If a football purist could bottle ninety minutes of football, then the game that played out between Italy and Spain would be high up on their list. The Italians took the lead through a fantastic Federico Chiesa finish, curled into the top right hand corner.
Spain dominated the game from thereon in, and netted a fully-deserved equaliser when Dani Olmo played Alvaro Morata through on goal, with the Juventus forward cooly slotting past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Perhaps fittingly, the best game of the tournament went the distance, with Italy and Spain having to be separated by penalties. After a miss apeice, Alvaro Morata went on to miss the fourth spot kick, while Jorginho’s conversion directly after sent Italy into the final, and Italians into euphoria
Here are 5 things 101 picked out from the tie
1. Federico Chiesa could explode into life next season
Federico Chiesa is a player that has always been destined for great things, and cemented his place in Juventus’s starting eleven last campaign, starting 33 times for the Old Lady.
Nine goals and nine assists represent a good return for the Italian winger, but certainly did not set Serie A ablaze. However, if this tournament is anything to go by, this could change next season.
Chiesa was unplayable at times, even for a defender as accomplished as Aymeric Laporte. Add this performance to that in extra time of Italy’s tie with Austria, and it is seems as though Chiesa is growing into the player that many saw at Fiorentina.
2. Sergio Busquets is far from past it
It is easy to describe any midfielder over the age of 30 as “past it” or “heading downhill”, however Sergio Busquets rolled back the years with a rolls-royce performance as he dominated the Italian midfield trio in the first half.
Passes in the 1st half of Italy vs Spain
Verratti, Jorginho, Barella = 35
Sergio Busquets alone = 35
Phenomenal midfielder, one of the best ever 👏🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/QoaZIBUDwj
— Jack Bryant (@JackBryantt) July 6, 2021
The Barcelona veteran was all over the pitch, despite speed not being his strongest suit, demonstrating the off-the-ball intelligence that Busquets has possessed since he first burst through in Catalunya.
3. Italy will face England or Denmark on Sunday
While the football on show on Sunday may not be of the same quality as it was tonight, X will face either England or Denmark in the final of Euro2020.
The great footballing nation, who few gave a chance heading into the competition, are now suddenly one step away from lifting a major European trophy for the first time since XX.
Standing in their way could be an England side accompanied by a raucous crowd at Wembley stadium, or a Danish side looking to complete a fairytale after their midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in the opening game of their tournament.
Whoever they end up facing, Italy will certainly fancy themselves to lift a major trophy for the first time since 2006.
4. Italy are the favourite for final
No matter who won this semi-final, it seems clear the winner of it was to be favourite for the final, which is due to be played on Sunday evening.
Wonderful game of football. Time just flew by.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) July 6, 2021
The high quality of football on show, which left pundits, fans and reporters alike purring, is far above the levels that either England or Denmark have shown to date in the tournament. Of course, across one game it is not necessarily the better football team that win, but it will certainly give their fellow finalists something to think about.
Even without Leonardo Spinazzola, Italy will represent a tough challenge for whoever they face.
5. Spain’s side is one to watch in 2024
It seems unfair to suggest that Spain were not really looking at this tournament as one that they could win, with the nation in the midst of a rebuild.
However, La Furia Roja have offered a fantastic account of themselves, and can perhaps call upon some of the most gifted youngsters in Europe.
Passes Attempted: 55
Passes Completed: 55
🤯 No player has attempted so many in a game at #EURO2020 and not misplaced one
🥁 Ladies and gentlemen: Pedri pic.twitter.com/KD6flwRRpi
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 6, 2021
Pedri is, of course, the player that has caught the eye this tournament, but Dani Olmo was the standout performer against the Azzurri. The 23-year-old was central to Spain’s attacking fluidity, knitting together their attacks across the game as they looked to penetrate the Spanish backline.
Add to this the talent of Ferran Torres (21-years-old), Pau Torres (24 years old) and Brahim Diaz (currently amongst the U21 squad), and 2024 could well prove to be another fantastic tournament for Spain, where they will feel much more confident in their chances.