One of Europe’s longest-standing rivalries comes to the fore once again in the first UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final as Italy and Spain meet for the fourth successive EURO.
• Italy came out on top in the round of 16 five years ago, ending Spain’s eight-year reign as European champions – a run that had included wins against the Azzurri in the 2008 quarter-finals and 2012 final.
• Italy edged past Belgium 2-1 in the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-finals, recording their 15th successive UEFA European Championship win in the process – a new competition record, eclipsing the mark of 14 they had previously shared with Germany and Belgium themselves. Spain similarly had to hold their nerve to reach the last four, finally finding a way past Switzerland in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.
• The winners will take on England or Denmark in the final, also at Wembley, on 11 July.
• Italy ended Spain’s interest in UEFA EURO 2016, running out 2-0 winners in the round of 16 at the Stade de France thanks to goals in each half from Giorgio Chiellini (33) and Graziano Pellè (90+1). Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Florenzi and substitute Lorenzo Insigne all featured for Italy; David de Gea, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Álvaro Morata all started for Spain.
• The teams also met twice in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying; the game in Turin finished 1-1 before Morata scored Spain’s final goal in a 3-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid. Spain went on to finish top of Group G; runners-up Italy were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Sweden in the play-offs, the first time they had failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1958.
• The nations have met 37 times: they have recorded 11 victories each and 15 draws, with two Italy wins to one Spanish and three draws in six EURO encounters.
• The sides are facing off for a fourth EURO in succession: they drew 0-0 in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals in Vienna before Cesc Fàbregas converted the winning kick as Spain triumphed 4-2 on penalties. Giorgio Chiellini was in the defeated Italy side.
• They also drew 1-1 in their opening game of UEFA EURO 2012, before locking horns again in the final which Spain won 4-0, the biggest ever final victory. Alba scored the second goal at the NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv with Busquets also in the Spain side; Bonucci and Chiellini both started for Italy, although the latter went off injured midway through the first half.
• That UEFA EURO 2016 loss is Spain’s only defeat by Italy in the last seven fixtures between the sides (W2 D4) since a 2-1 friendly loss in Bari in August 2011. In competitive games, that defeat in Saint-Denis five years ago is Spain’s sole reverse in the last six fixtures (W2 D3) since a 2-1 reverse to the Azzurri at the 1994 World Cup – a game current head coach Luis Enrique started for Spain.
• This 38th fixture against Spain means Italy have played only France (39 matches) and Switzerland (59) more frequently; the Azzurri are now Spain’s joint most common opponents, level with Portugal.
• The teams will meet again in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals at Milan’s San Siro on 6 October.
EURO facts: Italy
• Italy’s EURO semi-final record is W3 L1:
1968 W 0-0 Soviet Union (won on coin toss)
1988 L 0-2 Soviet Union
2000 W 0-0 Netherlands (aet, 3-1 pens)
2012 W 2-1 Germany
• This is Italy’s tenth EURO final tournament and their seventh in a row since sitting out the 1992 edition in Sweden. Only twice have they failed to advance through the group stage, in 1996 and 2004; they were quarter-finalists at UEFA EURO 2016.
• Italy triumphed on home soil at the 1968 UEFA European Championship and have been runners-up twice since – in 2000 and to Spain 2012.
• This time round, Roberto Mancini’s side won all ten of their qualifiers to finish first in Group J, swelling the number of countries to have reached the finals with a perfect record to eight.
• A 3-0 win away to Bosnia and Herzegovina in their penultimate qualifier was Italy’s tenth successive win in all internationals, the first time in their history they had achieved that feat.
• The Azzurri made it 11 straight victories with a 9-1 home win against Armenia in their final qualifying game, the first time they had scored nine goals in a game since August 1948. Seven different players were on the scoresheet, a new national record.
• Having never scored three goals in a EURO finals game before this tournament, Italy managed it in both their first two matches, beating Switzerland and Turkey 3-0 at the Olimpico in Rome, where they secured first place in Group A with a 1-0 defeat of Wales on Matchday 3.
• Italy squeezed past Austria in the last 16 in London, extra-time goals from substitutes Federico Chiesa (95) and Matteo Pessina (105) taking them into a fourth successive EURO quarter-final.
• In the last eight, first-half goals from Nicolò Barella (31) and Lorenzo Insigne (44) set up a 2-1 win against Belgium at the Football Arena Munich, Italy extending their winning EURO run to 15 and ending Belgium’s at 14 in the process.
