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It is one of the great classics of world football. On 37 occasions, Spain and Italy have faced each other in their history, for 11 wins each and 15 draws. A perfectly balanced balance sheet but rivalries very often arise from tense sporting and even political contexts, and therefore from official competitions. And in this little game, it is the Nazionale who is doing the best, since in 9 Euro and World Cup matches combined, they have won 4 times, for 4 draws and one defeat. It all began in 1934, in an environment where the fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini organized the second World Cup in history. In the quarterfinals, the tournament favorite challenges La Roja in Florence. It is a butcher’s shop, like a competition that is far too belligerent.
No less than 11 players (7 Spaniards and 4 Italians) will come out injured, including goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora (hence the eponymous trophy awarded to the best goalkeeper in Liga), touched in the eyes on the equalizer, and who will not be able to resume his place the next day. Because the meeting ends with a score of 1-1, but overtime and penalties do not yet exist. The match must be replayed, which will be done 24 hours later in the same stadium and with the same violence on the pitch. Under the indulgence (benevolence?) Of the referees, Italy won 1-0 this time and lifted their first World Cup a few days later.
Injustice Luis Enrique
After these first two acts, it takes 46 years for the two nations to meet again. La Squadra and La Roja parted in a tasteless 0-0 draw during a Euro 80 organized in Italy. The two teams will not shine there, while the band in Dino Zoff will be crowned world champion two years later … in Spain. In 1988, it was the Mancini-Vialli tandem, the current coach and head of delegation, who defeated Zubizarreta for a 1-0 success. Spain will not come out of the pools and Italy will lose against the USSR in the semi-final. In 1994, the rivalry was truly reborn. In the quarterfinals of the World Cup in the United States, two of the favorites meet for a meeting that will go down in history. They surrender blow for blow, Caminero responding in the second half to the goal of Dino Baggio. La Roja has the wind at his back, dominates the meeting. Salinas misses a huge opportunity, Hierro warms the gloves of Pagliuca but the other Baggio, Roberto, the reigning Ballon d’Or, crucifies Spain in the 88th (2-1).
The story could have ended there but in added time, Luis Enrique blew his nose off Tassotti’s elbow in the middle of the penalty area. Despite the tears, pain and anger of the current coach, Sandor Pulh (who died last May), then considered the best referee in the world, does not flinch and does not award a penalty. Height of injustice, he even asks the victim, the jersey completely speckled with blood, to return to the edge of the field, noting that his bleeding was starting again. The Real midfielder will not have time to return to the pitch. “Luis Enrique wanted to kill the referee and Tassotti”, will report later the physiotherapist of La Roja. Appraisal: fracture of the nasal septum for the Spaniard, whose face in blood has been around the world. The FIFA disciplinary committee will still impose 8 suspension matches on Tassotti, who will never wear the Azzurro jersey again, and will therefore not play the final lost to Brazil and led by … Sandor Puhl.
Italy attends the coronation of Spain
Change of century and cycle. The time of losing Spain is now over. At Euro 2008, the reigning world champion Nazionale faces the rise of La Roja in the quarterfinals. The latter clearly dominates the meeting even if Casillas must save the furniture in front of Camoranesi. Then comes the fateful shootout and already the ghosts of Spain resurface. She is cursed in this drill and will never break the quarter glass ceiling again. However, Casillas diverts the attempts of De Rossi and Di Natale and the young Fabregas (21) sends his selection (0-0, 4-2 at the tabs) to the European coronation a week later. The Iberian domination has only just begun.
And it continues 4 years later since it is a Spain on the roof of the world and of Europe which defeats Italy in the final of Euro 2012, after having drawn in the group stage (1-1) . Despite a scare in the semi-final against Portugal (victory on penalties), La Roja is confident of his strength against a resurgent Squadra Azzurra after a failed World Cup. To everyone’s surprise, it has just beaten Germany thanks to a great Balotelli (2-1) and has everything a conquering outsider. It will not be. This final turns to the Spanish demonstration 4-0 thanks to David Silva, Alba, Torres and Mata, well helped by an Italy deploring the outings on injury of Chiellini after 20 minutes, then of Motta on the hour of play, which came all just come in. Prandelli having already made his three changes, the Nazionale played his last half hour in a shorthand.
Chiellini is in all the duels
The two countries never leave each other. In the round of 16 of Euro 2016 in France, it is this time Italy which defeats Spain 2-0. On paper, however, the reigning European champion still has some elements of his golden generation (Piqué, Ramos, Iniesta, Busquets), but it has not completely turned the page after the resounding failure of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. The Squadra does not impress either, but led by a supercharged Antonio Conte, it has an extra soul that makes the usual shine. gregarious like Giaccherini, Parolo, De Sciglio, Eder and Pellè. It is also the latter who scored the winning goal in stoppage time, validating the opening goal signed Chiellini in the first period.
The defender of Juventus, now captain and resplendent at 37, will still be there this Tuesday evening in an unexpected semi-final of Euro 2020 (to follow live commented on our site). With six of his partners (Bonucci, Florenzi, Sirigu, Bernardeschi, Insigne and Immobile), they were already there at the Stade de France 5 years ago but better still, Chiellini will be the only player to have played these 4 duels against the Spain on these last 4 Euro. A longevity at an exceptional high level, especially since it has another revenge to take on La Roja. In qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Italy finished second in their group, behind Spain, forcing them to go through a play-off that proved tricky against Sweden. For the first time since 1958, the Squadra had missed a World Cup, in part because of one of its best enemies. Like what, the meetings between the two countries are never trivial.