Last night’s friendly encounter between two of Europe’s footballing giants gave an idea about who looks the better prepared team for Euro 2016, even though the match resulted in a 1-1 draw. Here’s a detailed look at the important points:
The outgoing Antonio Conte employed an encouraging 3-4-3 formation which was undoubtedly experimental, but the Italian team looked at ease for most parts of the game. The team fit into the new formation quite well which was evident in their attacking play. Spain, on the other hand was a pale shadow of the team that was crowned the European champions four years ago, which was accentuated by the team’s lacklustre performance in front of the goal.
In the battle of the goalkeepers, David De Gea triumphed over the veteran Gianluigi Buffon. The Manchester United shotstopper was the lone shining star in an otherwise below-par Spanish display, pulling off some spectacular saves, thus avoiding defeat and pushing his stakes towards replacing Casillas as Spain’s No.1. Buffon had a fairly comfortable night except for the uncharacteristic blunder of slipping the ball towards Aduriz which cost his team the victory.
The three-man Italian defence performed better as compared to their four-man Spanish counterparts. Bonucci and Darmian put up impressive performances while Astori had a few nervous moments in the game. For Spain, apart from Ramos who pulled off some important interceptions, Pique, Azpilicueta and Juanfran were quite ordinary.
The Spanish midfield had a night they would want to forget quickly. The presence of Sergio Busquets was missed throughtout the game and the attacking midfielders hardly created any chances. The Italian midfield was much better with Thiago Motta putting on a commanding display in the middle of the pitch. The Spanish defence was troubled by Florenzi and Candreva too.
In front of the goal, it was Lorenzo Insigne who made all the difference, coming on as a sub and using his pace and skill to score the opener which was a result of a well-worked Italian move. Southampton forward Pelle also used his strength and height to be at the right place at the right time and trouble the Spanish backline. For Spain, Morata and Aduriz performed well as it was Morata’s downward header that resulted in Aduriz’s equaliser and considering that they were barely presented with chances.
To conclude, the Azurri will go into their next friendly against the world champions Germany with high confidence levels whereas La Roja have a lot of work to do before they face Romania on Sunday.