Tuesday, June 25, 2024

New Spain and Old Italy

Before the tournament Spain did not look like the big favourites, but they certainly do now. Under the leadership of the hapless Luis Enrique Spain had not impressed, but the former youth manager, Luis de La Fuente, has forged a splendid side based on the immense talent base in Spain. Lamine Yamal, only 16 years old, is only one example, but other players that have come forward include Nico Williams, Pedri, Fermin Lopez, as well as players whose talent was wasted during Luis Enrique, such as Dani Olmo and Marc Cucurella. And frankly, older experienced players are there too.

Spain last night defeated Albania 0-1 with ten substitutions. They have won the group with maximum points and a score of 5-0, and are looking like the team to beat in the tournament.

It seems we have a new super Spain in the making, more direct that the old Tiki-Taka side.

Croatia and Spain were playing their everything to follow Spain through. Croatia had to win, while a tie would be sufficient for Italy to defend the title they won in 2021. As would be expected it was a match full of drama. In the second half the veteran superstar Luka Modric brought Croatia ahead after having missed a penalty, and a lot of relief to a Croatia side that nevertheless drew back to defend. Italy understandably pushed forward, but we had to move to the 97th minute, the last kick of the match, before the Lazio winger Mattia Zaccagni brought relief to Italy and deep heartbreak to Croatia. 

1-1 and Italy are through to continue defending their title, like in the old days, while Croatia are out, and are probably looking at a farewell to the veterans that have done so much for Croatia over the years, most notably the Great Luka Modric.

Thank you.

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