Italy boss Roberto Mancini has warned his players they are not in the Euro 2020 final yet ahead of their mouth-watering semi-final showdown against Spain on Tuesday.
The Italians have qualified for the European Championship semi-finals as the only nation to win all five matches at the tournament so far, including extra-time triumph over Austria in the last-16.
Indeed, Gli Azzurri will take the field at Wembley Stadium in the midst of a purple patch, having gone unbeaten in 37 consecutive internationals since a narrow 1-0 loss to Portugal in the Nations League back in September 2018.
Romelu Lukaku’s first-half penalty saw Italy fail to keep a clean sheet in regulation time for the first time in 12 fixtures, though they still progressed into the semis thanks to a 2-1 win.
Even though they entered the tournament with outside chances to lift the crown, Mancini’s men now have a genuine opportunity to wrap up their first Euro title since 1968.
However, the Italian gaffer wants to take one step at the team as he hailed Spain and their tactician, Luis Enrique, in the build-up to their heavyweight clash in London.
“It will be a tough game, Spain are different from Belgium, but we will still face many difficulties. We suffered against Austria because of their aggressivity and because it was the first game in the knock-out stage,” Mancini said at a press conference as relayed by Football Italia.
“Spain have been extraordinary over the last few years. They have many young players and an excellent coach.
“Luis Enrique won the Champions League with Barcelona, but not only that. His Roma side played good football.”
Though it may sound somewhat surprising, Italy head into proceedings as favorites to reach the final, and justifiably so after beating Spain 2-0 in their last encounter at a major tournament.
However, their 2-0 victory in the Euro 2016 group stage remains one of Italy’s two victories in their last 14 meetings with Spain across all competitions.
After succumbing to an embarrassing 3-0 loss in their most recent competitive match against this opposition, the Italians will be keen to exact revenge on the big scene.
Mancini has been a catalyst to reinvigorate the fallen giants, and there is a feeling that Gli Azzurri could upset the Iberian powerhouse on Tuesday night.