himself in the first 15 minutes. But in confusion in the penalty area, the Italians fought back with a touch of mild panic.
But in the second extra half, the Italians suddenly perked up. Domenico Berardi, who came on as a substitute during the game, seriously strained the Spanish defence several times and even scored a goal, however, from an obvious offside, which the linesman recorded after the episode.
And yet the inevitable happened: these two teams in the tournament were too good to lose in any other way. So the fate was decided by a penalty shootout, in which the Italians were luckier.
The Italian national team continues its incredible, already 33-match winless streak and will play England or Denmark in the Euro final at the same stadium on July 11.