Spain’s dominance in European football began and ended with Italy, so their hopes were dashed when they faced Roberto Mancini in the Euro 2020 semifinals on Tuesday, who are on their way to release.
This is not the case with coach Luis Enrique, who lost in the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup and broke his nose at the hands of rival Mauro Tasotti.
The Spaniards won the penalty shootout after their goal-scoring draw in the toughest game of their first international trophy in 44 years, reminiscent of their 2006 quarter-finals.
They reunited in the Euro 2012 final in the best performance of that glorious four-year span in Spain, winning 4-0 in a performance so influential captain Iker Casillas requested the referee to blow his whistle and put Italy in their predicament.
But the Italians will take their revenge four years later in the last 16 when Antonio Conte’s side won 2-0 at the Stade de France to end Spain’s long dominance.
However, that victory did not trigger a resurgence, and Italy lost 3-0 to Spain in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, leaving them out of the biggest event in international football for the first time since 1958.
This prompted a deep identity crisis that led them to hire Roberto Monsini.
Supervising a bit of flashy football and creating a real feeling of every kay as they celebrate every win as if they have won a trophy, Mansini has got the country back in love with the national team.
This feeling of solidarity is evident in the pitch, with Gladiators defending themselves in tribute to the 2-1 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals and Flanders defender Leonardo Spinazzola, who tore down Achilles’ tender and was sent off.
Spain’s path to the semifinals has been much smoother, with weak draws against Sweden and Poland leading to a 5-0 win over Slovakia and a 5-3 win over Croatia in extra time.
Their quarter-final success against Switzerland on penalties was less thrilling but featured a shotout win against Italy 13 years ago and highlighted the spirit of the team and Luis Enrique spoke throughout his entire tournament.
“From day one we were confident that we were a strong and united group and we were good enough and we proved it,” said forward Mikel Werzabal ahead of the Wembley semifinals.
Italy is a top-tier team of players who continue to perform at the highest level with their clubs, but we are no less than them?