Spains’ Dominant Victory over Italy with Calafiori Own Goal in Euro 2024, Advances to Knockouts

Spain proved their mettle by defeating Italy 3-0, in a battle of two giants, thanks to a regrettable own goal by Riccardo Calafiori. Here’s a thorough analysis of the game, the players’ responses, and the future plans for these dominant teams.

Following their 1-0 loss, Italy must now beat Croatia in order to advance.

Spains’ Dominant Victory over Italy with Calafiori Own Goal in Euro 2024, Advances to Knockouts
Alvaro Morata and Lamine Yamal (left) celebrate Spain's score. @Sky Sports

This was a highly regarded encounter between two winning teams from the World Cup and the European Championship; Catenaccio of Italy and Tiki-taka of Spain were two teams who, in their respective eras, revolutionized the way the game is played worldwide.

In recent years, matches between Spain and Italy have been close contests. Both teams are trying to return to their glory days, but based on what happened on Thursday, it seems like the Spaniards have advanced more.

The Italians recognized that going into the game.

“As of right now, Spain has more individual players than we have. Italy player Davide Frattesi stated prior to the match, “We will have to put the Italian spirit into play; we will need to struggle together.”

And he said exactly the perfect thing. Spain was superior, but the Italians had difficulties. Although there was perseverance and spirit, luck ultimately triumphed over them all. In a sad turn of events, one of their own people brought down the Italians. That’s not to say it was an inside job; rather, that’s just how things worked out in the end.

Spain controlled from the first whistle as Italy attempted to respond. It was hardly surprising that Nico Williams started the move that resulted in the goal because he was a menace down the flanks and dominated the one-on-ones.

Alvaro Morata flicked on his cross, and Gianluigi Donnarumma could only reach the header with his fingertips. Riccardo Calafiori, who had appeared to be preparing to pursue the loose ball, then deflected the ball back into goal. Own goal, the top scorer in Euro 2024, had added another to his account, and it turned out to be the deciding factor between the heavyweights.

The other unlucky players to score own goals are Klaus Gjasula of Albania, Maximilian Wober of Austria, Robin Hranac of the Czech Republic, and Antonio Rudiger of Germany. With just 18 games played thus far, these five have already achieved a record of 11, and that record may be threatened in Euro 2020.

However, nobody who witnessed the match will argue that Spain wasn’t deserving of the lucky break. They played a style of football that appeals to fans because it has pace, purpose, and—above all—no mere holding of the ball.

They dominated the primary statistics, taking more shots (12 to 3), had more possession (57%), and more shots on goal (8 to 1). The actual test of superiority, however, is not the numbers but rather the way the game is played. While the other team was only reacting, one team was always attacking.

Also Read: Top 5 UEFA Euro Matches of All Time: The Greatest Spectacles

Spains’ Dominant Victory over Italy with Calafiori Own Goal in Euro 2024, Advances to Knockouts
Nicolo Barella of Italy challenges Spain's Pedri, on the left. @Sky Sports

“We had our best performance since I took over as coach,” Luis de la Fuente, the Spain coach, remarked. In the [2022/23] Nations League, we performed admirably against Italy, but this, in my opinion, was a more comprehensive effort. It’s a very difficult tournament, but I’m really proud of the outcome and the manner we won this game. In every way, we were better. Italy had some issues tonight, but part of that is because we played so well. I have the utmost respect for them.”

The defending champs deserve praise for their effort. They ran themselves into the ground and placed their bodies on the lines, but they appeared to be caught up in Spain’s pace far too frequently, just attempting to fill the holes. In a previous game on Thursday, Denmark had demonstrated proficiency in this area against England, while the Italians consistently appeared to be out of shape.

“Too many gaps were present throughout the field,” stated Italy’s coach Luciano Spalletti. We were always overworked and unable to close the gaps between the different units, which allowed them to cause us issues. Let’s not mince words: they gave us more trouble than the score indicates.”

La Fuente, the manager of Spain, had referred to the match as a “European Clasico” in the lead-up, and his players definitely raised the ante. And Donnarumma’s genius in the Italian goal was largely responsible for their lack of additional goals. But no keeper enjoys a hectic match.

After the game, Donnarumma remarked, “To be honest, I don’t care about my saves—I was hoping for a different result and a different performance.” “We performed too poorly and missed too many easy passes; when you miss that much, they punish you.”

Spain has now defeated Italy three times in a row and has won the previous six meetings between the two teams (W4, D2). And the Azzurri would love to change this statistic.

However, Italy will want to concentrate on the task at hand right now. Gritty Croatia stands in their way of a spot in the Round of 16, and it is never an easy feat. Conversely, Spain will want to exploit this win to bolster their spirits and advance even farther.

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