The Spanish team executed the sweetest revenge, ending Italy’s historical streak without defeat in their own home, conquering San Siro to settle outstanding accounts of the Eurocup with a double by Ferran Torres and a vindication of a footballing style that overcame everyone the conditions with which Luis Enrique faced the final four of the League of Nations.
Soccer owed one to Spain. He had it targeted since the non-award-winning exhibition at Wembley in the semifinals of the last European Championship. That penalty shootout left Luis Enrique’s group on the verge of glory when it most deserved it. Without key players in his scheme, he achieved what seemed impossible, to turn Italy into earthly on his field. He had never achieved it in an official match, 50 years ago in a friendly.
The streak of 37 games without Italian defeat was destroyed by Spain based on faith in a philosophy that is maintained despite the losses, overcoming everything and with Luis Enrique reinforced in decisions that generated a stir. Gavi, a starter at 17 years and 62 days, proved the coach right on the pitch. With an improper cheekiness of his age, he shone where it is less usual but where Italy demanded, in defensive tasks, without being daunted by anyone.
And in the absence of a pure 9, Luis Enrique’s true scorer, Ferran Torres, appeared with record numbers. His double enshrines him as a benchmark, 12 goals in 21 games show the importance of a footballer who left the band and ate the Italian centrals. Without Chiellini from the start to everyone’s surprise and with Bonucci as misguided with the ball as when measuring his game with yellow. On the brink of rest, he pulled out his elbow in a jump with Busquets and left his team on the edge of the precipice, seconds before conceding the second.
There is no duel that lowers the level between two teams like Spain and Italy, even less in San Siro, with recent chapters that mark a clash of greatness. Stars were missing on the pitch due to injuries but it did not matter for a brave approach, with Luis Enrique’s men taking over the kick-off ball again, sending, canceling the rival with a perfectly executed high pressure.
Although the first time was Italian, with a dry shot from Barella that he took out with a stretched Unai, nothing stopped Spain. Marcos Alonso turned the game to the left doing everything right. Each climb with discretion, passes into space, firm in defense and fast to stop counterattacks. From his vision the first was born, when Sarabia put her back but Oyarzabal ran into Bastoni.
Gavi demonstrated an improper job for his DNI, stopping the only action of a missing Chiesa who should be a reference but who appeared fallen on the wing and away from his area of influence. For her, in the other area, Ferran Torres appeared to finish off a great center from Oyarzabal. It was the 17th minute and the play was born, of course, by Marcos Alonso.
Wembley hero Donnarumma was nervous. Whistled by his own fans for his decision to leave Milan to play for PSG. Without rhythm of matches, his pulse trembled two minutes after the first goal, before a left-footed shot from Marcos Alonso that did not block and repelled the wood.
Italy, unable to rescue their football without overcoming the Spanish approach, had to take a step forward and run the risk of presenting the counterattack at the speed of Ferran. Their best moments were born of inaccuracies in the exit of the ball but between Unai and the post they avoided the equalizer of Bernardeschi and Insigne forgave what a forward should not, with everything to score with the defeated Spanish goalkeeper.
There was no time for doubt because Gavi reinstated respect in San Siro in a transition that Oyarzabal culminated with a low shot that Donnarumma took and the poor decision of Bonucci that cost him expulsion. The game faced Spain and dealt a definitive blow in the added time of the first act. Again the measured touch of Oyarzabal to Ferran’s head to put the signature to the second.
With the pass to the final in his pocket and waiting for a rival between France and Belgium, the meeting for Spain became avoiding the Italian harshness with an eye on the clock. But no matter the circumstances, the Italian character always ensures that he falls on his feet in the event of defeat. He raised the intensity to the limit that the referee allowed and Mancini’s changes increased the muscle, with Kean biting and increasing the verticality.
The premiere of Gavi was joined by Yeremy Pino, another breath of fresh air with plenty of quality in attack. He did everything right until a mistake in the closing of a corner kick that caused a two against one and the goal to Pellegrini’s pleasure with seven minutes remaining.
It was the punishment for the only defect that Spain had, the lack of forcefulness in the actions that Spain had to thrash. Oyarzabal had sent a gift from Yeremy to the side of the net and Donnarumma showed off a left-footed shot from Marcos Alonso who only lacked the goal that framed his great game.
With the San Siro stands resurrected, pushing their team to the end, Italy fought until the last second but Spain did not suffer and sealed their pass to the final. Nine years later, he has the opportunity to win a title again after executing a sweet revenge.