Spain 1-0 Italy (Jun 20, 2024) Game Analysis

Spain outclassed defending champions Italy and booked a place in the knockout stages of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 win on Thursday that was settled by Riccardo Calafiori‘s own goal and could have ended in a much bigger victory for Luis de la Fuente’s side.

La Roja, seeking revenge for their elimination from Euro 2020 by the Italians, put the Azzurri on the back foot from the kickoff, driving forward at every opportunity through irrepressible young wingers Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

“I’m very happy. The game went well for us,” Williams said after the match. “The team worked like animals. We showed [in first group game] against Croatia that we wanted to do something big. We knew it was going to be very difficult. Italy are a great team. We were able to take our chances.”

Pedri‘s second-minute header from a Williams cross was tipped over by Gianluigi Donnarumma and eight minutes later Williams flashed a header wide, setting the tone for the match as Spain pinned Italy in their half.

Italy’s usually rock-steady defence was unable to stop a dominant Spain and Donnarumma had to stretch his long frame to tip over a 30-metre rocket from Fabián Ruiz in the 25th minute.

Spain players celebrate after taking the lead against Italy in their Euro 2024 match.
Spain players celebrate after taking the lead against Italy in their Euro 2024 match.

The first Italian attempt did not come until first-half stoppage time and the pressure on coach Luciano Spalletti’s team resumed immediately after the interval.

The deadlock was broken in the 55th minute when Williams fired in a cross from the left which glanced off Álvaro Morata‘s head and Donnarumma’s outstretched glove before hitting Calafiori on the knee and going in.

Spain poured forward again with Yamal flashing a shot just wide before Williams curled another effort on to the bar.

“When we had three to four fresher players we managed to stay more intense, retrieved more high balls and created situations that could have led us to draw the match,” said Italy manager Luciano Spalletti. “But they were much stronger than us and won deservedly.”

Spain will finish top of Group B regardless of the outcome of their last match in the opening phase against Albania on Monday, and will play a third-placed side from another group in the round of 16.

Italy must avoid defeat in their last group game against Croatia to guarantee qualification.