Italy v Spain - International Friendly

Master tactician, Antonio Conte successfully showed his class by orchestrating Spain’s defeat in what was an exciting encounter. The Azzurri finally found a way to get past Spain since 1994 and after 2 top losses in recent times. A 4 – 0 thrashing at the last Euros finals, and a quarter final exit from the 2013 confederations cup. With Germany up next, Italy face a tough task in their mission to get to the finals, but having gotten past Spain, they can put any side to the sword. Here are 5 talking points from the 2 – 0 defeat of La Roja.

FABREGAS IS PAST HIS PEAK

Cesc Fabregas hasn’t been able to reproduce his brilliant form for a while now, and that has been a disadvantage to both his club and country. The inclusion of the 29-year-old midfielder in the starting lineup didn’t go down with many given his lack of pace, a weakness the Italians were definitely bound to take advantage of. And they did. Gone is the Arsenal Fabregas that was a constant threat with every touch and carved pass. It remains a doubt if he would fit into Conte’s plan at Chelsea next season.

BUFFON IS AGELESS

Spain continually threatened Italy’s goal, and although they had no clear-cut chance but Buffon’s many saves ensured Italy maintained the lead before Pelle’s injury time goal sealed the victory. At 38, the Juve veteran hasn’t shown a single sign of weakness or tiredness, and will definitely be in goal when they go to Russia for the 2018 World Cup.

ITALY’S BBC IS BETTER THAN SPAIN’S MSN

Italy’s defensive trio of Bonucci, Barzagli and Chilleini definitely is the best backline in the world, and they outshone Spain’s attacking trio of Morata, Silva and Nolito. Nolito was hardly in the game during the first half, and the introduction of Aduriz didn’t help matters either. Silva only saw few spaces to exploit upfront, while Morata couldn’t get a way past his former club mates. Chilleini on the other hand wasn’t only solid rock at the back, he helped put his side forward with a timely rebound after Degea spilled Eder’s shot of a freekick.

DEL BOSQUE’S TACTICS ARE OUTDATED

After Spain’s disappointing campaign at the 2014 World Cup, it was obvious Del Bosque’s team selection and tactics weren’t superb again. Winning their first 2 games hid the weakness, but it all got exposed against Croatia. It came to full glare against Italy. Opting not to bring Torres to France, starting Fabregas ahead of Koke, having no plan B style of play, it wasn’t just the same thing for the Spain chief at France, and it may be time to take a bow after a glorious career with the national team.

ITALY ARE CAPABLE OF WINNING THE EUROS

Not many gave them a chance prior to the start of the tournament, but emphatic victories over Belgium and Spain mean they can’t be ruled out of winning the Euros. The next game against Germany in the quarterfinals will definitely be a tougher test, and France will likely be the next hurdle if they scale through to the semis. If there is a team that can cross both successfully, it’s Italy. They are the team to beat.

Paul Koroma

I learned all about life with a ball at my feet. Soccer allows me to push the limitation of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train. I play, and I repeat every single day.

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