By Piero Fiorino & Richard Bowman
Italy vs Spain is almost like big brother vs little brother for years it was Italy as the dominate big brother to Spain, but for the past 8 year’s Spain’s dominance has overshadowed inconsistent Italy. These two teams will now meet for the third time in the past three European Championships. In 2008, it was Spain beating Italy on penalty kicks in a win that jump started Spain on their way to three consecutive major tournament wins including another win over Italy in the 2012 Euro final. Stylistically you couldn’t ask for a more different match-up. Italy prefers to sit back and wait for the counter whereas Spain likes to dominate possession before making the occasional run. Will Spain advance as they look to defend their Euro crown or will big brother Italy finally get a hold on Spain?
Italy’s performance so far this Euro 2016
Piero Fiorino: Italy advances to the Knockout stage of this year’s Euros despite being written off by virtually every analyst leading up to the major tournament. Italy cruised through their first two Games as they defeated both Belgium and Sweden before eventually dropping the third game to the Republic of Ireland. The Italians played their typical style of parking the bus and counter attack which certainly annoyed the competition. Familiar faces such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci helped the Italian squad place 1st in their group, but it was newcomers such as Eder that really gave the Azzurri that extra push they needed. Italy hopes to redeem themselves from 2012 as they play a very electric Spain team on Monday.
Richard Bowman: Italy made it to the knockout phase relatively easy from the looks of it, however, it did take some late game magic of none other than Eder for Italy to beat Sweden in their second group stage game. Italy has gotten by so far by completely neglecting their midfield, this is something we saw Greece do back in Euro 2004 when they went on to win their only Euro. Italy’s defense has been great for the most part and their attack has been good in spurts but Conte’s refusal to give more creative players who could boost the midfield like Lorenzo Insigne and Stephen El Shaarawy a chance bumps Italy’s grade down to a B.
Italy vs Spain
What must Italy improve on if they want to advance to the Quarterfinals?
Piero Fiorino: Passing.
Richard Bowman: Finishing their key chances.
Italy wins if…
Piero Fiorino: They don’t get too cute with their passing, and stick to what they’re good at.
Richard Bowman: They can take advantage of Spain on the counter.
Surprise player for Italy?
Piero Fiorino: Andrea Barzagli
Richard Bowman: Marco Parolo
Man of the Match?
Piero Fiorino: Graziano Pelle
Richard Bowman: Giorgio Chiellini
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