EURO Semi Final: Italy vs Spain

It’s the clash of the titans when two heavyweights of European football do battle in the semi-finals of the Euros under the Wembley arch tonight.

To Win 
Italy 1.45
Draw 2.10
Spain 2.10

The Italians have been impressive in this tournament thus far , Roberto Mancini’s charges have struck a perfect balance of enterprising football and solid defence while adding a bit of gamesmanship in their game, the way in which they managed their lead towards the latter stages in the match against Belgium was very smart.

On the flip side, many shouldn’t underestimate the threat poised by La Roja. Spain are the highest scoring side in the tournament and spectacularly netted 10 goals in two matches prior to their the quarterfinal match versus Switzerland.

Spain have also been wasteful in front of goal, creating many chances but failing to convert. Don’t expect Luis Enrique’s men to create that many chances against this stingy Italian defence, so they need the likes of Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo and Alvaro Morata to be more efficient in this match.

Last time these two sides met in a major tournament, Spain demolished Italy 4-0 in the Final of Uefa Euros back in 2012 playing their classic tiki-taka style, but things have changed since then. Italy come into this match as favourites having won their last 13 matches and are unbeaten in the last 32 games while handing Belgium the number one ranked nation an early exit last time out.

Key  Players to Watch

Italy

LORENZO INSIGNE : The little magician has been brilliant for Italy in this tournament with his silky skills and clinical finishing. Insigne scored a sensational match winning goal against Belgium to highlight his importance.

The Spanish defence have been very shaky in this tournament and conceded some poor goals and expect Insigne to be leaking his chops with the prospect of facing Aymeric Laporte and company.

GIORGIO CHIELLINI : Chiellini epitomises the Italians love affair with the art of defending and the way he defends a last-ditch block as if he’d just scored a winning goal highlights his passion for defending.

The experienced center – back has been one of the best defenders in world football over the past 15 years and is showing no signs of slowing down. In a generation where the passion for defending is slowly dying out, Chiellini is a master and Spain will have a hard time trying to break down Italy’s defence.

Spain

FERRAN TORRES : The Man City star has been a lively wire for Spain in attack and with Leonardo Spinazzola ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to injury, the electrifying Torres might just prove to be a real threat for the Italians in defence.

Torres hasn’t just shown glimpses of brilliance with his dribbling and movement but he’s also shown that he can be deadly in front of goal. His end product can definitely improve but Torres looks like a player who is settling into his groove and that spells trouble for the Italians.

PEDRI : The 18-year-old Barcelona superstar is proving to be one of the most talented teenagers in the world. His deft touches and ability to keep things moving in midfield thanks to his precise passing have been important for Spain in this tournament.

Luis Enrique’s gamble on Pedri has paid off immensely and once again the wonder kid will be tasked with the responsibility of creating and making Spain play from midfield, a challenge which Pedri has passed with flying colours so far.

Predictions

This intriguing encounter will be tough to call, it’s defence versus attack and the stakes are high so expect these two teams to cancel each other out but Italy should avenge their defeat in the Final in 2012 by winning on penalties.

Written by Ntobeko Mbambo

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