One of Europe’s oldest rivalries is back in the spotlight in the first semi-final of UEFA EURO 2020 as Italy and Spain face off for the fourth time in four EUROs.
- Italy won in the round of 16 five years ago, ending Spain’s eight-year reign, a reign that included victories over the Azzurri in the quarterfinals in 2008 and the final in 2012.
- Italy defeated Belgium 2-1 in the quarterfinals of UEFA EURO 2020 to record their 15th consecutive UEFA European Championship victory, a new record in the competition, eclipsing the mark of 14 they previously shared with Germany and Belgium. Spain also had to show courage to reach the last four, defeating Switzerland on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
- The winner will face either England or Denmark in the final, also at Wembley, on July 11.
- The two teams will meet in the UEFA Nations League semi-final at the San Siro in Milan on October 6.
EURO 1988: Vialli scores against Spain
- Italy ended Spain’s UEFA EURO 2016 adventure with a 2-0 victory in the last 16 at the Stade de France thanks to goals in each half from Giorgio Chiellini (33rd minute) and Graziano Pellè (90th+1). Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Florenzi and substitute Lorenzo Insigne all played for Italy; David de Gea, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Álvaro Morata all started for Spain.
- These teams also met twice in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers; the match in Turin ended 1-1 before Morata scored Spain’s final goal in a 3-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. Spain finished top of Group G; World Cup runner-up Italy was beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Sweden in the playoffs, Italy’s first non-qualification for a World Cup since 1958.
- The two nations have met 37 times: they have recorded 11 wins each and 15 draws, with two Italian wins, one Spanish win and three draws in six EURO matches.
- The two teams are playing each other for the fourth consecutive EURO: they drew 0-0 in the quarterfinals of UEFA EURO 2008 in Vienna, before Cesc Fàbregas converted the winning penalty kick for Spain, who won 4-2 on penalties.
- The two countries also drew 1-1 in the first match of UEFA EURO 2012, before facing each other again in the final, which Spain won 4-0, the largest victory in the final. Alba opened the scoring at NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv, with Busquets also on the Spanish team. Bonucci and Chiellini were both starters for Italy, but the latter went off injured midway through the first half.
- The loss at UEFA EURO 2016 was Spain’s only defeat to Italy in the last eight matches between the two teams (3 wins) since a 2-1 friendly loss in Bari in August 2011. In competitive matches, that loss in Saint-Denis five years ago is Spain’s only defeat in the last six meetings (2 wins) since a 2-1 loss to the Azzurri at the 1994 World Cup.
- With this 38th match against Spain, Italy has only played France (39 matches) and Switzerland (59) more often than against Spain; the Azzurri are now Spain’s most frequent opponents, tied with Portugal.
Balotelli’s gem for Italy in the 2012 semi-final
At the EURO, Italy
- Italy’s record in the semi-finals of the EURO is 3 qualifications and 1 elimination:
1968 Q 0-0 Soviet Union (coin-flip victory)
1988 E 0-2 Soviet Union
2000 Q 0-0 Netherlands (3-1 win)
2012 Q 2-1 Germany
- Italy is playing in its tenth EURO finals, its seventh in a row since it missed the 1992 edition in Sweden. They have failed to reach the group stage only twice, in 1996 and 2004; at UEFA EURO 2016, they reached the quarter-finals.
- Italy won the 1968 UEFA European Championship at home and lost two finals, in 2000 and 2012.
- A 3-0 away win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on the penultimate day was Italy’s tenth consecutive victory, a first.
- The Azzurri have won 11 in a row with a 9-1 home win over Armenia in their last qualifying match. It was the first time they scored nine goals in a game since August 1948. Seven different players found the net, a new national record.
- Italy, who had never scored three goals in a EURO finals match before this tournament, did so in their first two matches, beating Switzerland and Turkey 3-0 at the Olimpico in Rome, where they secured top spot in Group A by beating Wales 1-0 on the final day.
- Italy defeated Austria in the Round of 16 in London, with extra-time goals from substitutes Federico Chiesa (95th) and Matteo Pessina (105th) to advance to a fourth consecutive EURO quarterfinal.
Spain-Italy: the penalty shootout in full
- Italy’s record in the knockout stage of the EURO is 9 wins and 6 losses.