• That made Italy’s record in knockout ties at the EURO final tournament W9 L6.
• The win against Austria in the last 16 was Italy’s third in their seven games at Wembley, the previous six all against England (W2 D3 L1). Their last visit before UEFA EURO 2020 was a 1-1 friendly draw in March 2018 in which Insigne scored an 87th-minute penalty equaliser and Bonucci, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jorginho, Ciro Immobile, Chiesa and Andrea Belotti also featured. The Azzurri’s sole defeat at Wembley was a 2-0 loss in qualifying for the 1978 World Cup.
• Italy’s record in England overall is W8 D6 L11. At EURO ’96 they played their first two group games at Anfield in Liverpool, where they beat Russia 2-1 before losing to the Czech Republic by the same score, bowing out after a goalless draw against eventual champions Germany at Manchester’s Old Trafford.
• At the 1966 World Cup, the Azzurri opened with a 2-0 win against Chile at Sunderland’s Roker Park but were beaten 1-0 by the Soviet Union there in their second fixture and eliminated by a 1-0 defeat by North Korea at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough.
EURO facts: Spain
• Spain have won all four of their EURO semi-finals:
1964 W 2-1 v Hungary (aet)
1984 W 1-1 v Denmark (aet, 5-4 pens)
2008 W 3-0 v Russia
2012 W 0-0 v Portugal (aet, 4-2 pens)
• This is Spain’s seventh consecutive EURO. Champions in 1964, they were also victorious in 2008 and 2012 to become the first side to retain the Henri Delaunay trophy.
• Spain’s defence of the trophy was ended by Italy in the round of 16 at UEFA EURO 2016. Eliminated also in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup, by hosts Russia on penalties, this is the first time Spain have reached the semi-final of a major tournament since UEFA EURO 2012.
• Spain and Germany/West Germany are the most successful EURO teams having won three editions each.
• Spain qualified for UEFA EURO 2020 by winning eight and drawing two of their ten qualifiers to finish on 26 points in Group F, five above second-placed Sweden – with whom they drew 0-0 in Group E on Matchday 1.
• The three-time champions are one of five sides who did not lose a game in the UEFA EURO 2020 preliminaries, along with Belgium, Italy – who both won all their fixtures – Denmark and Ukraine.
• Spain had more shots (227), possession (70%) and completed a greater percentage of their passes (91%) than any other team in qualifying.
• Luis Enrique’s side played all three Group E games at the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville, opening with that goalless draw against eventual section winners Sweden before being held 1-1 by Poland. They found their scoring touch in the third game, however, overwhelming Slovakia 5-0 – the first time Spain had scored five goals in a EURO finals game and the joint biggest margin of victory overall at a UEFA European Championship.
• Spain became the first team to score five goals in successive EURO matches with a 5-3 defeat of Croatia in the last 16 on 28 June, a game in which they had led 3-1 with five minutes left. Extra-time goals from Álvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal finally took Spain through.
• Oyarzabal scored the decisive penalty in the 3-1 shoot-out victory against ten-man Switzerland in the quarter-final, the match having finished 1-1 after 120 minutes. Dani Olmo and Gerard Moreno also scored for Spain in the shoot-out, with Sergio Busquets hitting the post and Rodri having his kick saved before La Roja ultimately prevailed.
• Each time Spain have won their quarter-final they have gone on to lift the trophy.
• Spain have lost five of their nine games at Wembley (W2 D2), although they did win the most recent, 2-1 against England in the UEFA Nations League in September 2018 thanks to goals from Saúl Ñíguez and Rodrigo. They have also suffered UEFA European Championship elimination at the ground, losing 4-2 on penalties to England after a goalless 120 minutes in the EURO ’96 quarter-finals.
• Spain’s record in England overall is W5 D5 L9. At the 1966 World Cup, their record was W1 L2; at EURO ’96, where they played all three group games in Leeds before that penalties defeat by England in the last eight, it was W1 D3.
Links and trivia
• Spain coach Enrique was in charge of Roma in 2011/12 when Daniele De Rossi, now a member of Roberto Mancini’s staff, was in the squad.
