EURO 2020 HALF TIME: Italy 0-0 Spain. The referee adds two extra seconds before blowing for the break. Olmo, who was about to break into some space in the middle of the park, is livid. Everyone else walks off. It’s been a half of nearly and not-quite. To be fair, the nearlies have been high quality, the not-quites top-drawer.
Insigne dribbles in from the left, drawing two white shirts and reverse-passing Emerson into space. Emerson, facing a tight angle, goes for the top left and clips the top of the bar! The ball twangs out for a goal kick.
Pedri tries to one-two his way through the Italian defence down the left, but the return from Olmo is overhit and Donnarumma claims. Italy slow it down a little. Now it’s the turn of the Spain fans to whistle their dissatisfaction.
Busquets and Pedri combine smoothly down the inside-left channel. Pedri then slides a diagonal pass towards Oyarzabal, just to the right of the D. Oyarzabal opts to take a first-time shot, aiming for a spectacular curler into the top-left. He does indeed find the top left, but only of the stand behind the goal. Full marks for ambition, though, and it was a lovely sweeping move.
Emerson romps down the middle, into a lot of space with great passion. He’s got options on both sides, but takes one stride too many and is eventually robbed by Busquets. Spain looked very light at the back there, so that has to go down as a missed opportunity to bother Simon, one way or another.
Di Lorenzo leaves one on Torres, causing the referee to point and wag his finger. No booking though. On that subject, here’s Kári Tulinius: “I didn’t expect these teams to contest such a frantic match. Even Busquets seems a bit flustered. This game will probably be settled by a player who finds a pocket of calm in the midst of the storm. Or emotions will boil over in the old style. Felix Brych was in charge during Belgium-Portugal, which got fairly traditional, tackling-wise.”
Insigne has been fairly quiet, but now he one-twos with Immobile and nearly opens Spain up down the left. Azpilicueta shepherds him out of play for a goal kick. Olmo is causing Italy all sorts of bother. Now he worries the thin blue back line with a purposeful skitter down the inside right. He reaches the edge of the D before, with options either side, sending a swerving shot over the bar. He’s now got Torres and Oyarzabal giving him trenchant advice in stereo.
An exciting first half, a second one waits.