- In the quarterfinals, first-half goals by Nicolò Barella (31st) and Lorenzo Insigne (44th) gave Italy a 2-1 win over Belgium at the Football Arena in Munich. Italy extended their winning streak at the EURO to 15 and ended Belgium’s streak at 14.
- The victory over Austria in the round of 16 was Italy’s third in their seven matches at Wembley, the previous six being against England (2 wins, 1 loss). Its last visit before UEFA EURO 2020 was a 1-1 friendly in March 2018 in which Insigne scored an 87th-minute equalizer and Bonucci, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jorginho, Ciro Immobile, Chiesa and Andrea Belotti also participated. The Azzurri’s only loss at Wembley was a 2-0 defeat in the 1978 World Cup qualifiers.
- Italy’s record in England is 8 wins, 6 draws and 11 defeats. At EURO 96, the Italians played their first two group matches at Anfield in Liverpool, where they beat Russia 2-1 before losing by the same score to the Czech Republic. They were then eliminated after a goalless draw against eventual champions Germany at Old Trafford in Manchester.
- At the 1966 World Cup, the Azzurri started with a 2-0 win over Chile at Roker Park, Sunderland, but were beaten 1-0 by the Soviet Union in their second match and eliminated with a 1-0 loss to North Korea at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough.
At the EURO, Spain
- Spain won all four of their EURO semi-finals:
1964 2-1 against Hungary (a.p.)
1984 1-1 against Denmark (a.p., 5-4 t.a.b.)
2008 3-0 against Russia
2012 0-0 against Portugal (a.p., 4-2 t.a.b.)
- This is the seventh consecutive EURO for Spain. The 1964 champions also won in 2008 and 2012, becoming the first team to retain the Henri Delaunay Trophy.
- In 2016, Spain was defeated by Italy in the round of 16 at UEFA EURO 2016, with the Azzurri winning 2-0. Also eliminated in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup by host Russia on penalties, Spain has failed to reach the quarterfinals in any of its last three major tournaments before this one.
- Spain and Germany or West Germany are the most successful teams at the EURO with three trophies.
- Spain qualified for UEFA EURO 2020 by winning eight of their ten qualifying matches and drawing two. They finished with 26 points in Group F, five more than second-placed Sweden, who were also in Group E at the final tournament.
- The three-time champions are one of five teams that did not lose a game in the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers, along with Belgium, Italy (who won all their matches and also recorded three wins in the final tournament), Denmark and Ukraine.
- Spain had more shots (227), possession (70 percent) and successful passes (91 percent) than any other team in qualifying.
- Luis Enrique’s team played all three of its Group E matches at Seville’s La Cartuja stadium. They started with a goalless draw against group leaders Sweden before being held to a 1-1 draw by Poland. The Spaniards returned to winning ways in the third game, beating Slovakia 5-0. It was the first time Spain had scored five goals in a EURO finals match and the scoreline equals the biggest win in a UEFA European Championship.
- Spain became the first team to score five goals in back-to-back EURO matches by virtue of their 5-3 victory over Croatia in the Round of 16 on June 28, a match in which they led 3-1 with five minutes remaining. Goals from Álvaro Morata and Oyarzabal secured qualification.
- Oyarzabal scored the decisive penalty in the 3-1 penalty shootout win over Switzerland in the quarterfinals, with the game ending 1-1 after 120 minutes. Sergio Busquets hit the post and Rodri had a shot saved before La Roja won.
- Every time Spain has won its quarterfinal, it has won the trophy.
- Spain has lost five of its nine matches at Wembley (2 wins), although it won the most recent one, 2-1 against England in the UEFA Nations League in September 2018, with goals from Saúl Ñíguez and Rodrigo. The Spaniards also suffered elimination in the UEFA European Championship on this field, losing 4-2 on penalties to England after 120 scoreless minutes in the quarterfinals of EURO 96.
- Spain’s record in England is 5 wins, 5 draws and 9 defeats. At the 1966 World Cup, their record was 1 win and 2 losses; at EURO 96, where they played their three group games in Leeds before losing to England on penalties in the quarterfinals, their record was 1 win and 3 draws.
Great goals for Italy at the EURO
We know each other…
- Spanish coach Enrique was in charge of Roma in 2011/12 when Daniele De Rossi, now a member of Roberto Mancini’s staff, was in the team.
