Spain prepare for semi-final against Italy
The Spanish national team train ahead their Euro 2020 semi-final clash against Italy.
Italy vs Spain: Line-ups
Italy May Progress to the Final
Italy have emerged victorious from each of their last 13 matches and their last defeat came as far back as September 2018, against Portugal. Though now a distant memory, that loss arrived while the scars of failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup were still yet to heal.
Since then, though, something of a rebirth has seen their manager sift through a number of personnel options, before settling on a relatively youthful, high-energy selection aided by some wise old heads in defence.
Before the knockout stage, Italy had won each of their games in Group A, and before being taken to extra time by Austria they had passed 1000 minutes without conceding. In attack, meanwhile, scoring 11 times at these Euros represents their best tournament tally since firing in 12 to win the 2006 World Cup; building hopes that they can now lift the trophy for the first time since triumphing on home soil in 1968.
Spain had, in fact, already won both of those tournaments after six games, but their semi-final showdown with Italy will be their sixth of this edition – and a game which they come into unbeaten throughout their last 13 fixtures. Seven of those matches ended in draws though, which suggests that their lack of a clinical finisher can sometimes hold back such a slick passing machine.
Should they be unable to break the deadlock at Wembley, they can at least reflect on fond memories from past generations, as two out of their three tournament victories over Italy have come by way of a penalty shootout. Scheduled to meet again in October in the Nations League semi-finals, this will be the 38th meeting between the two Mediterranean countries, with Spain enjoying 13 wins to Italy’s 11 – remarkably, both sides have scored and conceded 51 times in the process.
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.