The Azzurri saw off another titan of European football earlier today by defeating Spain in penalties. They’re on to the finals of the tournament for the first time since 2012, ready to face either England or Denmark this Sunday, July 11. Goals were provided by Federico Chiesa and Alvaro Morata, respectively, but it was Jorginho’s penalty kick that propelled the Azzurri into the final (along with absolutely whiffed kicks by Dani Olmo and the aforementioned Morata).
The Azzurri certainly looked far weaker as a side today than they did against Belgium, and it didn’t take a footballing expert to figure out that much of that fall-off came down to the absence of Leonardo Spinazzola. Since Spinazzola won’t be back playing football for half a year, there’s not much that Roberto Mancini can do other than hope that Emerson Palmieri is able to get into better shape between now and Sunday. It would certainly be a tall order, but the idea of Italy winning this tournament was considered remote given the multiple key absences in the squad, particularly Roma players Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolò Zaniolo.
The fact that they’ve steamrolled their way through this competition with only two goals allowed is a testament to the mental fortitude of this side and its manager. We’ll soon see if they can finish the job and bring more glory to one of the most important national teams in world football.