- Have played in Spain:
Salvatore Sirigu (Sevilla 2016/17 loan, Osasuna 2017 loan)
Ciro Immobile (Sevilla 2015/16)
Alessandro Florenzi (Valencia 2020)
- Have played in Italy:
Álvaro Morata (Juventus 2014/16, 2020- loan)
Fabián Ruiz (Napoli 2018-)
- Have played together:
Alessandro Florenzi and José Luis Gayà (Valencia 2020)
Álvaro Morata and Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus 2014-16, 2020-)
Álvaro Morata and Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa (Juventus 2020-)
Alex Meret, Lorenzo Insigne and Fabián Ruiz (Napoli 2018-)
Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Fabián Ruiz (Napoli 2019-)
Emerson and Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea 2017-)
Jorginho and César Azpilicueta (Chelsea 2018-)
Marco Verratti and Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint Germain 2019-)
Qualifiers under the microscope: Spain
- Chiesa scored twice ahead of Unai Simón as Italy beat Spain 3-1 on the opening day of the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Bologna. Meret, Nicolò Barella and substitute Alessandro Bastoni were also in the Italian squad, while Oyarzabal and Fabián Ruiz were starters for Spain. Italy’s Manuel Locatelli and Spain’s Dani Olmo were unused substitutes.
- Jorginho started and Emerson came on as a substitute in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over a Manchester City team that included Rodri, Aymeric Laporte and Ferran Torres at Wembley in the 2020/21 FA Cup semifinal on April 17. Chelsea, with Jorginho back in the starting lineup, also beat City by the same score in the UEFA Champions League final the following month, although none of the three Spanish internationals or their compatriot Eric García came off the City bench.
- Laporte scored the winning goal for City at Wembley in their 1-0 win over Tottenham in the 2020/21 League Cup final on April 25.
- Busquets was part of the Barcelona team that won the 2011 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley, beating Manchester United 3-1. He also played alongside Thiago Alcántara and David de Gea for Spain, who beat England 2-1 at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League in September 2018.
- Chiellini was part of the Juventus team that beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley to win a 2017/18 UEFA Champions League round of 16 match, 4-3 on aggregate.
- Morata scored twice in Juventus’ 3-1 home win over a Lazio team that included Francesco Acerbi and Ciro Immobile on March 6.
Torres, his goal in the EURO final
- Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi started both games for Paris Saint-Germain, which defeated a Barcelona team featuring Busquets, Jordi Alba and Pedri 5-2 on aggregate in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Busquets and Pedri also started Barca’s final group match – a 3-0 home loss to a Juventus team that included Bonucci and substitute Chiesa.
Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcántara was born in the Italian town of San Pietro Vernotico while his father Mazinho played for Lecce.
In the penalty shootout
- Italy’s record in competitive penalty shootouts is 4 qualifications and 7 eliminations
8-9 against Czechoslovakia, third place in the 1980 UEFA European Championship
3-4 against Argentina, semi-final of the 1990 FIFA World Cup
2-3 against Brazil, 1994 FIFA World Cup Final
3-4 against France, 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
3-1 against the Netherlands, semi-final of UEFA EURO 2000
5-3 against France, 2006 FIFA World Cup Final
2-4 against Spain, quarter-final of UEFA EURO 2008
4-2 against England, quarter-final of UEFA EURO 2012
6-7 against Spain, FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 semi-final
3-2 against Uruguay, third place at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
5-6 against Germany, quarterfinal of UEFA EURO 2016
- Spain’s record in its nine competitive penalty shootouts is 5 wins and 4 losses:
5-4 against Denmark, 1984 UEFA European Championship semi-final
4-5 against Belgium, 1986 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal
2-4 against England, EURO 96 quarterfinal
3-2 against the Republic of Ireland, Round of 16, 2002 FIFA World Cup
3-5 against South Korea, quarter-final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup
4-2 against Italy, quarter-final of UEFA EURO 2008
4-2 against Portugal, semi-final of UEFA EURO 2012
7-6 against Italy, FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 semi-final
3-4 against Russia, Round of 16, 2018 FIFA World Cup
3-1 against Switzerland, quarterfinals of UEFA EURO 2020
- No team has ever won two penalty shootouts in the same EURO.
