The last match of Euro 2020 group A stage has been played last Sunday. Wales qualified for the Euro 2020 last 16 as runners-up of Group A despite a 1-0 loss to Italy.
Matteo Pessina’s shocker
The Italians had already guaranteed their progress from Group A, but they want to assure themselves of first place with a victory. With big names like Insigne, Berardi, Immobile, Locatelli not in the starting 11, new-look Italy started well. Belotti along with Chiesa lead the attack. They kept knocking on the door, along with Marco Verratti in the midfield, until Matteo Pessina’s 39th-minute goal, when he steered a low Marco Verratti free-kick into the far corner and shocked everybody. The midfielder wasn’t even meant to be in the squad but was added in after Stefano Sensi’s injury.
“It was the perfect performance, the one everyone dreams of, to decide the victory in a major tournament. I might not sleep for a few weeks after this,” Pessina said to RAI sport.
A dominant performance by the Italians, Wales played with a one-man down
Mancini’s Italy played dominant football, despite the 8 changes in the starting lineup. They took 70% possession of the game with 6 shots on target out of 23. Andrea Belotti would be frustrated too at the end of the game against Wales, as he came close to scoring on several occasions. It was also an 11th consecutive win with a clean sheet for Italy who had already booked their ticket to the knockout rounds with a game to spare. Federico Chiesa got the Man of the Match award.
On the other hand, Welsh team with big names like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were never in the game. Ramsey and Bale both got the chances but were unable to convert it into a goal. Italian defender’s stood like a wall specially Bastoni and Bonucci. They didn’t allow to let pass Bale and Ramsey. At the 55th minute of the game, Ampadu is sent off for a high boot stamp on Bernardeschi’s boot. Wales played with a one-man down and only managed to keep 1 shot on a target.
In their three Euro games so far, Italy has used 25 of their 26 players in the squad. 8 big changes in the starting 11 could be gone either way, but Mancini is known for bold decisions and it worked. Mancini put attention to every detail, as you can see in Pessina’s goal, it was a result of a well-drilled training ground routine of finding the right player in the box. At the 89th minute of the game, Mancini shockingly substitutes the goalkeeper Donnarumma with Sirigu to give him some pitch time.
The Italians are marching into the knockout rounds as one of the favourites to win the tournament, but they haven’t faced the real threat yet. Both Wales and Italy will face their opponents in a knockout match Saturday and Sunday respectively.