Italy Vs Spain: Five Things We Learnt

Obiweluozo Martins

The European champions Spain were bundled out of the EURO 2016 by the strict Italian opposition 2-0 in what looks like a revenge mission, thus breaking along run of poor results against rival Spain as they had failed to beat the La Roja side since 1994 in a major Championship.
All in all it was set to be a day for the Italian as they ran out with a 2-0 deserved winners just like they masterminded against Belgium in the group stages. The Italian really look composed on the ball than the more dominant Spain side to the surprise of many (especially Spanish fans) who were disappointed as defeat became reality for their team. We evaluate the significant lessons from the game as there are so much in common in these contests between two heavy weights of European Football.

LACK OF CONCENTRATION

The veteran defender reacts quickest to tap in the rebound from Eder's free kick in the first-half to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

The Spanish side on occasion looked tepid on concentration level even when there was no margin for error. Of course you expect to be punished in such situation as there is not begging at knockoutstages of the competition. The lack of concentration was evident from the Spain backline in terms of defensive positioning as they failed to deal with the Italian set piece early in the game which lead to the opener for Italy. Even when De Gea made an instant save they were the slowest to respond in their own defence as defender Giorgio Chiellini pounced on the rebound to force the ball in for the opener. A total lack of concentration has caused Spain a chance to defend their crown and as a result exit the Round of 16 for the more organized Italians.

BUFFON PERSONALLY DENIES SPAIN
Buffon rushes his goal and spreads his body to deny Spain's Lucas Vazquez from netting an equalizer against Italy.

Gigi Buffon was another stumbling block to Spain passage to the next round of the competition as he held all that was through at him with great aplomb and to the frustration of the Spanish players who had hands on their head wondering what they needed to do to beat the veteran goalkeeper Buffon in goal. The veteran shot stopper (Buffon) who made his international debut for Italy in 1997 demonstrated courage and maturity between the sticks showing why he is a man-stay in the Italian last line of defence, such courage and calmness is a testament to Buffon’s pedigree as a result of his massive experience at international level as well with Italian champions Juventus. Andres Iniesta found his left foot volley saved with conviction reminding us of the moment of brilliance where Iniesta equalized against Chelsea beating Petr Cech, but this time not by Buffoon and the veteran shot-topper will be key going further in the competition as they renew rivalry with Germany come Saturday.


ITALY COMES GOOD
Italy and Roma midfielder Alessandro Florenzi gets a shot at goal away under pressure from La Roja captain Sergio Ramos.

The Italian side were pretty good against Spain both in defence, midfield, and attack and in goalkeeping position as well. The Azurri were more coordinated in the defence than the Spanish side as they play one of their best games in the tournament, attacking and passing the ball into the Spanish vital area with so much speed and positive directions. It was a well-planned gamed for the Italians and that will be very encouraging for them going into the clash with the German side at the weekend. The likes of Chiellini, Bonucci was composed and dedicated in their defensive duties while substitutes Lorenzo Insigne and Brazilian Eder was a handful for Spain threating from all cylinders with De Gea to the rescue. That alone showed how Italy has improved so far as the tournament wores on.

ITALY SCORER OF LATE GOAL
Graziano Pelle fires the ball past David De Gea in the dying stages of the match to make sure of Italy's knockout victory over Spain.

Italy have masterminded the exit of some of the best teams in the tournament in Spain, Belgium and Ibrahimovic’s Sweden scoring five goals and conceding one against the Republic of Ireland in the process but out of the five goals scored by Italy in this Championship, three have been scored late in the second half, with Eder scoring a late curling effort to bundle Ibrahimovic and his Swedish teammates out of the tournament sealing Italy’s place in the knock out stages. Graziano Pelle who made his Italian debut at 29 years of age is becoming the focal point in attack and a justification to Antonio Conte’s Superb choice to leave out Super Mario (Balotelli) out of the Italian squad as Pelle is repaying the confidence of his manager (Conte) with two similar late goals against Belgium and Spain in added time to make it 2-0. What a way to blast behind De Gea and Courtois in succession to seal the win for Italy in exceptional fashion making Italy a late goal specialist.

SPAIN HAVE DE GEA TO THE RESCUE
Spain and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea dives to make a stunning save early on in Monday's game against Italy.

Spain lost 2-0 to Italy but had the sought after David De Gea by Real Madrid to thank in terms of damage limitation and for preserving the Spanish pride. With some spectaculars areas in the game, it is understood why De Gea is one of the top notch goalkeeper between the sticks and was given the nod ahead of Iker Casillas who is the team captain. De Gea was very alert with awesome reflexes to keep out Italians reducing the deficit within touching distance. He denied Emmanuel Giaccherini in the first half tipping superbly over the bar as the petit midfield player cuts inside to fire at goal. He saved repeated from Eder and substitute Lorenzo Insigne from long range and is surely one of the positives for Spain to take from their exit at EURO 2016.

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