Three games to go before the winner of Euro 2020 is crowned and it is now just 6/4 that football comes home on Sunday night. All four semi-finalists played their three group games in their own stadiums. That may be a coincidence, but it bodes well for England back at Wembley for the final week.
The first semi-final is a rerun of the Euro 2012 final which saw Spain run out 4-0 winners over Italy. In fact, it is the fifth time they have met in the European Championships finals in the last five runnings of the tournament, with two group stage draws in 2008 and 2012 before the Spanish victory in the final and Italy winning their round of 16 clash in 2016, 2-0.
The scoring that day was started by Giorgio Chiellini and there are reasons to believe he may have an influence in the attacking third once again, alongside his long-time club and country defensive companion Leonardo Bonucci. Of the five goals Spain have conceded this tournament, three of them came from crosses into the box and they have been susceptible at set pieces. Both of Italy’s centre halves have had goals disallowed in the tournament and prices of 14/1 about either Chiellini or Bonucci getting on the scoresheet appeal.
This is a clash of two teams with similar styles. Teams who like to play possession based football and press high up the pitch. Spain were devastating with these tactics during the glory years of a decade ago and while still largely dominating games with possession, they lack the killer instinct in front of goal. That may sound like a silly comment considering they scored ten goals in two games back-to-back, but they were given a large helping hand with two own goals versus Slovakia and Croatia were out on their feet in extra-time.
After the extra thirty minutes in the last 16, La Roja were taken to penalties against Switzerland which may start to tell ahead of this semi-final. Italy managed the match against Belgium fantastically well with substitutions around 70 minutes to kill the game and Roberto Mancini will preside over the freshest squad.
There is no doubt Leonardo Spinnazzola will be a massive miss at left-back and will likely be replaced by Chelsea’s Emerson Palmieri for Italy. Spain’s Pablo Sarabia is also a doubt having had an MRI scan after a muscle injury suffered versus the Swiss. He, along with Sergio Busquets, had appeared to revive Spain’s fortunes when starting their three victories.
Spain are 15/8 to win the match (Evs to qualify) with the draw 2/1 while Italy are 6/4 to win the game in 90 minutes (8/11 to qualify). That is a bigger price than they were to overcome Belgium, and yet I thought Roberto Martinez’s men, ranked number one in the world, are a slightly better outfit than this current Spain side. Therefore, the value must lie with the Azzurri to book their place in the final for the second time in three European campaigns.