sâmbătă, 3 iulie 2021

Euro 2021 - Soft spot kick

Switzerland - Spain 1-1 (3-1 penalties)
Italy - Belgium 2-1

Travel day for me yesterday, so I've only seen the second half of Switzerland - Spain. My understanding is I haven't missed much. 

When I saw Spain is up at halftime, and how the second half started, I kind of expected Switzerland to score. They are a forward-thinking team and have proved they are not phased by the opposition and can come back from behind. It fell to Shaqiri to pull level, not the best of goals but then Spain's wasn't much of a looker either. 

The Swiss red card was incredibly soft, and IMHO irresponsible refereeing from Michael Oliver. Down to 10 men, it was clear that the Swiss are gonna close the game and wait for the penalties, especially with Sommer's confidence being boosted by a few decent saves. And Spain is not much of a scoring threat either. Only problem is, when you get to penalties, you have to actually score them. This must've not been on the memo for the Swiss. Although, honestly, after the never-ending shoot-out in the Europa League final and that thriller in the previous round, with only Mbappe missing, it was somewhat comforting to see a penalty shoot-out solved before the completion of the 10 shots.

3-1 for Spain on penalties and somehow, despite playing quite poorly, Luis Enrique's team squeezed through to the semifinals. I do get the feeling Italy will be a different proposition though.

Get Insigne with it
Speaking of, Belgium - Italy was a great game of football. 1-2, but the score doesn't reflect how dominant Italy was. Unlucky to be just offside for the first goal, very soft penalty for Belgium to score one, and the Azzurri taking the tempo down a notch in the second half, maybe just to have a go at this 'closing the game down' thingy. Word is, Italians were decent at it back in the day.

What I don't remember about the great Italian teams of the past is playing this game so beautifully. Not only positive, with people in front of the ball and building attacks, but also - incredibly - with a permanent smile on their lips. Go back and watch Chiellini in the game yesterday. Dude's got a large smile on his face all the time, making jokes with teammates and opponents alike, hugging Witsel like it's a charity game. Donnarumma is making jokes in the closing minutes with one-goal advantage.

I don't know how Maldini did it, but he created a team that is not reminiscent of previous Italian teams, but rather, of the Brazil teams of the 90s, minus the stars. Italians might've known how good the likes of Insigne or Veratti are, but the world had no idea. Look at Barella's first goal: scooping the ball from between 3 defenders, then cooly throwing it in the opposite corner. Lukaku has never done anything like that in his career. And he's rated a tad better than the Italian.

Insigne's goal was another beauty, but you get the feeling he didn't even mean it; it came out of pure swagger. I almost don't want the Euros to end now, I'd like to watch this Italian team a bit more please.

Also, how long until it's clear that Federico Chiesa is a better footballer than Enrico?

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