The BBC Switched Off Alvaro Morata
One of the main questions coming into the game was just how Spain’s Alvaro Morata – the man trusted to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Fernando Torres and David Villa at this tournament – would fare when up against Italy’s ‘BBC’ back-line, all of whom he’d have faced every day in training at Juventus for the past two seasons.
In the event, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini – all of whom came into the match a booking away from missing the quarter-finals – handled the young forward superbly.
Morata was barely involved in the match in the first half, acting as interested spectator as the Italians dominated and took the lead through one of his captors at the back.
When the Spanish upped it in the second half then he admirably started showing for the ball, but his shocking miss when presented with a glorious chance in front of goal seemingly summed up his evening.
A fair amount of work is required before he will be trusted to lead the Spanish attack in future tournaments.
Tournament Conclusions Are Facile, But Antonio Conte Will Change Chelsea
Remember when Louis van Gaal replaced Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul at the last World Cup and Manchester United fans’ went into a collective state of ecstasy?
Drawing conclusions from tournaments is just as risky when it concerns managers as it is for players, and so claiming that everything in the Chelsea garden will suddenly be rosy once Antonio Conte arrives should be guarded against, but you can see the type of ethics that he’ll look to instil.
Conte’s Italy played energetic, pressing football here, closing down their opponents in the first half and never allowing their better players time and space on the ball.
They worked hard for each other, something that could never be said about Chelsea last season, and if Conte is given the time and space that he needs – something of a rare occurrence at Stamford Bridge – and Chelsea can marry these qualities with the talent that they have, then a return to the summit of the English game could well be in the offing.
Spain Aren’t Finished, But Their Reliance On The Older Generation Needs To End
Four years ago, a Spanish team containing Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas hammered Italy 4-0 to win the Euro 2012 final. Four years on, and with all three playing deeper, that never looked to be possible here.
The trio weren’t terrible, and this isn’t an attempt at writing off Spain in the manner that many did after their disastrous World Cup, but it merely highlighted that the Spanish haven’t got round to evolving ever since their previous highs.
In a match such as this then it would surely have been preferable to turn to Atletico Madrid’s Koke, or even his clubmate Saul Niguez who wasn’t in the squad, instead of the repeated favouritism enjoyed by the likes of Fabregas, who was too slow to get around midfield and found himself dominated by the tigerish Daniele De Rossi and Marco Parolo.
If, as expected, Vicente Del Bosque is now to depart, then the status of some of the ‘undroppables’ is bound to go with him.
Graziano Pelle Might Be The ‘Next Great Italian Striker’
When Luca Toni retired from football at the end of the season just gone, the Italian media lamented the loss of a man they dubbed ‘the last great Italian striker.’
The World Cup winner was never to everyone’s taste, but this billing was also used to shine a light on the dearth of quality forwards in the Italian game today, with none really registering on the radars of the top clubs.
Graziano Pelle probably won’t be a transfer target for Barcelona any time soon, but he is doing a fine job for this Azzurri team right now, leading the line and bringing the likes of Eder and Emanuele Giachcherini into play with his strength and power.
The next great Italian striker? Probably not. But potentially a Euro 2016 winner.
Read More From Mark Jones