By Piero Fiorino & Richard Bowman
The Mediterranean Derby saw Italy defeat Spain 2-0 in what was an Italian performance that not many people expected. Italy matched Spain in the midfield and constantly outworked them. Spain never really looked comfortable even when Italy decided to just sit back and wait for the counter in the second half. Italy would take the lead in the 33rd minute as Eder’s free kick forced a rebound that Chiellini was able to put away. Then in the 90+ minute, it was Graziano Pelle that shattered Spain’s lock on Europe. Italy will now face Germany in the Quarterfinals in what should be a great game with history on the Azzurri’s side.
Starting Lineups + Subs
Daniele De Rossi
Mattia De Sciglio
Eder’s free kick leads to an Italy goal as Chiellini puts it in off the rebound.
Pelle puts Spain away with a volley in stoppage time.
Piero Fiorino: Italy played one of their best games since their magical run in the 2006 world cup. Italy was surprisingly more attack-heavy against Spain, which created a multitude of chances that kept the Spanish on their heels. Giorgio Chiellini opened up the scoring with a tap-in goal off of a David De Gea save before Graziano Pelle capped off the performance with a second goal in the 91st minute. The Azzurri will look to ride this momentum into their next match as they will meet Germany in the final 8 on Saturday, July 2nd.
Piero’s Grade: A-
Richard Bowman: What a game for the Azzurri. This could have easily been a 4-1 win for Italy or even more if not for David De Gea coming up with great saves. It became apparent from the start that Italy’s 3-5-2 was going to cause Spain’s midfield some problems and it did for basically the whole game. Italy was also routinely able to beat Spain on the counter as Italy’s speed was too much for Spain’s backline. Italy would have gotten an A+ from me but I thought they waited for the counter way too much in the second half and it almost cost them late, however, Buffon was able to come up big for Italy and put a stop to any Spanish comeback.
Richard’s Grade: A
Man of the Match
Piero Fiorino: Giorgio Chiellini
Analysis: Giorgio Chiellini brought out his rare attack form against Spain, as he netted the games first goal in the 33rd minute. Although he did play more offensively than usual, Chiellini was, as always, the anchor of the Azzurri defense. Chiellini made multiple deflections and challenged the Spain attack which helped to bring Italy to a much-needed win over their rivals.
Richard Bowman: Eder
Analysis: Say what you want about Eder but he plays his you know what off. Eder was constantly making runs putting pressure on Spain for most of the game before coming off for Lorenzo Insigne late. Eder kicked a hard ball at De Gea which caused a rebound for Giorgio Chiellini as Italy went up 1-0. Eder did miss a breakaway chance in the second half which would have put Spain away but I’ll still reward him for his hard work on the pitch today.
Players That Need to Step Up vs Germany
Piero Fiorino: Eder
Analysis: Eder is still having his issues with his touch, and now he can’t even seem to find the back of the net when he does control the ball. Eder will have to step up against Germany, especially since the Azzurri will be missing Thiago Motta next match.
Richard Bowman: Daniele De Rossi
Analysis: Okay, De Rossi was really good for Italy against Spain, however, he went off for Thiago Motta after about 50 minutes due to what looked to be an injury. Italy will need De Rossi to potentially play 90+ minutes against Germany with Motta now out vs Germany due to a suspension.
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