Semi Finals Review

by Chris Balding

Unless you are living in a cave then you should be fully aware that IT’S NEARLY HOME!!!

This week’s Euro action saw the excitement turn to 11 as we entered the semi finals. On Tuesday we saw Italy take on Spain, Catenaccio (counter attacking) vs Tiki-Taka (possession). On Wednesday the whole nation was hooked to their TV screens as England played Denmark in front of over 60,000 fans at Wembley.

We took in the action at Bread Shed in Manchester at our FOOTBALL FEST event. Before the game we had some great performances from The Rifles and Andrew Cushin.

Italy Vs Spain 1 – 1 FT (P 4 – 2)

Italy edged out Spain on penalties after a tough fought semi final, helping Italy reach their 10th major tournament final.

Roberto Manchini made just one change to his Italian side that beat Belgium, the injured Leonardo Spinazzola replaced by Chelsea’s Emerson, who had very big boots to fill. Spain made three changes, not surprisingly, dropping the out of form Álvaro Morata to the bench, effectively playing the game without a striker. 

Italy looked to go ahead early as Nicolò Barella’s chip shot hit the post but it wouldn’t have counted as he was flagged offside. After some back and forth it was then Spain’s turn to put the pressure on Italy as the ball ricocheted to Dani Olmo whose effort was saved by young prodigy Gianluigi Donnarumma. Right at the end of the first half Emerson from a tight angle blasted the ball at goal only for the Spanish keeper to get a glove on it deflecting the ball over the bar. It finished goalless at the break, with Spain looking the bigger threat. 

52 minutes into the game the ball got laid off to Spain’s Sergio Busquets on the edge of the box only for his shot to whistle past the top of the bar. Not long after in the 60th minute Italy managed to break the deadlock when an Italian counter attack was intercepted by a spanish defender but fortunately fell to Federico Chiesa who cut into the box and curled the ball past the Spanish goalkeeper, 1-0 to Italy.  Spain looked to get back into the game by replacing Man City’s Ferran Torres with Morata, switching up their attack by using a true number 9. The next chance fell to Spain as delightful ball was floated into the box only for Mikel Oyarzabal to completely miss the ball, if he would have made contact it was very likely Spain would have equalised. 2 minutes later Italy were on another counter and this time Unai Simón the Spanish goalkeeper was forced into making a near post save. With 10 minutes to go until the final whistle, Morata redeems himself by playing a one-two to open up space in the box before calmly slotting the ball in the goal, 1-1. Italy had the final chance of the 90 but the chance was easily saved taking the game into extra time.

Both teams had some chances in the second but with good defending and an offside ruling, both teams failed to take the lead, taking the game into penalties. 

Just like their previous penalty shootout against the Swiss, Spain missed their first penalty and so did the Italians. Then four good penalties followed making it 2-2 in the shootout. The fresh legs of the sub Federico Bernardeschi put the Italian in the lead adding more pressure to outcast Morata. You could tell from his walk up to the spot that he wasn’t confident and as soon as he struck the ball you knew it wasn’t his or Spain’s day as his tame effort was saved, setting off Italy’s celebrations as they are through to the final at Wembley.

England Vs Denmark 2 – 1 FT

And now to the main event, after some luck/controversy (depending on who you support), England beat Denmark 2-1 after extra time to reach their first final in a major tournament for  only 55 years!

Even before the game started there were shots fired at England from the Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, as he poked fun at the three lions when a reporter asked him ‘What would it mean to stop it coming home?’ he jokingly replied ‘Has it ever been home? I don’t know, have you ever won it?’. 

Southgate made one change to his side replacing Jadon Sancho with Bukayo Saka after he recovered from his ankle injury ruling him out of the previous game. Denmark on the other hand made no changes to their squad who beat Czech Republic in the quarters.

After a shaky start both teams had a chance a piece, with Raheem Sterling doing what he does best and cutting in and shooting but the tame effort was easily saved and Mikkel Damsgaard effort at the other end of the pitch was high and wide. Half an hour played and Denmark were given a free kick in a promising position just outside England’s box.  Mikkel Damsgaard whose previous effort when wide didn’t make the same mistake as his pacey, dipping shot flew into the England goal with Jordan Pickford only managing to get a glove on it, 1-0 to Denmark. The goal seemed to put the fire in the English bellies as we had a stellar chance of our own to equalise as Harry Kane put in a teasing ball into the box only for Sterling to shoot straight at the goalkeeper. The next attack, however, had a different result as Kane put through Saka who crossed the ball low and hard forcing the Denmark defender Simon Kjaer to put into his own goal, otherwise Sterling was waiting to tap it in, 1-1. 

After the break, the tense game continued with both teams trying desperately to go ahead. At the 55 minute Schmeichel made a great save to deny Harry Magiure when the Manchester United defender rose to head the ball towards the corner of the goal only for Schmeichel to get a hand on it forcing it wide. Denmark made three subs at the halfway point of the second half to sure up the team defensively, while Jack Grealish joined the game in place of Saka to a standing ovation from the crowd. Even with England going for the win a stalemate ensued ending the 90 minutes 1-1.

England seemed to have more going for them in extra time as Kane fired a shot low but only for Schmeichel to produce a stunning save. Grealish was the next player to take a turn at beating Schmeichel but yet again he saved the shot to deny England. The Danish did have a half chance themselves as Barcelona’s Martin Braithwaite turned Maguire only for his weak shot to fall into the clutches of Pickford. Just before the first half of extra time finished, Sterling made a jinking run into the box providing too irresistible to Joakim Mæhle not to put a challenge who clipped Sterling’s foot resulting in the referee blowing his whistle for a penalty kick. Depending on who you support it was a very tight call but lucky for us it went our way. The drama didn’t stop there as Kane stepped up to take the penalty but his initial shot was saved only for the ball to return to his feet giving him an easy tap-in, 2-1 England. England excellently managed the game from their seeing the game out and filling everyone’s heart with joy. The drama was not over as Uefa has charged England with a fine (but honestly who cares!) because a fan in the stadium shined a light in Schmeichel’s eye as the penalty was being taken, but like a true gent he stated after the game that it didn’t affect him.

The Final

Italy vs England (20:00, Sunday 11 July, Wembley)


P.S. Boris give the nation a bank holiday please!

Follow all the Euros action at @scottsmenswear.

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