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European Football Championship: Spain humiliates Italy with its football skills

European Football Championship: Spain humiliates Italy with its football skills
European Football Championship: Spain humiliates Italy with its football skills

What a game! In Gelsenkirchen, spectators witnessed a demonstration of the highest Spanish football art. With the “Furia Roja”, the European Championship now has its big title favorite.

“We completely outplayed Italy today, we showed that we have what it takes to beat Italy,” said Luis de la Fuente after the match in front of the assembled football press, although it was not clear whether the interpreter had not translated the Spanish national team coach very freely.

But “abfiedeln” is a very nice word. Very fitting for what happened that evening in the concrete box of the Gelsenkirchen “Veltins” Arena.

Italy “fought”: after all, a football superpower with four world championship titles and two European championship titles. Fought even under the eyes of its own royal family: Felipe VI of Spain had arrived in a dark motorcade in good time before kick-off and, shielded by a whole hundred German riot police, immediately disappeared into the “UEFA VIP lounge”. Secular nobility meets football nobility – it really doesn’t get any better than that.

Em 2024: Spain sweeps over Italy

What was witnessed last night was not a football match. It was a humiliation. “La Furia Roja”, the “red fury” from Spain, swept over the Italians like a tsunami and tore the proud “Squadra Azzurra” apart. “Totally detached” – in the Spanish version.

There was always a reverent murmur in the stands when the Spanish wingers, with the two sky-high strikers Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal, started their little dance through the pitifully helpless Italian defense lines. What these two youngsters did must have felt like a Bosnian shell game to Dimarco, Calafiori, Bastoni, Barella and all the others: Where is the little white ball right now?

At some point in the middle of the second half, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who had kept his team in the game with one world-class save after another, spread both arms wide in a gesture of deep despair. Up front, Chiesa and Scamacca were wearing themselves out in a futile effort to at least get some contact with the ball. When the two were substituted in the 64th minute, they looked as if they had to go straight under the oxygen tent. The Spanish fans were already singing “Eviva España”.

People looked and were amazed.

How the tall Rodri repeatedly played long balls from midfield with deadly precision behind the Italians’ last line. How Cucurella, a left-back with a wild mane in the Argentine look, tore open the opposing defence from the side with his almost shameless offensive runs. How the tireless Morata in the centre of the attack immediately started counter-pressing as soon as the Italians finally got the ball, so close to the five-metre area as if he wanted to push Italy’s goalkeeper Donnarumma into his goal himself. And how Yamal, the child prodigy, left the Italian defensive professionals, who suddenly seemed very stiff in the hips, standing like slalom poles. The boy is 16 and still wears braces.

No more boring “Tiki-Taka”

Happy Spain. This “golden generation” no longer plays tiring wide-screen football in the tiki-taka style like Iniesta, Xavi and co. When they have the ball, they immediately “look for depth”, the deadly pass towards the goal, and after every attack everyone goes on the hunt for the ball, a wild chase at an unbelievable speed, on and on. Joachim Löw would probably call it “maximum intensity”, so breathless was the night in the “Veltins” Arena. The average football fan didn’t even have time to get a beer if he didn’t want to miss anything. Even after the final whistle, many visitors were still stunned by the demonstration of the highest football art that they were able to witness.

This European Championship is no longer the same as it was before. The tournament now has an absolute top favorite in Spain. “Italia che lezione dalla Spagna” was the headline in the “Gazzetta dello Sport” just half an hour after the final whistle – “Italy, what a lesson from Spain”. A reporter from his home country asked Italy’s “Commissario tecnico”, Luciano Spalletti, at the press conference after the match: “What positive approaches can we draw from this game for the future of Italian football?”, which suggests that the man has a fine sense of humor. Because this 0:1 could easily have been a 0:4 or 0:5. At most, the fact that the Spaniards were very wasteful with their incredible number of goal chances and also let the Italians score the only goal as an own goal might be seen as a blemish in all the beauty that they conjured up on the pitch.

Julian Nagelsmann’s opponent observation department is facing a huge task. One thing is clear: there will be no way around these Spaniards at the European Championships. The convincing performances of the DFB team against Scotland and Hungary were celebrated. But after this evening in Gelsenkirchen, they suddenly seem like nothing more than practice sessions on the way to the longed-for title.

Source: Stern

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