Two of Chelsea’s dressing room leaders are set to face each other in Tuesday’s semifinal at Euro 2020 as Captain César Azpilicueta’s Spain take on Vice-captain Jorginho’s (and Emerson’s) Italy. All three players are expected to start, following Italy left back Leonardo Spinazzola’s injury, but it’s Jorginho who could be one of the biggest keys to the game.
The Chelsea man has had himself a rather excellent tournament thus far as the nearly faultless metronome at the heart of Italy’s midfield — though that description would undersell his also excellent defensive contributions, which have him right near the top of the defensive actions charts. Jorginho often divides opinion, but he’s received nearly universal plaudits, and has even entered the Ballon d’Or conversation.
Jorginho has 21 Tackles + Interceptions at the Euro’s so far, only Kante has more. Jorginho also has completed 371 passes with a 95% completion rate. World Class. pic.twitter.com/cfHNl1RSVL— J5 ⭐️⭐️ (@ChelseaJF5) July 3, 2021
One player who certainly needs no convincing of Jorginho’s qualities is Azpilicueta, who’s warned his Spain colleagues that they will have to stop him first if they want to advance to the final.
“It will be nice to meet him again on the pitch. That’s why football is great, now we are going to give the best for our national teams.
“Jorginho has proved to be a crucial player for Italy. He has important qualities, he likes to keep the ball in his feet and control the game. If we limit his involvement, we’ll have more chances to qualify for the Final.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Sky Italia via Football Italia
One surefire way to stop or at least limit players like Jorginho (or, say, Andrea Pirlo back in the day), is to stick a man on them and not give them space to operate, though that might not fit in too well with Spain’s usual possession-based strategy.