Tag Archives: Marco Verratti

Italy vs Spain – Euro 2020 semi-finals prediction

The European Championships has it’s final four participants and they have set up two huge semi-final clashes at Wembley Stadium.

Italy, Spain, England and Denmark have seen off competition from 20 other teams to make it to this stage of the tournament and now must go head-to-head to make it to the final on Sunday night.

First up is Italy vs Spain on Tuesday night and here’s everything you need to know about the fixture and then my prediction to go with it.

Last time out:

The quarter-final stage threw up some truly brilliant games of football, filled with high drama and quality across the board.

Italy took on world number one ranked Belgium in their last eight clash and came out on top in a highly entertaining encounter. Roberto Mancini’s side played fast-paced, intense pressing football and were able to keep the ball for much of the game.

Unai Simon and Mikel Oyarzabal of Spain celebrating during the European championship EURO 2020 between Switzerland and Spain at Gazprom Arena. .

They scored two finely worked goals and other than a slightly late challenge that allowed Romelu Lukaku to score a penalty, they were imperious defensively in their traditional way to earn a 2-1 win inside 90 minutes.

Spain on the other hand found themselves up against Switzerland and while they dominated the ball for large portions of the game they once again struggled to turn chances into goals.

They took the lead early on through Denis Zakaria’s own goal and while they missed several chances again, it allowed the Swiss to get back into the game following an error from Pau Torres for Xherdan Shaqiri to slot home.

The game was open and back and forth from that point on which led to a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of action, which they came out on top of 3-2 after five penalties each.

Team news:

Italy unfortunately lost their player of the tournament so far in Leonardo Spinazzola against Belgium when he suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in the second half, ruling him out for the rest of 2021.

Leonardo Spinazzola of Italy is carried off on a stretcher during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at...

His absence means we should see the arrival of Emerson Palmieri of Chelsea into the starting lineup at left-back, meaning a natural left-footer and just as much attacking impetus. Marco Verratti’s form since returning from injury has been excellent so he should continue to start ahead of Manuel Locatelli while Federico Chiesa is likely to keep his place out wide ahead of Domenico Berardi.

Spain on the other hand have no new injury worries ahead of the semi-final clash, but they are likely to make changes after being taken to extra-time in both of their knockout ties so far.

The midfield three of Sergio Busquets, Koke and Pedri will likely remain intact but Eric Garcia could return to centre-back ahead of Pau Torres while Jose Gaya could take the place of Jordi Alba, although that is less likely.

In attack however Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres are pushing for starts ahead of Pablo Sarabia and Gerard Moreno, while Adama Traore and Mikel Oyarzabal are yet to start any games at this tournament.

Predicted lineups:

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Jorginho, Barella, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne

Spain: Simon; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Garcia, Alba; Busquets, Koke, Pedri; Torres, Morata, Olmo


This game is set up to be absolutely brilliant. Two teams who work relentlessly when out of possession to win it back and look to dominate the ball.

Players of Italy celebrate at the end of the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at Football Arena Munich on...

Normally you’d expect a battle for ball possession to be won by the Spanish, but this Italy squad is incredibly gifted on the ball and for my money they’re more likely to have the edge there. They’re also better defensively by a country mile, but the pace and energy of the Spanish side could cause them some issues.

Overall though, this is Italy’s tie (and tournament) to lose. They’re the better team overall, playing the better football currently and will have fitness and momentum on their side to reach the final.

Italy 2-1 Spain


Brazil Greatest XI vs Italy Greatest XI

When you think football, you almost certainly will think of the Brazilian national team and it’s glittering history.

The famous yellow shirts are linked heavily with some of the greatest attacking players in the history of football, while defensively they’ve probably never been blessed with the best options. They’ve had a few stand outs but nothing like when you look at the history of the Italian side.

Arguably the greatest defensive nation in footballing history, Italy have had some of the best defenders in history prior to my lifetime including the likes of Franco Baresi. So what happens if you pit the best attack against the best defence over the most recent generations?

