This years’ Euro has unveiled a completely different Italian side that takes pleasure in launching direct attacks and doesn’t only sit back and defend. Maintaining their lineage of strong defence, Italy have developed themselves to be on the front foot of the game.
The Azzurri rode through on the goals by the ‘bite’ victim Giorgio Chiellini in the 33rd minute and Graziano Pelle in the injury time. Despite Spain’s disappointing display overall, their hero was the keeper David De Gea because if not for him, the defending champions would have had an even more humiliating exit from the tournament.
The Manchester United keeper was forced into action from the very beginning of the game as within 10 minutes of the playing time, he pushed wide a header from Pelle and dived to put away an Emanuele Giaccherini’s overhead kick. Italy established their dominance as they kept surging forward thus, troubling the Spanish defence to bits.
Italy finally found their first goal in the 33rd minute when Chiellini scored off a rebound after De Gea failed to clutch on to Eder’s free kick. Again in the 45th minute, De Gea stepped up for his nation as he pushed away Giaccherini’s curling effort from the top corner.
With Italy dominating the first half completely, Vicente Del Bosque replaced Nolito with Aritz Aduriz at half time and Spain for some time did look brighter. But to their dismay, their shots could only make it to Buffon’s safety.
As the clock ticked by, Span grew desperate for at least an equalizer with Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas working tirelessly in the midfield to find the final ball through Aduriz and Lucas Vasquez but their cries brought no respite.
In the dying minutes of the game, Buffon was finally put to some real work by Spain when he leapt on to make double saves from Iniesta and Gerard Pique.
When the game was almost over for La Roja, Pelle put the nail in their coffin as he scored another ball for Italy after his superb individual skill show. As the European crown awaits its new holder, Italy will face the world champions Germany in the quarters at Bordeaux on July 2.