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Gli Azzurri will advance to the quarter finals of the Euro 2016 after beating Spain 2-0.

We saw a tactical masterclass performed by Conte’s Italy vs. Spain. Once again this team we’ve all doubted showed the world what Italian football is all about. Spain looked clueless as to how to attack the stingy Italian defense.

Spanish midfield shut down

Spain’s midfield is dangerous. With Fabreas, Iniesta, Busquets in the middle we expect a typical Spanish style of play. What did Conte do? He shut them down. They weren’t able to produce anything the whole first half. Iniesta wasn’t given any time on the ball to do what he liked to do. Silva tried to make things happen, but was swarmed with blue shirts around him. Busquets was not given any opportunity to dive or piss us off.

The wings were unproductive as well coming up short on crosses and were unable to find any kind of lethal ball that would give Buffon a headache.

Spain has been known to break down defenses. They have done it in the past against most of their opponents. The patience and sense of direction from the Italian defenders kept Spain guessing all game long.

 

Defensive Command

Buffon and his back line of defenders are so synchronized that it allows the team to defend in the highest order. The back three of Bonucci, Chiellini, and Barzagli are all on the same page. With the direction of Buffon, the Italians were able to shut down the Spanish attack each and every time. All 11 defenders on Italy stayed cool, calm, compact and hard nosed for 90 minutes. There were points where Eder was playing next to or behind De Rossi to make sure everyone was behind the ball, defending as a unit.

 

Eder and Pelle

These two have had a phenomenal tournament together. They have been creating so many opportunities to score for each other time and time again. The hold up play and height of Pelle adds a physical presence that is key to the attack. Eder isn’t the guy to count on to score, but he will continue to annoy the defense, open up space for Pelle and the midfield and will make the right decision on the ball. The Spanish defense, or what they thought was defense, was unable to stop Eder’s runs all game long.

Eder also took the free kick that De Gea was unable to hold onto leading to Chiellini’s first goal.

 

No Candreva, No Problem

If Gli Azzurri continue to show the heart and fight that they have shown in every game of this tournament they will find success. Soccer is a team sport. This Italian squad is doing just that and it has been working out very well. Even without Antonio Candreva, who has been the most influential player in Italy’s attack the attack has not suffered one bit. Florenzi filled his role very well and was constantly a threat on the right side.

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