Much like in the ‘France vs Holland Fantasy Match‘, several top players have missed out on the lineups simply because I can’t pick more than 11 players. The likes of Rivaldo, Christian Vieri, Giorgio Chiellini, Gilberto Silva, Cafu, Marcelo and Gennaro Gattuso have been left out either because I believe these are better or I’m trying to get more of a balance of past and present.

Football. 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals. Semi Final. Saitama, Japan. 26th June 2002. Brazil 1 v Turkey 0. Members of the Brazil team are pictured with mascots as they sing their anthem prior to the match. L-R: Rivaldo and Cafu (captain). Credit: POPPERFOTO/J : News Photo

In goal, Italy’s choice was obvious. Gianluigi Buffon is likely to go down as one of the best goalkeepers ever and up until recently is the only Italy number one I’ve know. For Brazil, I’ve given Alisson the nod over two legends in Dida and Claudio Taffarel. The Liverpool man is arguably the best of the lot with his feet and is comfortable sweeping up behind a top heavy team, so he fits in well here.

At full-back, Brazil have arguably had the two best pairs of right and left backs of my lifetime with Cafu and Roberto Carlos as well as Dani Alves and Marcelo. I’ve decided to split the difference with this and take on from each era, with Dani Alves and Roberto Carlos taking the spots here.

Footballer Ronaldo in Action Against Italy : News Photo

For Italy, their full-backs pick themselves. Paolo Maldini is recognised as one of the best defenders the world has ever seen and while he could play at centre-back, he often was used as a left-back for the national team due to the plethora of top central defenders they possessed. As for right-back, Gianluca Zambrotta is comfortably the best Italian I’ve ever seen in that position and that makes his inclusion easy enough.

At centre-back Italy’s pairing is arguably unfair. Alessandro Nesta is the best defender I’ve ever seen in my opinion while Fabio Cannavaro is the last defender to win the Ballon D’Or following Italy’s World Cup win in 2006. A combination of speed, strength, intelligence, aerial ability and leadership they would be a nightmare for any attack.

Brazil’s options don’t have the same quality or reputation, but Lucio and Thiago Silva is also a pairing that would strike fear into any attacking lineup. Aerially dominant, good on the ball and aggressive as they come I would ultimately back the Brazilian’s to make an error before the Italians.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference : News Photo

In midfield, Italy have got balance for days. The destroyer vibe of Daniele De Rossi alongside the playmaking skill of Marco Verratti and Andrea Pirlo give the team the perfect base to build their attacks from while also being to compete in defensive situations too.

Brazil’s lineup is a bit more top heavy and I’ve gone with Fernandinho in the holding midfield role. Now I know I could’ve picked Gilberto Silva but I went with the Manchester City man for the simple reason that I have seen him play in top heavy teams before. With Kaka, Ronaldinho and Neymar ahead of him all interchanging positions and causing havoc, Italy will have a tough time containing the quality and invention they have.

In attack, Italy’s attack has got three magnificent talents ready to link up and interchange positions. Roberto Baggio is widely considered as the best Italian attacker of his generation or since, while Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero are the reigning kings of Rome and Turin respectively.

Their passing, creativity, skill and link up play would likely see some of the best team goals ever scored with them on the pitch, although they lack the frightening pace that a side likely to play on the counter attack would like to have.


For Brazil, two of the greatest number nines of the modern generation playing up front together is a terrifying prospect. Romario was the main man during the 1994 World Cup and it was ‘El Fenomeno’ who took the mantle and went on to be one of the best strikers of all time. Together, their combination of pace, skill, strength, creativity and ruthless finishing would surely be too much for any defence.

This would be a battle between attack and defence and it’s hard to see past the attack coming out on top.

Brazil are by no means pushovers defensively and if the full-backs are a bit more efficient with their attacking outlet then you can imagine Italy struggling to break them down with their lack of pace.

With that said, Italy will have the advantage in midfield with three excellent ball-players in there so if they can keep the ball for long periods and keep Brazil’s attack quiet then they would potentially be able to cause an upset.

The likelihood for me however, is that Brazil get on the ball in dangerous areas far too often for the Italian’s to cope and eventually they get broken down for the famous yellow jerseys to celebrate a win yet again.