Spain vs Italy 1-0: Azzurri Totally Outclassed by the Furia Roja

The only good news of the night for Italy is that, at the end of the day, they lost only by one goal. Spain absolutely dominated their Euro 2024 matchup against the Azzurri at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen to secure qualification to the knockout stage and the first place in Group B.

They won thanks to an own goal by Riccardo Calafiori, but the gap in quality, technique, and intensity between Luis De la Fuente’s side and the Azzurri was appalling. Italy will need a tie against Croatia in their last group stage match on Monday to qualify but their performance from tonight, even net of Spain’s merits, should raise more than one red flag to Luciano Spalletti. 

The Nazionale coach deployed the same winning lineup that had edged past Albania last Saturday. Their start was equally poor, but while on Saturday they had managed to put themselves back on track fast, tonight they had absolutely no answers to Spain’s continuous pressure. 

In the first half, the Azzurri were only kept afloat by an invaluable Gianluigi Donnarumma. Italy’s keeper was decisive in at least three occasions. He started with his heroics early on as he palmed away a Pedri header, well picked by Nico Williams in the middle of the box from the left hand side. 

Italy’s struggles to defend their right flank was a common theme all along the first period as Giovanni Di Lorenzo had a very rough night. On 10 minutes, Alvaro Morata whipped the ball in for Williams, whose header attempt sailed off target by just a few inches.  

Then, it was Donnarumma to steal the stage again. The PSG shot-stopper denied Morata from close range on 24 minutes after a Lamine Yamal incursion had wrought havoc in the Azzurri‘s box. Immediately after that, he came up with a fantastic save as he fingertipped away a Fabian Ruiz rocket from outside the box which recorded a speed of 118km/h!

While Spain’s youngters Williams and Yamal looked absolutely unplayable, Italy’s front line was non-existent. Their feeble long ball attempts looked powerless as Unai Simon could well have watched the full first half on TV rather than from the pitch. It would have made no difference.

The half time whistle came as a relief to Spalletti’s troops. The coach made two substitutions after the restart as he sent in Andrea Cambiaso and Bryan Cristante. The Roma midfielder getting booked just 20 seconds after setting book on the pitch was a sinister sign that not much was going to change in the match pattern.

After Pedri squandered another glorious chance, well picked by Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella, Spain finally took the lead. Within a such a dominating performance, it is almost a shame that the Furia Roja only opened the scoring via a sloppy own goal.

It happened on 55 minutes, when Donnarumma managed to deflect yet another winning cross from the left – this one from Nico Williams – only to see the ball pushed into the back of the net by his teammate Calafiori.    

But it was not over. Morata tested the PSG goalkeeper again, and he stepped up to the task one more time. Even defender Dani Carvajal had his chance, firing a curl that missed the target just by an inch. Nico Williams put the cherry on top of his phenomenal performance with a formidable conclusion that could only be stopped by Donnarumma’s crossbar.  

Italy gave some signs of life as Mateo Retegui (who had replaced an apathetic Gianluca Scamacca…) missed the conversion from an encouraging Lorenzo Pellegrini suggestion, then the Roma captain took a set piece which went off target. Just too little for the Azzurri

Spain seemed to take their feet off the pedal in the latest stages of the game but there was still time for substitute Ayoze Perez to call Donnarumma to action again twice. Italy’s portierone was commendable, as he even went to join his teammates in attack during a last gasp corner kick action, as the Azzurri looked for a desperate equalizer. He was the only one to save in an absolutely dreadful night for Italy. 

Spalletti has only three days to rebuild the morale of a team that was totally outclassed. One draw against Croatia would be enough for the Azzurri to qualify, but Italy need more than that. They need to prove they can bounce back fast and convincingly.      



June 20, 2024 – Euro 2024 Group B

SCORER: 55′ Calafiori (I, o.g.)

SPAIN (4-2-3-1): Unai Simon; Carvajal, Le Normand, Laporte, Cucurella; Rodri, Fabian Ruiz (94′ Merino); Yamal (71′ Ferran Torres), Pedri (71′ Alex Baena), Williams (78′ Oyarzabal); Morata (78′ Ayoze) (Raya, Remiro, Nacho, Vivian, Joselu, Dani Olmo, Grimaldo, Jesus Navas, Zubimendi, Fermin Lopez) Coach: De la Fuente
ITALY (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Calafiori, Dimarco; Barella, Jorginho (46′ Cristante); Chiesa (64′ Zaccagni), Frattesi (46′ Cambiaso), Pellegrini (82′ Raspadori); Scamacca (64′ Retegui) (Vicario, Meret, Buongiorno, Gatti, Darmian, Bellanova, Mancini, Fagioli, El Shaarawy, Folorunsho) Coach: Spalletti

REFEREE: Mr. Vincic (Slovenia)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Rodri, Le Normand, Carvajal (S), Donnarumma, Cristante (I); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 4′