From the moment tenor Andrea Bocelli cleared the field at Stadio Olimpico after his stirring rendition of “Nessun Dorma” at the opening ceremony, making way for the start of the tournament, the Italians have been right on the money. Three impressive wins in the group stage, without conceding. A gutsy victory over a better-than-expected Austria in the round of 16. The elimination of top-ranked Belgium in the quarterfinals. Maybe Luis Enrique isn’t aware, but Italy is rolling at the moment. This might be a match between teams who have almost forgotten what it feels like to lose — Spain has only one defeat in its last 29 games — but Italy looks to have the edge, at both ends of the field.
” But to some it was another classic example of gamesmanship. It’s why players like Champions League winners Cesar Azpilicueta, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba will be so important for Spain to guide the team’s younger players at Wembley. “We’re not an experienced team, ” Luis Enrique said, “but it doesn’t mean we don’t have experience of the game. Many of our players have played at a very high level and are used to these games. “I just hope we’re up to the challenge. ”Spain, Italy take unbeaten runs into Euro 2020 semifinalsBy STEVE DOUGLAS AP Sports WriterLONDON (AP) — Luis Enrique thought for a couple of seconds, looked straight back at the questioner, and gave the curtest of replies.
“No, ” said the Spain coach, with the blankest of looks on his face, after being asked if he had seen a better team than his at the European Championship. An answer out of blind loyalty? Perhaps. Or was it the fact that Spain is the leading scorer at Euro 2020? Maybe. Or the fact that La Roja is on an unbeaten streak stretching back to October, a run of 13 games? Quite possibly. Spain’s opponent in the European Championship semifinals on Tuesday might have something to say about all that. Italy, another of the continent’s traditional powers, brings an even better run of form to Wembley Stadium — a national-record 32 matches unbeaten, going all the way back to September 2018.
“We’ve spoken a few times since but that’s in the past, part of footballing history, ” Luis Enrique said Monday about the incident with Tassotti. “Both of us, of course, would’ve preferred that had gone differently but there’s nothing more to say. ”Actually, Luis Enrique doesn’t appear to hold any grudges toward the Azzurri, his feelings possibly changing after spending a year coaching Italian club Roma in the 2011-12 season.
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Yet Spain’s title defense was ended in the last 16 five years ago by a limited but tactically superior Italy coached by Antonio Conte, which won 2-0 in Paris. The teams, then, will be meeting in a fourth straight tournament. This match promises to be different, though, purely because of the way Italy’s approach has altered since Roberto Mancini took over as coach in 2018. Sure, the trademark Italian robustness in defense is still there, but the team has an attacking swagger these days and also has become more of a passing team. They’re not in Spain’s league in terms of possession, but then again who is? “We’re leaders in the possession stats, but they too are a side who enjoy playing with the ball.
So that’s going to be the first battle to win, ” Luis Enrique said. “But they’re also very good without the ball. We need the ball. We want to have it. ”Spain has the squad with youngest average age in the tournament — at 24. 1 years — and there’s a sense that Luis Enrique feels his players have exceeded expectations by reaching the semifinals. It’s why he was so proud of getting past Switzerland in the quarterfinals, albeit with the need of a penalty shootout.
If you don’t have cable, you can watch the match by signing up for fuboTV or Sling. Spain (2020 UEFA European Championship Quarterfinals)Start time: 3 p. m. ESTTV channel: ESPN (Channel finder: Verizon Fios, AT&T U-verse, Comcast, Xfinity, Spectrum/Charter, Optimum/Altice, DIRECTV, Dish, Hulu, fuboTV, Sling. )Live stream: WatchESPN | fuboTV | Sling | If you don’t have cable, you can sign up for fuboTV and Sling to watch online.
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