Italy go from one European Championship favourite to the other, recording a defeat against Belgium away last November, followed by today’s draw against Spain in Udine. The Azzurri put in a convincing performance ahead of the next tough task against Germany. Italy were dominant throughout. Both goals came in the second half; substitute Inisgne opened the scoring for the home side before Aduriz equalised a couple of minutes later.
Ahead of the game, the stadium fell into a one minute’s silence to pay respects to those lost in recent events in Spain and Belgium, and to put up a front against violence in general.
Conte chose a 4-3-3 formation for the match. In front of goalkeeper Buffon stood Darmian, Bonucci and Astori. The midfield was made up of Florenzi, Thiago Motta, Parolo and Giaccherini while Candreva and Eder supported Pellé up front. Both teams were missing big stars due to injury. The home team had to go without Barzagli, Chiellini, Marchisio and Verratti, while Spain missed Iniesta, Busquets and Diego Costa.
Italy began the game well, pushing forward to try and take the lead. After chances early on for Pellé and Candreva, the home side had a great opportunity after 25 minutes. More good link-up play between Pellé and Candreva left the ball at Giaccherini’s feet, whose final effort was blocked. The last chance of the first half fell to Spain, when Thiago crossed, but Morata couldn’t get on the end of it.
Towards the start of the second half, Conte brought on Insigne for Giaccherini. This substitution proved to be crucial in the deciding of the game. Inisgne’s first significant impact on the match came shortly after his arrival on the pitch, when his shot from distance forced De Gea into a save. The resulting corner saw Bonucci’s header go just wide of the mark. A couple of minutes later the goal finally came for the Azzurri. A fast ball across the pitch came to Giaccherini at the edge of the box, who played a ball into the middle. Insigne slid to reach it, slotting it in at the far post, giving Italy a deserved 1-0 lead. It was, however, short lived. Spain replied straight away, attacking and winning a corner. A goalmouth scramble followed, which resulted in the ball falling kindly to Aduriz, who was able to put the ball into the roof of the net.
Bernardeschi and Zaza then came on for Candreva and Pellè. It was Benardeschi, the youngster’s international debut. Another player making his Azzurri debut was Jorginho, who came on late in the game with De Silvestri for Parolo and Thiago Motta.
Despite the draw against reigning European Champions, Italy put in a good performance in front of the home fans from which they will be able to take confidence to Munich for the friendly against World Cup winners Germany.