Italian coach Antonio Conte masterminded the downfall of reigning champions Spain guiding his side into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Italy controlled the play, with the ball and without the ball, as they ended a sustained period of Spanish dominance in the European Championship.
Conte’s side proved to be well disciplined in defence, getting numbers behind the ball and maintaining their positioning to excellence as they timed their pressing on the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and David Silva to perfection.
It was a combination of clinical finishing and defending as if their lives depended on it.
According to SASoccermag’s Opta-powered match centre, Italy won 12 tackles and made 20 clearances compared to Spain’s 11 and 13. Overall Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci were far superior on the day to Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, the Spanish duo turning in arguably one of their worst ever performances.
Italy finished the match with 40% possession but that number was made to look worse by Spain sitting on the ball for the majority of the final 20 minutes.
Vicente Del Bosque’s side struggled to get their fluid passing game into action as Italy made 19 interceptions, consistently breaking down attacking play with little service reaching Alvaro Morata and Nolito up front.
Spain were forced into 8 shots from outside the box and just 6 inside as the Italian defence made it difficult for clear cut chances on goal.
In turn, Italy ran rampant on attack and had 8 attempts inside Spain’s box and just 3 outside it as David De Gea kept the scoreline to just one for the majority of match before Graziano Pelle’s last minute volley.
The win sees Italy set up a last 8 clash against Germany as Europe seeks a new champion after Conte’s tactical masterpiece in Paris.