Two words: Hot Mess
After Spain’s match with Turkey, it looked as though the defending champions of Europe would be favorites in their match against the Azzurri. But it was not to be, Italy came out of the gates swinging and didn’t really stop. For one of the more weaker Italian sides we’ve seen in a while, they didn’t play like it. Spain came out looking as though they were running on heavy legs.
The Azzurri would get a set piece just outside Spain’s box In the 33rd minute .The ball was sent into the box and ping ponged around. David De Gea would make the initial save, but couldn’t get the rebound as he kicked it straight to Giorgio Chiellini who all but willed that ball into the back of the net.
Spain’s defense was a three alarm dumpster fire.
Italy shut down the Spanish midfield of Fabregas, Busquets and Ineista. Without those creative cogs, not much scoring is going to be done. As you can imagine Alvaro Morata wouldn't see much of the ball in the first half.
The start of the second half was more of the same. Morata would have a chance on goal in the 49th on a corner kick. He headed it right into the waiting arms of Gigi Buffon. Morata would but subbed off in the 70th for Lucas Vazquez.
This match could have easily been 5-0 nothing without blinking an eye. But it was David De Gea that kept Spain in it for most of the match. It wouldn’t be until added time that Italy would score again - sending Spain home with a loss, 2-0.
Take a look at the team heat map for both Spain and Italy. A lot going on in the midfield, though they were really going for either wing. They switched it up a lot from one wing to the other.
Spain on the right, Italy on the left.
Because of the ineffectiveness of the midfield, Morata was pretty much taken out of the equation as well.
28 touches? Spain’s midfield just couldn’t get anything going, even if Spain as a whole had a slight advantage in possession. Just look at Morata’s attacking dashboard. The Azzurri were just THAT good on defense.
Player Rating: 5.5
As someone who’s usually a solid threat in the air, he wasn’t much help on set pieces. Ramos doesn’t get all the blame. The whole of the Spain defense as I mentioned was a dumpster fire. He like the rest of the back line had a very unimpressive night, which is why they’re about to pack their bags for the flight home and Italy will move on to face a very strong German team.
He completed 43 of 51 passes, though he wasn’t very effective in the attacking third. He’s known to sneak forward and sometimes play as an extra midfielder. He would try, but Italy was playing counter and several times he was caught with his shorts down around his ankles having to bust ass back to defend.
We’ve seen a lot better from him. The knockout stage was not the time to have a bad night at the office, when Italy comes out gunning to snipe off the defending champs.
Player Rating: 6.0
Lucas came on for Alvaro Morata in the 70th minute. So we got about 20 minutes of him. Lucas spent most of that 20ish minutes drifting out wide, towards the wing.
In less time, he matched and was even better than Morata in several stats.
Only bad thing I see really, is he was 0-3 in take-on’s. In comparison Morata had exactly one take-on that failed. Lucas also tops him in chances created 2-0. He almost had as many touches in 20 minutes that Morata had in 70.
Lucas added some much needed pace to a abnormally slow Spain.
Player Rating: 6.5
Things I Learned
This was the 35th encounter between Italy and Spain. The record was perfectly balanced with 10 wins each and 14 draws.
Spain had eliminated Italy in their two previous encounters in the knockout stages of the EURO: 0-0 (4-2 after penalties) in 2008; 4-0 in the 2012 final.
David De Gea is really, really good. If it wasn’t for him, this game would have gotten out of hand quickly.
Italy had failed to score in three of their last four knockout games at the EURO.
Italy have used more players than any other team at EURO 2016 (22). That’s one short of using the entire roster.
The one good thing you can take away from this is that Ramos and Vazquez can get their holiday on and rest up for the start of pre-season. They’ll be headed to Canada for the International Champions Cup/United States Tour in the middle of July.