Around the match
- Italy’s win over Belgium was their 13th in a row, although unlike the first 11 matches in this series, Roberto Mancini’s team has conceded a goal in each of their last two matches. Italy’s defense has not been beaten more than once in its last 35 matches, since a 3-1 loss to France in a friendly on June 1, 2018, their second game under Mancini.
- The Azzurri are now unbeaten in 33 matches (27 wins), breaking a national record that had stood since the 1930s. Their last loss was 1-0 to Portugal in Lisbon in the UEFA Nations League on September 10, 2018.
- The last time Italy trailed in a match was when Edin Džeko gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a 57th-minute lead in a UEFA Nations League match in Florence on September 4, 2020; the Azzurri equalized ten minutes later. It was the only time in its last 23 matches that Italy was behind.
- The only other EURO in which Italy won all three of its group matches came in 2000, when it also started with a win over Turkey (2-1) before beating Belgium (2-0) and Sweden (2-1) and finishing runner-up to France.
- Nicolò Barella’s goal against Belgium was his sixth at the international level and his first in a tournament. The Internazionale midfielder scored Italy’s first goal in the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign – seven minutes after the first game, a 2-0 home win over Finland.
- Lorenzo Insigne has surpassed 10 international goals in 45 matches. He had already scored against Turkey on the first day.
- Ciro Immobile honored his 50th cap against Belgium, becoming the third member of Mancini’s team to reach that total, behind Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, who both surpassed 100 caps. The Lazio striker is also Italy’s top scorer, having found the net in five of his last seven games for the Azzurri, bringing his international goal total to 15. Italy has won all 13 matches in which he has scored.
- Manuel Locatelli’s brace against Switzerland on the second day was the first of his professional career. He had only scored once before for Italy, in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Bulgaria in March of this year (2-0). Since that game against Switzerland, he has only made one appearance as a substitute.
- Federico Chiesa’s goal against Austria at Wembley was only his second with Italy in his 29th appearance, the only previous one being the goal in the Azzurri’s 9-1 win over Armenia in UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying.
- Matteo Pessina, called up on short notice by Italy after Stefano Sensi was forced to withdraw due to injury, scored the winning goals against Wales in Rome and Austria in London, after scoring his first two goals at international level in a 7-0 friendly win over San Marino in Cagliari before the tournament.
- Gaetano Castrovilli, who earned the second of his three caps against San Marino, 18 months after his debut, replaced the injured Lorenzo Pellegrini in the squad ahead of the tournament.
- Twenty-five of the 26 players in Mancini’s squad have taken the field so far at UEFA EURO 2020, with goalkeeper Alex Meret the exception.
- Among the seven Italian players selected for both UEFA EURO 2016 and this tournament are captain Chiellini, who is playing in his fourth consecutive EURO finals, as well as Bonucci and Salvatore Sirigu, who are both playing in their third. Other survivors from five years ago are Federico Bernardeschi, Alessandro Florenzi, Immobile and Insigne.
- Bonucci made his 16th appearance in the EURO finals against Belgium, one more than his defensive teammate Chiellini, and is now within striking distance of Gianluigi Buffon’s tournament record for Italy.
- Chiellini and Bonucci are the only members of the Italy team to have scored at a previous major tournament, with the former finding the net against Brazil at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and against Spain at UEFA EURO 2016, while the latter was the Azzurri’s penalty taker in the 2016 quarterfinal against Germany.
- Leonardo Spinazzola left the field on a stretcher in the quarterfinal against Belgium with a ruptured Achilles tendon and is likely to be sidelined for a long time.
- Italy will host the UEFA Nations League finals in the fall. It will meet Spain in the first of the semi-finals in Milan on October 6.
- Spain’s penalty shootout triumph over Switzerland was its third consecutive EURO finals victory, following penalty shootout wins over Italy in the 2008 quarterfinals and Portugal in the 2012 semifinals. However, Spain was eliminated from the 2018 FIFA World Cup on penalties by tournament hosts Russia.
- Spain is the team with the most goals at UEFA EURO 2020 – with 12 goals, one more than Italy and Denmark. Three of those goals were own goals, including the opening goal in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Spain also led the tournament in possession (67.2 percent) and passing accuracy (89.4 percent).
- With their 5-3 extra-time win over Croatia in the Round of 16, Spain became the first team to score five goals in two successive games in the EURO final.
