It’s Chelsea captain versus Chelsea vice-captain (and also Emerson) as Spain meet Italy in the first semifinal of Euro 2020 tonight at Wembley — a repeat of the Euro 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0 (Fernando Torres and Juan Mata both scored).
This time the Azzurri come in riding a rather impressive 32-match unbeaten streak and are probably the slight favorites over a bit more inconsistent Spain, who needed extra time in each of the previous two knockout rounds and even penalties against Switzerland in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Italy rolled against world number-one Belgium, though also needed bonus football to vanquish a pesky Austria side in the Round of 16.
Chelsea vice-captain Jorginho has been a key figure in the heart of Italy’s midfield and has played so well that it is he, rather than (the long-eliminated) N’Golo Kanté, who’s getting most of the Ballon d’Or chatter. Lesser-spotted Chelsea left back Emerson should get a start as well, in place of the injured Leonardo Spinazzola who tore his Achilles tendon in the previous game.
For Spain, César Azpilicueta didn’t start a game until the last group stage match, but has started all three since, with Spain winning all three, and even scoring 11 goals in the process (including 5 each against Slovakia and Croatia — Azpi himself getting in on on the fun in the latter).
Should be a good one. (Hopefully.)
ITALY vs. SPAIN
Date / Time: Tuesday, July 6, 2021, 20.00 BST; 3pm EDT
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
On TV: BBC One (UK); ESPN, Univision, TUDN (USA); elsewhere
Streaming online: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+, Univision Now (USA)