Spain 1-0 Italy: La Roja Outclass Azzurri To Secure EURO 2024 Round-of-16 Spot

Spain Beat Italy
Spain Beat Italy

Familiar foes Spain and Italy locked horns at a packed Veltins Arena on Matchday 2 of the 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024), knowing a win would see them move into the Round of 16 as Group B winners. Both teams had secured maximum points on Matchday 1, making it an even contest on paper. However, only one team brought their ‘A Game’ on Thursday night (June 21), and they deservedly walked away with all three points. Surprisingly, for all the chances they created, Spain could not find the back of the net by themselves, it was an own goal from Riccardo Calafiori that allowed them to claim the win.

Spain Run Circles Around Italy But Doubts Remain Over Their Finishing

Spain, who lost to Italy on penalties in the EURO 2020 semi-finals, were out for blood on Thursday. They immediately took the fight to the reigning European champions, creating a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity only three minutes in. Inaki Williams burst through the left flank and floated an inviting cross into the box. Pedri, who had made a superb run from midfield to occupy the middle of the box, headed it goalward, but his effort was straight at Gianluigi Donnarumma, allowing him to tip the ball over the bar. Eight minutes later, Williams squandered a great opportunity to draw first blood, failing to keep his header on target from only a few yards out.

Spain’s relentless pressure ultimately broke the Italian resistance in the 55th minute, as Alvaro Morata’s header took a deflection off Calafiori and nestled into the back of the net. In the 71st minute, Williams darted into the box from the left and went for goal with a powerful right-footed effort. Luckily for Donnarumma and Italy, the crossbar denied the left-winger his goal. Over the course of the night, Spain had 20 shots, nine of which were on target. However, none of those efforts were good enough to beat Donnarumma.

Spain showed the same lack of efficiency under Luis de la Fuente’s successor Luis Enrique, and we all know how that story played out. La Roja supporters will hope their team put their shooting boots on when they take to the field for their Round-of-16 clash on June 30.

Ecstatic Luis de la Fuente Claims La Roja Have No Limits

After making Spain the second team to book a place in the UEFA EURO 2024 Round of 16, coach De La Fuente sent a firm warning to other participants. He claimed Spain had the best roster and were a team without limits.

In a post-match press conference he said (via The Guardian):

In all areas we were superior to them. I would like us to appreciate how difficult it is to nullify a great team like Italy as we did today. That invites me to believe that we have a real chance to improve, but we will keep our feet on the floor. This opens a magnificent door and a magnificent horizon. There is a long way to go but we are on the path.

I will never tire of championing our national product: Spanish players, Spanish football. We are the best in my opinion. I would like there to be recognition for this generation of magnificent footballers. For me, they’re the best. The only thing I don’t know is where our ceiling is. I can’t see a limit at the moment.”

The two-time European champions will play their final Group B game — now a dead rubber — against Albania on Monday night (June 24).

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