Italy and Spain face off in Euro 2020 semi-finals as English anticipation deepens


LONDON (Reuters) – Italy and Spain meet in a successful first Euro 2020 semi-final in front of an expected crowd of 60,000 at Wembley on Tuesday July 6 as anticipation builds ahead of the four England’s last matches against Denmark.

Tuesday’s game is the latest installment in a burgeoning rivalry between Italy and Spain, with the nations meeting for a fourth consecutive European Championship.

Spain won on penalties in the quarter-finals in Vienna in 2008 en route to the trophy, then defeated Italy 4-0 in the final in Kiev four years later.

Italy got their revenge by winning 2-0 in the round of 16 of Euro 2016 and the Azzurri appear as the favorites this time as they arrive at Wembley after knocking out Belgium in the quarter-finals for extend their unbeaten run to 32 remarkable games. .

“We know that if we play like we did in the last 30 or so games we can come away with a good result,” Italian defensive pillar Leonardo Bonucci said on Monday.

While Italy – whose only European Championship title came in 1968 – have been the tournament’s most notable team so far, Spain overcame a difficult start to reach the bottom four as they ‘she is aiming for a record fourth continental crown.

Luis Enrique’s side beat Croatia 5-3 in extra time in the knockout first round before beating Switzerland on penalties in the last eight.

“We just have to be motivated by the fact that we are facing such a big and prestigious team in such a wonderful arena as Wembley, knowing that we could be involved in the final in just a few days,” added Bonucci. .

Italy coach Roberto Mancini and his Spanish counterpart regretted that fans of the two semi-finalists could not travel to watch the match in London.

LACK OF FANS TRAVELING “UNJUST”

More than 60,000 spectators will be allowed inside the 90,000-seat Wembley after the UK government eased restrictions on coronaviruses that were put in place during the tournament.

However, supporters were not allowed to travel from either country just for the game, which is common in this pandemic-hit tournament.

“It’s a strange situation. I hope there are more Spanish and Italian fans than English fans, but these are things we cannot control,” Luis Enrique said on Monday.

“I’m not going to waste energy on this. We wish it was different, but we accept it.”

The Spanish players attend a team training session in Las Rozas, a suburb of Madrid, Spain, on Monday, July 5, 2021. Italy will play against Spain next Tuesday for the semi-finals of the ‘Euro 2020. (AP Photo / Manu Fernandez)

Italy and Spain both enjoyed the support of their own fans in the home group matches in Rome and Sevilla respectively, and Mancini called the situation in London “unfair”.

“It’s pretty unfair if I’m perfectly honest, very unfair indeed,” said the former Manchester City manager.

Italy are deprived of full-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who underwent surgery on Monday for a torn Achilles tendon against Belgium in Munich.

“MORE BELIEF” IN ENGLAND

Whoever emerges victorious from Tuesday’s clash will await the winner of Wednesday’s second semi-final between England and Denmark.

Gareth Southgate’s England side have raised hopes and expectations for the host nation with their performances so far, placing in the bottom four without even conceding a goal.

They dream of reaching a first major tournament final since winning the World Cup at Wembley in 1966.

England have no fond memories of their recent semi-final appearances, including their loss at this point to Croatia in Moscow in the 2018 World Cup.

“We will probably have a little more confidence in the game against Denmark than we did in the game against Croatia,” Manchester United captain Harry Maguire said on Monday.

“We haven’t been in a semi-final for as long as a country so the belief wasn’t there. I’m sure the fans believe it more now.”

Denmark itself has had a remarkable run at this Euro since the trauma of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their opening loss to Finland in Copenhagen.

“We have incredible support in England and we were their second favorite team, but now we are their enemies,” Danish defender Andreas Christensen, who plays club football for Chelsea, told local media.

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