Italy, champion and old acquaintance who has been choked by Spain in the 21st century


The Spanish men’s soccer team will play this Thursday (9:00 p.m.) its second match of the Euro Cup that is being held in Germany and will do so against the current champion, Italy, a rival that, like Croatia, is an old acquaintance that will not be forgotten. has been completely bad in recent years.

The clash between Luis de la Fuente’s team and Luciano Spalletti’s will be number 41 in a history full of tense, exciting and almost always even duels, but since 2008 there have been more joys from the ‘Roja’ than from the ‘ Azzurra’. Statistically, a lot of equality with 13 victories for Spain, 11 for Italy and 16 draws, with 45 Spanish goals and 46 Italian ones.

You don’t have to look back too far to see the latest encounters between these two world champions who will meet this Thursday at the Veltins-Arena for the eighth time since 2016 and the fourth since 2021. And of all these confrontations, the ‘ Roja’ has only lost one, 2-0 in the round of 16 of the 2016 Euro Cup in France, where the ‘Azzurra’ was superior and eliminated them with goals from Chiellini and Pellè in a match from which Álvaro Morata survives.

Of the rest, despite not having the victory, there is another Italian joy, that of the EURO 2021 semifinals, where Morata balanced Federico Chiesa’s goal and the ticket to the final was finally for those coached then by Roberto Mancini in the penalty shootout. Days later, Italy would repeat from eleven meters to beat England and win their second European Championship.

However, the Spanish ‘vendetta’ did not have to wait long because months after that success, the two teams met in one of the semifinals of the ‘Final Four’ of the Nations League where Italy played host. Two goals from Ferran Torres in the first half gave an advantage to Luis Enrique Martínez’s team, who held on to win despite Pellegrini’s goal in the final stretch.

Two years later, they repeated the semi-final duel in the ‘F4’ of this competition and again the victory was for the Spanish team, already with Luis de la Fuente in command and also by 2-1. Joselu Mato’s scoring nose, attentive to deflect a rebounded ball, made it 2-1 in the 87th minute after goals from Yeremi Pino and Ciro Immobile at the start of the match.

Furthermore, of these matches, Spain and Italy were in the same qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the ‘Azzurra’ could not win either match, drawing (1-1) at home and clearly falling at the Santiago Bernabéu (3-0) in a clash remembered for the exhibition of Isco Alarcón.

In fact, in the 21st century, except for that 2-0 victory in 2016, the four-time world champion has only defeated the three-time European champion once more, in a friendly in 2011 by 2-1, while they suffered setbacks in his four official matches, although three from the penalty spot.

Thus, in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Euro Cup, Spain’s history began to change by eliminating Italy on penalties after a goalless draw, while in the edition four years later, 1-1 in the group stage and then a 4-0 defeat of the then world champion in the final. The following year, 0-0 in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup and the Spanish went to the final again from eleven meters.

Already at the end of the 20th century, the joys were for the ‘Azzurra’ who defeated Spain in the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup in the United States by winning 2-1 in a match marked by Roberto Baggio’s last goal, the hand in hand that Pagliuca took from Julio Salinas with 1-1 and Tassotti’s elbow to Luis Enrique. In the group stage of the 1988 Euro Cup, a goal by the late and remembered Gianluca Vialli was decisive, while the two teams drew goalless in the premiere of the 1980 continental event.

This match was curiously the first official match between both teams since the 1934 World Cup, a clash that was marked by controversy. They met in the quarterfinals and Italy, host of that event, opted for rough play to stop their rival, and the match ended 1-1 and seven Spanish players were injured and could not play in the tiebreaker match that, with controversy arbitration, won by the Italians, later champions. Their first official matches were in the 1920s and at the Olympic Games of 1920, 1924 and 1928, with a resounding 7-1 win for the Azzurri in the last match in the tiebreaker match.