By Gerald Lutchman
THE two power houses of European football went head-to-head on Tuesday.
It was a thriller. Italy were boasting a 33-game unbeaten run and 15 wins in a row. And now a draw. Spain could not be beaten in the game and penalties decided who moved on and it was Italy.
Italy 1 vs Spain 1
Penalties 4 -2 for Italy
It was a fantastic game and one of the types that we love to see. Even though it was low scoring it was enthralling. It was captivating, entertaining and nail-biting all in one. This game is certainly one of the classics and had a deserving end. Italy the best team of the tournament and Spain, the most improved team were goliaths, it did not disappoint.
It was end-to-end action in the first half where Italy with their speed and fluent passing created many chances. Spain came into the game fully in the second half and dominated. Italy knew they could not match the Spanish speed and conditioning.
Italy retreated and decided in extra time that penalties were the best opportunity to advance. It was a stroke of pure strategic brilliance from the coach Mancini.
In the shootout the Italians were counting on the Spanish record of very poor penalty takers in the competition. The Italians looked very confident, almost as if they had prepared for this exact moment. Their approach and body language was superior as well as their confidence.
Earlier, Federico Chiesa (60th) scored a magnificent goal for Italy. In the 80th minute Alvaro Morata, after missing two clear chances finally found the net. Later on he missed a penalty in the shoot-out. This led to extra time where the Spaniards were pressing and the Italians defending. This was not only an exciting game it was also very strategic.
Italy now waits for either England or Denmark in the final.
England vs Denmark
England are in form and Denmark are on a wining stretch. Both teams are playing excellent football. England have beaten Denmark 12 times and Denmark have won four of the encounters.
Advantage England – but I am going on a limb and saying that Denmark will win.