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Bonucci & Chiesa celebrate Italy’s win over Spain

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Juve’s key men played big roles for the Azzurri

Italy v Spain - UEFA Euro 2020: Semi-final Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images

As Juventus fans we’ve gotten used to seeing the club producing generations of national talent that have gone on to represent the Italy side with great success. During yesterday’s Euro 2021 semi-final between Italy and Spain, Juve players performed with distinction again, ironically including something for La Roja to cheer about too.

Giorgio Chiellini captained the Azzurri with all the cheerful joyousness of a teenager, while locking down the defence with his Juve partner Leonardo Bonucci. The only time they were breached was by their Bianconeri teammate Alvaro Morata, a second half sub for the Spaniards. Italy’s go-ahead goal was scored by Federico Chiesa who is having himself an excellent tournament with his searing pace and precision finishing. Even the much-maligned Federico Bernardeschi has played a key part with his spotkick dispatched in a cool and collected that belied the fact that he’d only been on the pitch for a few minutes.

Speaking after the victory, Bonucci commented on the challenge that Spain had posed them.

“This is the toughest game I have ever played. I congratulate Spain for what they showed, but once again this Italy showed heart, determination and the ability to push through difficult moments and the lottery of penalties rewarded us.

“The victory you suffer for is always the most enjoyable one.”

Luis Enrique pulled a tactical surprise going with a False-9 formation to start the game with Morata on the bench.

“We knew they could try a few surprises, as Luis Enrique has done that a few times in his career. They moved around a lot upfront and didn’t give us reference points, but we brought home an historic result with the heart of the Italians.”

This will be La Nazionale’s fourth European Championships final, winning once in 1968 and making it to the last stage in the 2000 and 2012 tournaments as well.

“Now there’s one more centimetre to go. Just one more centimetre…. It’s incredible what we are doing, we mustn’t feel sated. We’re in the Final, it is in five days, and we need the same hunger and spirit of sacrifice to bring this trophy home after many years.”

Goalscorer Chiesa was named the player of the game, dedicating his award to injured fullback Leonardo Spinazzola who has undergone surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon.

“It was a very tough game, Spain are a top team, but we’ve proved to be a strong group.

“I dedicate the MVP award to Leonardo Spinazzola, and the win too. He would have helped us tonight, but these things can happen in football, we hope we can give him satisfaction in the Final.”

The Italy players now get a few days to recuperate after a physically tiring effort against Spain.

“There are a few days to recover now, but we’ve played every three games this season, so we are ready, we’ll have enough time to recover.

“As I’ve always said, I think about improving and reaping the rewards of my work.”