EURO 2020: Possession game serves Spain well, but Italy has its own way, says Mancini

Italy coach Roberto Mancini defended Spain’s possession-based style of play on Monday but is adamant his side will not change how it sets up for its Euro 2020 semifinal.

Although 2008 and 2012 European Championship winner Spain has progressed to a last-four meeting with Italy at Wembley on Tuesday, its passing-heavy approach has not impressed everyone back home.

Popular chat show El Chiringuito asked “does this Spain team make you ashamed?” earlier in the tournament, while Radio Marca said “Spain do not excite and are full of doubt” after a group-stage draw with Poland.

“In the last 20 years, they have dominated world football so I don’t think they will change their style of play now,” Mancini told a news conference. “Luis Enrique is a great coach for what he has shown.

“They have a style of play, invented by them, which has led them to extraordinary successes and they continue to do it well.

“Ours will be slightly different, we are Italian and we cannot suddenly become Spanish. We will try to play our game.”

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The reaction back in Italy to the Azzurri’s performances at Euro 2020 has been much more positive, with Mancini’s men winning all five matches, stretching their record unbeaten run to 32 games to move within two wins of a second European title.

“When you build up to kick off, you start to feel nervous, and the same goes for me,” Mancini added. “But that is what is so great about occasions like this.

“It is unfair that there are no fans from Italy and Spain (at Wembley). But it is better to play in front of the public than in front of a few people – that is the beauty of sport.”

Spain’s front line is likely to be led by striker Alvaro Morata, a teammate of Italy defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini at Juventus who has had his fair share of critics during the tournament.

“He is a friend, we are often together,” Bonucci said. “I know what it means to read criticism, to hear certain things. I am close to him, Alvaro is an exquisite person, a good guy, a great player.

“He is one of the best strikers in the world. Fortunately, I have him in the team during the season. We will need great attention for him and everyone tomorrow.”

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