Thanks to a dizzying display of pace, power, and aggression, Leonardo Spinazzola has been Italy's most consistent and impactful player through the Azzurri's first four matches. Spinazzola's performances came as no surprise to Roma fans, but thanks to his impressive run at Euro 2020, Roma's left-back was earning rave reviews from fans and pundits all over Europe. With multiple man-of-the-match performances in the group stage and some of the fastest sprints clocked at the tournament thus far, Spinazzola was even making a case for the tournament MVP.
So when Italy took the pitch in Munich tonight against top-ranked Belgium and their golden generation, Spinazzola figured to loom large in Roberto Mancini's plans as Italy looked to secure a place in the semi-finals against Spain, who edged past Switzerland earlier in the afternoon.
And through the first three-quarters of the match, Spinazzola was doing just that: breezing up and down the left flank, working in tandem with Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne to give the Belgian defense fits. Spinazzola even pulled off a miraculous last-ditch save with his thigh to prevent Romelu Lukaku from leveling the match in the 76th minute.
But then disaster struck two minutes later. With a loose ball gently rolling towards the attacking third, Spinazzola used the very same speed for which he's been lauded over the past three weeks to seize upon the ball and give Italy an unexpected counter-attack, but no sooner than he made his move, Spinazzola pulled up lame, clutching at the back of his leg.
Spinazzola immediately called for a sub before falling onto the pitch, practically inconsolable as his Roma teammate Bryan Cristante tried to comfort him as the team medics attend to him.
While we wait for official confirmation from the Italy camp, the initial news is not good...
According to Sky Sport, Spinazzola has damaged his Achilles tendon; an injury that could keep him sidelined for a significant stretch of time. At this point, we can only speculate about the nature of the injury and the likely recovery period, so we'll pass along word once Italy and/or Roma confirm the severity of Spinazzola's injury.
Either way, this is a crushing blow for a player who was in the midst of the best stretch of his career, so let's hope for the best.