Stade de France, St. Denis: The stadium that brought the giants of European football to their knees
By Ruairi Daly
It was a hugely significant result for Italy, who registered their first competitive victory over Spain since the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup in the USA. Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque admits his days are numbered
After 2,920 days, Spain’s reign as European champions came to a humbling end at the hands of Italy. From the outset there only looked to be one outcome in a game that signalled the end of a glorious era of national team dominance. Tactically it was the simplest of adjustments by Antonio Conte to press the ball high up the field, and it was expertly executed.
It was a hugely significant result for Italy, who registered their first competitive victory over Spain since the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup in the USA. Squadra Azzurra also avenged the crushing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Spain in the same competition four years prior.
Once again the fault lay with Sergio Ramos and to some extent David De Gea. However the latter made three goal-denying saves – two in the opening 20 minutes – to prevent it being a cricket score. Ramos’ clumsy foul led to Giorgio Chiellini scoring from two-yards, after De Gea parried the ball away. The lack of willingness from the Spanish players to get back to clear the ball also played a part in the opening goal.
For all the praise Alvaro Morata has received for his performances in big games for Juventus this season, he was non-existent in the game for Spain. Managing just two touches inside the Italian box in 70 minutes, his performance epitomised the overall team performance.
Cesc Fàbregas was a non-entity in the Spanish midfield, which is getting to be habitual with him. His performance was summed up by his embarrassing fall to the floor clutching his face, after being struck in the chest.
In the dugout, things weren’t much better. With Spain trailing 1-0 at half-time, Vicente Del Bosque opted to bring on 35-year-old Aritz Aduriz, a sure sign the team and staff needs shaking up.
When chances presented themselves, Gianluigi Buffon was on hand to bring them a step closer to their first major honours in 10 years, and their first European Championship since 1968. In their way will be Germany and, should they progress, the tournament’s favourite and host, France, is likely to stand in their way of going one step further than they managed in 2000 and 2012.
Spain will now dust themselves down and return home to watch the remainder of the matches from the sofa. As for the footballing federation, the process of looking for a new manager ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualification should now begin, with Del Bosque admitting his days in charge are numbered.
Featured image by Andrea Anastasakis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ferbent/), CC BY SA 2.0 Generic
Vicente Del Busque by Steindy (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Steindy), CC By-Sa 3.0 Unported
Gianluigi Buffon during the UEFA Champions League 2013-14 by Laura Hale, cropped and retouched by Danyele, (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:LauraHale ), Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Real Madrid CF vs Juventus FC (2-1), CC BY SA 3.0
Born in Newry, Ireland, Ruairi Daly is doing Sports Journalism at Staffordshire University in England. He is a freelance journalist who hopes to go full time once he’s finished university. Ruairi runs his own website called ReadCeltic which focuses on news and matches related to the Scottish based football club. He loves to travel and get to know the many cultures around the world. He’s having the time of his life immersed in the Spanish culture while he works with Guidepost.
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