Italy are this year’s UEFA Nations League Finals hosts and you kind of have to have fancied them for the Cup given that they come into this semi as European Champions. But it was a tale of missed chances and ill discipline that cost the Azzurri here. La Roja on the other hand played vintage attacking open soccer. The fact that coach Luis Enrique had the teremity to play a 17 year old(Gavi) on the right side of midfield and still win showed that you can be a team in transition but results can also be obtained. It is tempting to say the turning point of the match was the Bonnucci red card. Not at all. Insigne’s missed a golden chance to level when Italy was down 1-0 but side footed wide with a goal gaping.
The home side’s defensive organization after half time was exemplary. They kept their best attacker Chiesa on and sacrificed Bernardeschi for Chiellini . The high tempo first half soon fizzled into a defense versus attack scenario and to Italy’s credit they hung on. The weakest link in their chain was the right flank in which Di Lorenzo got little to no help from Barella and Chiesa defensively. This allowed Alonso to make more forays into the Italy half. The goal by Pellegrini was more or less what the Italians deserved for their defensive show in the second half. They exploited Spain’s weaknesses in defensing counter attacks with pace.
Now to the awards. No doubt the most impressive player for Spain was Ferran Torres, the City man enjoying his role as the down the center attacker for his National Side. He may not get much game time at City but for La Roja he is turning out to be their talisman. For Italy Donarruma underlined his bludgeoning rep with some top drawer save notably from Marcos Alonso(although the Paris shotstopper got lucky when he developed butter fingers in the first half).