• Have played in Spain:
Salvatore Sirigu (Sevilla 2016/17 loan, Osasuna 2017 loan)
Ciro Immobile (Sevilla 2015/16)
Alessandro Florenzi (Valencia 2020 loan)
• Have played in Italy:
Álvaro Morata (Juventus 2014–16, 2020– loan)
Fabián Ruiz (Napoli 2018–)
• Have played together:
Alessandro Florenzi & José Luis Gayà (Valencia 2020)
Álvaro Morata & Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus 2014–16, 2020–)
Álvaro Morata & Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa (Juventus 2020–)
Alex Meret, Lorenzo Insigne & Fabián Ruiz (Napoli 2018–)
Giovanni Di Lorenzo & Fabián Ruiz (Napoli 2019–)
Emerson & César Azpilicueta (Chelsea 2017–)
Jorginho & César Azpilicueta (Chelsea 2018–)
Marco Verratti & Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint Germain 2019–)
• Chiesa scored two goals past Unai Simón – both set up by Barella – as Italy beat Spain 3-1 on Matchday 1 of the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championships in Bologna. Meret and substitute Alessandro Bastoni were also in the Italy side, with Oyarzabal and Fabián Ruiz starting alongside Simón for Spain. Italy’s Manuel Locatelli and Dani Olmo of Spain were unused replacements.
• Jorginho started and Emerson came on as a substitute as Chelsea defeated a Manchester City side featuring Rodri, Aymeric Laporte and Ferran Torres 1-0 at Wembley in the 2020/21 FA Cup semi-final on 17 April. Chelsea, with Jorginho again starting, also beat City by the same score in the UEFA Champions League final the following month, though none of those three Spanish internationals nor compatriot Eric García made it off the City bench.
• Laporte scored the winning goal for City at Wembley in their 1-0 win against Tottenham in the 2020/21 League Cup final on 25 April.
• Busquets was in the Barcelona side that won the 2011 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley, beating Manchester United 3-1. He also played alongside Thiago Alcántara and David de Gea for Spain as they defeated England 2-1 at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League in September 2018.
• Chiellini was in the Juventus side that beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley to win a 2017/18 UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie 4-3 on aggregate.
• Morata scored twice in Juventus’s 3-1 home win against a Lazio side featuring Francesco Acerbi and Ciro Immobile on 6 March.
• Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi started both games for Paris Saint-Germain as they beat a Barcelona side featuring Busquets, Jordi Alba and Pedri 5-2 on aggregate in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League round of 16. Busquets and Pedri had also started Barça’s final group game – a 0-3 defeat at home to a Juventus team including Bonucci and substitute Chiesa.
• Spain midfielder Thiago Alcántara was born in the Italian town of San Pietro Vernotico while his father Mazinho was playing for Lecce.
• Italy’s shoot-out record is W4 L7:
8-9 v Czechoslovakia, 1980 UEFA European Championship third-place play-off
3-4 v Argentina, 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final
2-3 v Brazil, 1994 FIFA World Cup final
3-4 v France, 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
3-1 v Netherlands, UEFA EURO 2000 semi-final
5-3 v France, 2006 FIFA World Cup final
2-4 v Spain, UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final
4-2 v England, UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final6-7 v Spain, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final
3-2 v Uruguay, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup third-place play-off
5-6 v Germany, UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final
• Spain’s record in their ten competitive penalty shoot-outs is now W6 L4:
5-4 v Denmark, 1984 UEFA European Championship semi-final
4-5 v Belgium, 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
2-4 v England, EURO ’96 quarter-final
3-2 v Republic of Ireland, 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16
3-5 v South Korea, 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
4-2 v Italy, UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final
4-2 v Portugal, UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final
7-6 v Italy, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final
3-4 v Russia, 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16
3-1 v Switzerland, UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final
• No side has ever won two penalty shoot-outs at the same EURO.
• Italy’s win against Belgium was their 13th in succession, though unlike the first 11 games in that run Roberto Mancini’s side have conceded a goal in each of their last two matches. Italy’s defence has not been breached more than once in any of their last 35 games, since a 3-1 defeat by France in a friendly on 1 June 2018, their second match under Mancini.
• The Azzurri are now unbeaten in 33 internationals (W27 D5), breaking a national record that had lasted since the 1930s. Their last defeat was 1-0 against Portugal in Lisbon in the UEFA Nations League on 10 September 2018.
• The last time Italy fell behind in a game was when Edin Džeko gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a 57th-minute lead in a UEFA Nations League encounter in Florence on 4 September 2020; the Azzurri equalised ten minutes later. That is the only period during their last 23 matches in which Italy have trailed.