- Mikel Oyarzabal, who scored the decisive penalty in the shootout against Switzerland after also finding the net in extra time against Croatia, has come on as a substitute in all five of Spain’s matches at UEFA EURO 2020 – the only player to do so. Only five of his 18 international appearances have seen him start, with his last eight appearances all coming from the bench.
- The 5-0 win over Slovakia on Matchday 3 was Spain’s biggest win at the EURO finals, surpassing the two 4-0 victories they had at UEFA EURO 2012 – against the Republic of Ireland in the group stage and Italy in the final.
- Aymeric Laporte’s goal against Slovakia was his first for Spain in his fourth appearance, and Ferran Torres’ goal, 44 seconds after coming on the pitch, was the fastest scored by a substitute in the EURO finals since Spain’s Juan Carlos Valerón (39 seconds) against Russia at UEFA EURO 2004.
- The second day draw against Poland was the third in a row for Spain under Luis Enrique, following the draw against Portugal in Madrid on June 4, in which newly naturalized defender Laporte made his debut, and the draw against Sweden on the first day. Due to an illness in the Spanish camp, the second scheduled friendly, against Lithuania in Leganés, was played – and won 4-0 – by the Spanish U21 team, with Luis de la Fuente as coach.
- Unbeaten in all five of their UEFA EURO 2020 matches, Spain have lost just one of their last 29 internationals – 0-1 away to Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League last November – and are unbeaten in 13 matches since (6 wins, 7 draws).
- Enrique chose to select only 24 players, instead of the 26 allowed, for his UEFA EURO 2020 squad. There are no Real Madrid players in the squad. However, captain Sergio Ramos started nine of the 10 qualifying matches and scored four goals.
- In Ramos’ absence, Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets took over. The 125-cap midfielder – who was named Star of the Match against Slovakia and Croatia after missing the first two group games due to illness – is one of only three players in the squad who entered UEFA EURO 2020 with 50 or more caps, the others being Jordi Alba – a substitute captain against Sweden and Poland, with 77 caps – and Koke, who reached that total against Portugal.
- Aside from Busquets and Alba, who both played at EURO 2012 and 2016 and at several FIFA World Cups, only five other players in this team have played in competitions before: David de Gea, César Azpilicueta, Koke, Thiago Alcántara and Morata, who all played five years ago in France.
- Morata, who scored Spain’s fourth goal in extra time against Croatia to become Spain’s joint top scorer in the EURO final with Fernando Torres, had his penalty saved against Slovakia – the fifth in a row that Spain has missed in regulation time – and is the only member of the team with double-digit international goals (21). Koke has yet to score in 55 games for his country.
- Only one of the team’s 17 major tournament debutants has more than 20 international caps to his credit – Rodri, with 24 – and one of them, goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, has yet to make his debut.
- Two Spaniards – Pau Torres and Gerard Moreno – won the UEFA Europa League with Villarreal in 2020/21, beating De Gea’s Manchester United on penalties in the final, while Spanish champions Atlético Madrid are also represented in the squad by two players – Koke and Marcos Llorente. English Premier League winners Manchester City have more players included, four, than any other club – Ferran Torres, Eric García, Rodri and Laporte – while there are three from Copa del Rey winners Barcelona, with the young Pedri joining his two 32-year-old colleagues Busquets and Alba.
- National cups were also won in 2020/21 by Morata in Italy (Juventus) and Sarabia in France (Paris Saint-Germain), while Azpilicueta lifted the most prestigious trophy of all by captaining Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League.
- Gerard Moreno was the joint top scorer in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League with seven goals and also scored 23 goals for Villarreal in Spanish La Liga, a figure surpassed only by Lionel Messi, with 30 goals for Barcelona. He missed a penalty against Poland and has yet to score in four UEFA EURO 2020 outings, although he did convert his penalty kick in the penalty shootout win over Switzerland.
- Pedri became the youngest Spanish player to play in a EURO final match when he started the match against Sweden at the age of 18 years and 201 days. He then became the youngest player of any country to play in the knockout phase of the competition when he took the field against Croatia 14 days later, but that record was quickly eclipsed by England’s Jude Bellingham, who was 18 years and 4 days old when he came on as a substitute against Ukraine on July 3.