It’s not a proper Euros tournament if Spain and Italy aren’t facing off at some point. This time one of Europe’s classic soccer matches has a berth to the 2021 Euro final as the prize at stake.
For the fourth straight Euro competition, Italians and Spaniards will meet in the knockout stages, but there’s a fresh feel to both national teams ahead of their semifinal matchup at Wembley Stadium in London. Italy is on a team-record 32-game unbeaten run (13 straight wins), playing a new, modern style of soccer, while Spain has ushered in a squad changeover that has provided a new interpretation of the possession-based “tiki-taka” style that has defined La Roja.
Over the years, Spain and its trademark brand of soccer has inflicted some painful losses on the Italians, including a sound 4-0 beating in the 2012 Euro final that is the most lopsided title game in the history of the competition. Italy has only defeated Spain twice in the last 14 meetings, but this time the tables might be turning with Italy’s play winning all the plaudits at Euro 2021.
Led by manager Roberto Mancini (below), Italy has won all five of its tournament matches thus far. It beat No. 1-ranked Belgium in the quarters and its march to the semis has come with a swarming, attack-first philosophy that has Italians in love with their national team again after it failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Standing in its way is a Spain side that has won just two of its five games at Euro 2021, needing a penalty-kick shootout to get by Switzerland in the quarterfinals. But Luis Enrique’s team has grown in conviction as the tournament has progressed and it is now one step from a third Euro final in the last four editions.
How to watch Italy vs. Spain in USA
- Date: Tues, July 6
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
- Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN
- Streaming: fuboTV, ESPN+, TUDN.tv
ESPN will carry the Italy-Spain semifinal in English, with Univision and TUDN providing Spanish-language coverage. Both networks are available to stream on fuboTV (free 7-day trial).
Italy vs. Spain projected lineups
Some were calling left back Leonardo Spinazzola the MVP of this Italian team. But the fastest player at the Euros is lost to a torn Achilles suffered against Belgium and we’ll see just how much the Azzurri miss him on the field. His likely replacement, Chelsea FC’s Emerson Palmieri, is not the same playmaker that Spinazzola is.
The Italian camp says Spinazzola’s loss is added motivation for the Azzurri to win for him. The rest of the lineup is expected to remain unchanged with Giovanni Di Lorenzo keeping his right back position even though his competitors for the spot are now fully fit (Alessandro Florenzi and Rafael Toloi). Mancini will also not lose faith with this heavily criticized center forward Ciro Immobile.
If Spinazzola is the tournament’s fastest player (fastest sprint clocked at 21 mph), Spain midfielder Pedri has run the longest distance (38.2 miles). The 18-year-old Barcelona star is one of the revelations of these Euros and he’s excelled, as well as the entire Spain team, since captain Sergio Busquets returned to the lineup three games ago after missing time due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Spain will also be missing a starter due to injury. Winger Pablo Sarabia will be out with an abductor muscle strain in his right leg suffered against Switzerland. Also, center back Pau Torres, whose aerial abilities may not be so critical in this game, could be replaced by Eric Garcia.
Italy (4-3-3, left to right): Gigi Donnarumma-GK — Emerson Palmieri, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Giovanni Di Lorenzo — Marco Verratti, Jorginho, Nicolo Barella — Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa
Spain (4-3-3, left to right): Unai Simon-GK — Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, Cesar Azpilicueta — Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Koke — Dani Olmo, Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres
Italy vs. Spain: Odds & prediction
Since both teams have a penchant for pressing to win back the ball, and then keeping it to create, many are expecting a wide open game between two teams that are technically skillful enough to pull it off. But rarely do we get wide-open matches when two powerhouses meet with this much at stake, even if they’re both known for positive, attack-oriented styles.
While the Italians are plenty familiar with Spain’s style over the years, Spain has not yet encountered this version of Italy under Mancini, who assumed the helm in the wake of the team’s disastrous 2018 World Cup elimination. Italy and Spain last met some eight months before Mancini took over.
This Italy will create chaos and overload a Spain defense that has shown it can buckle under pressure. For all of Spain’s success at winning the ball back (37.4 percent successful pressures per FBref, compared to Italy’s 26.5), Italy has applied 20 percent more pressures in the attacking third during this tournament. And for a Spain team that gets more touches (4980 total vs. Italy’s 3701) and keeps more possession (73 percent average compared to Italy’s 57.6 percent), it could spell disaster for La Roja if the Spaniards cough it up in key areas.
The chaos could very well win out over the more methodical buildup from Spain. And if Italy takes the lead, there’s a good chance the Azzurri can successfully lock it down like they did against Belgium — the old-fashioned Italian way.
Prediction: Italy 2, Spain 0
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
- Italy to win (90 mins): +145
- Italy to advance: -143
- Draw (90 mins): +220
- Spain to win (90 mins): +210
- Spain to advance: +120
- Italy -0.25 Asian Handicap: +108
- Italy -0.5 Asian Handicap: +145