Euro 2020: It’s here, it’s beautiful, it’s at Wembley: Roll on semi-finals and Italy v Spain – The Warm-Up
It’s time for the Euro 2020 semi-finals, and while some of the English press have already switched focus to Wednesday’s England vs Denmark match, there is of course Italy vs Spain in the huge first encounter at Wembley tonight. Also, England’s subs are like Barca in their prime, and there will be a full crowd coming to a stadium near you.
'Very unfair' to have few Italian fans at semi-final against Spain - Mancini
Italy have won every match at the Euros, which has stretched that you’ve-probably-heard-about-it-already unbeaten run to 32 games, and in the process they have had the most attempts (101) and conceded just the two goals.
Spain, meanwhile, top the standings for goals scored (12), average possession (67.2%) and, of course, passing accuracy (89.4%), meaning we have a collision of two heavyweights where the victor will likely emerge as the final’s real favourite.
Luis Enrique's Spain meet Roberto Mancini's Italy in the Euro 2020 semi-final
Image credit: Getty Images
The majority of their respective squads have sampled little success on the international stage, but both recent successes – this century – have ensured that past and subsequent failures do not weigh as heavily on the shoulders as their England counterparts, who face a Danish side who have 1992 to live off – not a distant 1966.
Will we be entertained? Let’s hope so. The fact that a final is at stake means caginess could come to the fore at Wembley, but there is enough quality on show to ensure that this match will be decided by a moment of brilliance rather than another own goal.
There are stories no matter which nation wins. Denmark’s would be the most celebrated, but for both Italy and Spain there is a chance to signal a new era has begun. Both are just two matches away, and even if it does prove to be a tense affair tonight, we cannot wait to see it unfold.
Enrique: Spain team wants to give fans somethng to 'shout about'
Kane’s battle cry
If you’re reading Tuesday’s newspapers you could be forgiven for thinking it’s Wednesday morning given a fair few are already focusing on England’s game against Denmark (England are in a semi-final, btw).
And for 27-year-old England Harry Kane this is a potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity given they are two games from winning a major tournament on home soil. Forget the fact we came so close in 2018 in some World Cup thing, this is as close as winning on home turf could get for these players given England have so far fallen short in securing future tournaments. Remember, handbags weren’t enough.
“It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere,” Kane said.
It’s going to be an experience that we probably won’t have as players again, unless we have a home tournament for the younger boys. For me and a few of the older, more experienced ones it will be the last chance to play a major tournament game at Wembley. What an opportunity. What a moment it will be.
“Hopefully we can win and have similar scenes to what we had [in the last 16] against Germany.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Full crowds confirmed
Leicester 4, Aston Villa 0. Monday, 29 March 2020. That was the last time a full crowd was allowed to attend a Premier League game, but come August we look set to get a clean sweep of capacity crowds in England after the government’s latest announcement.
Both the Premier League and EFL welcomed the move, and while it will be approached with caution given some spectators will not have been doubly vaccinated, the sight of full crowds should help us forget about the season where someone in a production studio was made to press the 'cheer' button then quickly change when the ball in fact had not gone in. So long.
Leicester fans at Wembley
Image credit: Getty Images
IN THE CHANNELS
A la prime Barcelona when Lionel Messi and Dani Alves used to do this before matches. Okay, plenty have done it since then, all we’re saying is that Jack Grealish, Ben Chilwell and Phil Foden are basically just like them.
Not so retro, but on the day of the first Euro 2020 semi-final it’s also five years since eventual Euro 2016 winners Portugal won their last-four tie against Wales. That leap from Cristiano Ronaldo…