• The only other EURO in which Italy won all three group encounters was in 2000, when they also kicked off with a win against Turkey (2-1) before beating Belgium (2-0) and Sweden (2-1) and going on to finish as runners-up to France.
• Nicolò Barella’s goal against Belgium was his sixth at international level and first in tournament football. The Internazionale midfielder scored Italy’s first goal in the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign – seven minutes into their opening fixture, a 2-0 home win against Finland.
• Lorenzo Insigne took his international tally into double figures with his goal against Belgium, making it ten in 45 Azzurri appearances and two at UEFA EURO 2020 following his Matchday 1 strike against Turkey.
• Ciro Immobile won his 50th cap for Italy against Belgium, becoming only the third member of Mancini’s squad to reach the half-century – behind Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, who have both made over 100 appearances. The Lazio striker is also the top scorer in Italy’s party, having found the net on five of his last seven starts for the Azzurri to take his all-time international goal tally to 15. Italy have won all 13 matches in which he has scored.
• Manuel Locatelli’s double against Switzerland on Matchday 2 was the first of his professional career. He had only scored once previously for Italy, in a FIFA World Cup qualifier away to Bulgaria in March this year (2-0). He has made just one substitute appearance since that game against the Swiss.
• Federico Chiesa’s goal against Austria at Wembley was just his second for Italy on his 29th appearance, the only previous one having completed the scoring in the Azzurri’s closing 9-1 UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying win against Armenia.
• Matteo Pessina, a late addition to Italy’s squad following the withdrawal of injured Stefano Sensi, scored the winning goals against both Wales in Rome and Austria in London, having notched his first two at international level in a pre-tournament 7-0 friendly win against San Marino in Cagliari.
• Gaetano Castrovilli, who won the second of his three caps against San Marino, 18 months after his debut, replaced the injured Lorenzo Pellegrini in the squad on the eve of the tournament.
• Twenty-five of the 26 players in Mancini’s squad have made it on to the field of play so far at UEFA EURO 2020, goalkeeper Alex Meret the exception.
• Among the seven Italy players selected for both UEFA EURO 2016 and this tournament are skipper Chiellini, who is appearing in his fourth successive EURO finals, and Bonucci and Salvatore Sirigu, who are both involved in their third. The other survivors from five years ago are Federico Bernardeschi, Alessandro Florenzi, Immobile and quarter-final match-winner Insigne.
• Bonucci made his 16th EURO finals appearance against Belgium, one more than his defensive team-mate Chiellini, and is now one shy of Gianluigi Buffon’s record mark in the tournament for Italy.
• Chiellini and Bonucci are the only members of the Italy squad to have scored at any previous major tournament, the former having found the net against both Brazil at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and Spain at UEFA EURO 2016, while the latter was the Azzurri’s scorer from the penalty spot in the 2016 quarter-final against Germany.
• Leonardo Spinazzola left the field on a stretcher in the quarter-final against Belgium with a ruptured Achilles tendon and faces a long spell on the sidelines.
• Italy will host the final stages of the UEFA Nations League in the autumn. They will re-encounter Spain in the first of the semi-finals in Milan on 6 October.
• Spain’s penalty triumph against Switzerland was their third in a row at the EURO finals following shoot-out victories against Italy in the 2008 quarter-final and Portugal in the 2012 semi-final. They did, however, go out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on penalties, losing to tournament hosts Russia.
• Spain are the top-scoring team at UEFA EURO 2020 – with 12 goals, one more than Italy and Denmark. Three of those have been own goals, including the one that opened the scoring in the 1-1 draw against Switzerland. They also lead the tournament statistics for possession (67.2%) and passing accuracy (89.4%).
• Spain’s 5-3 extra-time victory against Croatia in the round of 16 made them the first team ever to score five goals in successive EURO final tournament encounters.
• Mikel Oyarzabal, who scored the deciding penalty in the shoot-out against Switzerland after also finding the net in extra time against Croatia, has come on as a substitute in all five of Spain’s matches at UEFA EURO 2020 – the only player to do so. Only five of his 18 international caps have been in the starting XI, his last eight appearances having all been off the bench.
• The 5-0 win against Slovakia on Matchday 3 was Spain’s biggest at the EURO finals, surpassing the two 4-0 victories they managed at UEFA EURO 2012 – against the Republic of Ireland in the group stage and Italy in the final.
