2023 Nations League Review Between Spain and Croatia
Spain defeated Italy 2-1 in the semi-final of the UEFA Nations League, marking their second consecutive victory over Italy in the tournament. The match took place at De Grolsch Veste. Spain will now face Croatia in the final on Sunday.
After a disappointing loss to Scotland in his second game as head coach, Luis de la Fuente was pleased with his team’s strong performance. Spain applied high pressure on Italy’s defense, resulting in Yeremy Pino stealing the ball from Leonardo Bonucci. Pino then had enough time and space in the penalty area to choose his spot and score, giving Spain an early lead and bringing them closer to winning their first trophy in 11 years.
However, the lead did not last long, as Robin Le Normand was penalized for handling the ball in the penalty box after Nicolò Zaniolo’s shot hit his arm. Ciro Immobile then stepped up and scored the penalty to equalize after 11 minutes. Italy thought they had completed a comeback shortly after, when Davide Frattesi skillfully put the ball through Unai Simón’s legs after being set up by a brilliant pass from Jorginho.
However, the goal was disallowed for a close offside call, resulting in a tied scoreline at halftime. Both teams continued to go back and forth in the second half, but Spain had the better chances as Mikel Merino, Álvaro Morata, and Rodri came close to regaining the lead. Spain’s dominance continued beyond the 60-minute mark, and Simón had little to do in the second half. However, he was called into action by a sudden Frattesi shot, but the Spanish goalkeeper reacted quickly and denied the Italian.
Both teams were getting tired and it seemed like the game would go into extra time, but Spain managed to take the lead again in a lucky way. Rodri’s shot from outside the penalty area deflected off a player and landed to Joselu, who tapped the ball into the net from close range. Spain had been the better team for most of the match, so the winning goal was well-deserved.
They will now face Croatia in the final of the Nations League, while Italy will play against the Netherlands for third place.