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    Tactical Analysis: Spain vs. Italy

    Excerpts of this Tactical Analysis: Spain vs. Italy article from July 8, 2021 by Luke James (@LukeJames_32) are courtesy of Breaking the Lines

    Courtesy of

    After one of the most entertaining nights of Euro 2020, Italy won only their 5th penalty shootout in their footballing history. It only took 23 shots, two magnificent goals and 120 minutes of semi-final football to get to the nail-biting conclusion. In the first half, it became very apparent that Spain were not going to let Italy play through midfield like they have done so far at Euro 2020.

    The front line dropped back to help man-mark Jorginho, Nicolo Barella, and Marco Verratti, limiting Roberto Mancini’s side to just 1 shot in the first half. The next 45 minutes brought us goals though. First, Italy made a superb counter attack that included a delightful outside-of-the-boot ball from Lorenzo Insigne, which was then intercepted brilliantly by Aymeric Laporte, but only to seal a sensational finish from Federico Chiesa. His curling shot left Unai Simon glued to the turf, and sent Wembley into pandemonium.

    With 10 minutes left and Spain pushing, Luis Enrique’s side found their equaliser through a rare bit of total chaos from Italy. Alvaro Morata was allowed first to drop deep to the centre circle, then make a 180-degree turn and arrow straight through a strangely empty Italian midfield. A simple one-two with Dani Olmo gave him the space to finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

    Extra-time came and went, with the only highlight being Barcelona’s Pedri misplacing his first pass of the match. For the previous 105 minutes and 60 attempted passes, he had a 100% pass accuracy. However extra Italian bodies brought on managed to keep Italy’s defensive block afloat, and it sent the game to a penalty shootout.

    Manuel Locatelli’s opening penalty miss threatened to pile early pressure on the Italians. The worry was short-lived though, as Dani Olmo fired Spain’s first penalty into the stands. It then took until penalty number four for either side to miss again, as Morata’s tame low spot-kick was saved easily by Donnarumma.

    The daunting task of sending Italy through was left in the cool embrace of Chelsea’s Jorginho. He effortlessly outwitted Simon, waiting for the Atletico Bilbao keeper to inch towards his right-hand corner, only for Jorginho to place it the opposite way and send his nation through to the Euro 2020 final.

    For morning on the Tactical Analysis Spain vs. Italy by by Luke James (@LukeJames_32), please go to Breaking The Lines at

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