LONDON (AP) — Luis Enrique thought for a few seconds, regarded straight again on the questioner, and gave the curtest of replies.
“No,” stated the Spain coach, with the blankest of appears on his face, after being requested if he had seen a greater group than his on the European Championship.
A solution out of blind loyalty? Maybe.
Or was it the truth that Spain was the main scorer at Euro 2020? Perhaps.
Or the truth that La Roja is on an unbeaten streak stretching again to October, a run of 13 video games? Fairly presumably.
Spain’s opponent within the European Championship semifinals on Tuesday may need one thing to say about all that.
Italy, one other of the continent’s conventional powers, brings an excellent higher run of type to Wembley Stadium — a national-record 32 matches unbeaten, going all the best way again to September 2018.
From the second tenor Andrea Bocelli cleared the sphere at Stadio Olimpico after his stirring rendition of “Nessun Dorma” on the opening ceremony, making method for the beginning of the match, the Italians have been proper on the cash.
Three spectacular wins within the group stage, with out conceding. A gutsy victory over a better-than-expected Austria within the spherical of 16. The elimination of top-ranked Belgium within the quarterfinals.
Perhaps Luis Enrique isn’t conscious, however Italy is rolling for the time being.
This may be a match between groups who’ve nearly forgotten what it feels wish to lose — Spain has just one defeat in its final 29 video games — however Italy appears to have the sting, at each ends of the sphere.
A lot has modified since Roberto Mancini took cost in Might 2018, with the group having advanced right into a high-energy unit that presses exhausting and assaults at tempo. However the Azzurri’s protection wants little introduction.
Spain’s protection, alternatively, is a piece in progress whereas middle again Aymeric Laporte integrates following his change of nationality from France.
In assault, striker Alvaro Morata continues to frustrate for Spain and Luis Enrique has seemingly but to choose his most well-liked wingers. Italy, although, has had robust and dependable performances from striker Ciro Motionless and extensive ahead Lorenzo Insigne, the scorer of the decisive second objective in opposition to Belgium.
It’s in midfield the place Spain can significantly problem Italy, probably making it the division the place the match may very well be gained or misplaced. Jorginho, Nicola Barella and possibly Marco Verratti for Italy versus Sergio Busquets, Pedri Gonzalez and Koke for Spain is a must-watch duel all by itself.
Neither group has made it this far in a significant worldwide competitors since 2012, after they met within the European Championship closing in Kyiv. Spain gained that match 4-0. Two gamers stay from every nation: Bonucci and Chiellini for Italy, and Jordi Alba and Busquets for Spain.
So whereas that is removed from uncharted territory for 2 nations with 9 European Championship or World Cup titles between them, it’s for many of the gamers concerned.
Anticipate the Spanish to have the vast majority of possession, however possibly by not as a lot as they’re accustomed. And anticipate the Italians to launch fast counterattacks from turnover balls, looking for to get behind the growing older Busquets and assault the mushy middle of Spain’s protection.
A win for Spain, which has the youngest squad on the match, units up the prospect of a 3rd European Championship title in 4 editions and probably the beginning of recent interval of success for a nation that dominated world soccer from 2008-12.
A win for Italy certainly means Mancini’s group would enter the ultimate as the favourite, irrespective of who wins the second semifinal match between England and Denmark.
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