• Aymeric Laporte’s goal against Slovakia was his first for Spain, on his fourth appearance, with Ferran Torres’ strike 44 seconds after coming on to the field registering as the fastest goal scored at the EURO finals by a substitute since fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Valerón (39 seconds) against Russia at UEFA EURO 2004.
• The Matchday 2 draw against Poland was the third in succession for Spain under Luis Enrique’s charge following a stalemate against Portugal in Madrid on 4 June, in which newly naturalised defender Laporte made his debut, and the goalless encounter with Sweden on Matchday 1. Illness in the Spain camp meant that a second scheduled friendly, against Lithuania in Leganés, was played – and won 4-0 – by Spain’s Under-21 side, with Luis de la Fuente as coach.
• Unbeaten in their five UEFA EURO 2020 encounters, though level after 90 minutes in four of them, Spain have now lost just one of their last 29 internationals – 0-1 away to Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League last November – and are undefeated in 13 games since (W6 D7).
• Enrique opted to select only 24 players, rather than the permitted 26, for his UEFA EURO 2020 squad. There are no Real Madrid players in the party, with regular captain Sergio Ramos, who started nine of the ten qualifiers and scored four goals, missing from a Spain tournament squad for the first time since he made his international debut in 2005.
• In Ramos’s absence, Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets has taken over the captaincy. The 125-cap midfielder – named Star of the Match against both Slovakia and Croatia having missed the first two group games through illness – is one of only three players in the squad who came into UEFA EURO 2020 with 50 or more caps, the others being Jordi Alba – the stand-in skipper against Sweden and Poland, now on 77 appearances – and Koke, who reached his half-century against Portugal.
• Aside from Busquets and Alba, both veterans of the 2012 and 2016 EUROs as well as multiple FIFA World Cups, only five other players in this squad have previous tournament experience – David de Gea, César Azpilicueta, Koke, Thiago Alcántara and Morata, all of whom played five years ago in France.
• Morata, with three goals scored at UEFA EURO 2016 and two so far at this tournament, was the only player in Enrique’s squad other than Alba – on target in the 2012 final win against Italy – to have found the net at a major finals until Laporte, Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres all broke their duck against Slovakia and Azpilicueta – with his first international goal – and Oyarzabal followed suit against Croatia.
• Morata, who struck Spain’s fourth goal in extra time against Croatia to become the country’s joint leading scorer at EURO final tournaments alongside Fernando Torres, had a penalty saved against Slovakia – the fifth in a row that Spain have missed in regular play – and is the only member of the squad with an international goal tally in double figures (21). Koke has yet to score in 55 matches for his country.
• Only one of the 17 major tournament debutants in the squad has over 20 international caps to his name – Rodri, with 24 – and one of them, goalkeeper Robert Sánchez, has yet to make his debut.
• Two of those number – Pau Torres and Gerard Moreno – were UEFA Europa League winners with Villarreal in 2020/21, beating De Gea’s Manchester United on penalties in the final, while Spanish champions Atlético de Madrid are also represented in the squad by two players – Koke and Marcos Llorente. English Premier League winners Manchester City have more players included, four, than any other club – Ferran Torres, Eric García, Rodri and Laporte – while there are three from Copa del Rey winners Barcelona, teenager Pedri joining his two 32-year-old club colleagues Busquets and Alba.
• Domestic cups were also won in 2020/21 by Morata in Italy (Juventus) and Sarabia in France (Paris Saint-Germain), while Azpilicueta lifted the most prestigious club trophy of them all as he captained Chelsea to victory in the UEFA Champions League.
• Gerard Moreno was the joint top scorer in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League with seven goals and also notched 23 for Villarreal in the Spanish Liga, a figure bettered only by Lionel Messi, with 30 for Barcelona. He missed a penalty against Poland and has yet to score in four UEFA EURO 2020 outings, though he did convert his spot kick in the shoot-out win against Switzerland.
• Pedri became the youngest Spanish player to appear in a EURO final tournament match when he started the game against Sweden aged 18 years and 201 days. He then became the youngest from any country to appear in the competition’s knockout phase when he took the field against Croatia 14 days later, though that record was soon eclipsed by England’s Jude Bellingham, who was 18 years four days old when he appeared as a substitute against Ukraine on 3 July.