As only three Euro 2020 games remain, the Euro Tonight panel previews England vs. Spain as well as Italy vs. Denmark. (3:16).
Spain should probably not be in Sunday's final. This is the harsh reality for them. The beauty of football is that they may be.
It's a good idea to take a look at the two teams that will battle for the ball at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday and consider: "Azzurri not La Roja."
Roberto Mancini's Italy is more than a compliment. They'll either be stomping their heads in frustration while missing every goal opportunity, or they will run wild while putting their rivals to the sword.
It's more than a common belief that we are witnessing a modern evangelistic miracle in Mancini's Italy. The once pragmatic, prosaic and pugnacious "antifootball" nation is now singing gospel and trala-laing as they flick the ball between blue shirt and pink boot. While opponents gasp for air and applaud Italian courage,
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All of this, I believe, is true. Italy are like wasabi on your food: Your brain is cleared, your head explodes in shock, and you soon want more. Azzurri wasabi.
The fact that Spain is, like wasabi and a little green should not be surprising to the experienced watcher about Spain's third European Championship final in only 13 years should cause them to be cautious.
Let's call it La Roja verde. Luis Enrique's group seems a bit ahead of schedule, I believe. They are bursting with belief, talent and unity.
They are also very... nice. Once you stop admiring their technical skills as a group, you will find that most of them are multilingual, linguistically gifted, and winners at club level. They don't, except for a few, have the same qualities that make Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini special. They don't have the same steely toughness that made Sergio Ramos and Carles Puyol special, Gerard Pique, Gerard Pique, Gerard Alonso, Gerard Pique, and David Villa exceptional footballers.
This is not a criticism. The seeds that were planted during the Nations League campaign and here have started to suggest that Spain could be a serious contender at the 2022 World Cup. They have also a semifinal in that Nations League against Italy -- who else? -- in the fall. If they win, lose, or draw, it's reasonable to believe that La Roja will have better prepared and more experience to try to win that one.
However, Bonucci and Chiellini have battle scars like Bonucci and Cesar Azpilicueta. Sergio Busquets is not likely to look anything like them.
Add to this the fact Italy look much more likely than Spain to finish a good portion of their goal chances (I think they make fewer but tuck away more), plus the fact they circulate the ball beautifully and have two highly underrated footballers in Nicolo Barella & Jorginho -- Spain has a job.
It's possible to see a football upset if Italy stumbles and Luis Enrique's team "uncorks the Cava", as they did against Slovakia or Croatia.
Mancini's Italy is like Spain's twin footballing soul.
They want the ball and will bully you away from it.
Play 0:55 Nedum Ooha is desperate to see Italy play Spain Nedum Ooha explains why Spain is so excited to face Italy in the Euro 2020 semifinals.
This means that the neutral, especially the neutral who understands or appreciates technical football is in for a treat.
However, not much is being made of the fact that Italy rarely have to face a team who wants to play like them.
It is clear from the huge panorama of their unbeaten run that they were not offered the same level of examination by Spain or any other country.
Since I want La Roja to win the tournament, I have some skin in this game.
Leonardo Spinazzola has been injured. I am sorry. It appears that it is not as bad as the Spain coach.
Luis Enrique stated Monday night, "I wish he hadn't been injured and could still play at Wembley."
However, Emerson's adaptability is not a guarantee. Spain, via Ferran Torres, Gerard Moreno, or Marcos Llorente, will press for Emerson to see if he can make the transition. Emerson, who managed just seven starts in four competitions this season, won't be able to do that.
One thing is certain. There are still ways to win a semifinal, regardless of how good the football is between these two Mediterranean masters.
For example, set plays and headers. Spain has offered many scoring opportunities in their matches against Switzerland, including several against Croatia and Poland. You're playing with fire if you do that to a team full of big, bad buccaneers such as Bonucci or Chiellini, who love to rampage and love to bash home head goals.
Overall, I cannot shake the feeling that Spain is more than capable of matching Italy's play, and that this match might end in their favor by winning the easy way, tucking away all the chances with clinical glee. My evidence is not strong enough.
This is a football event not to be missed. It is stronger than any betting favouritism that will undoubtedly go to Italy. This is a game where technique and talent will reign supreme. It's not just "Viva Espana!" This time, "Viva Espana!"