Leonardo Bonucci has claimed that Italy is “thriving on the occasion” as they prepare to face Spain in the first semi-final on Tuesday at Wembley. Italy have been the standout side in the tournament so far along with England and are expected to reach the finals.
The first semi-final between Spain and Italy will be a rematch of the 2012 Euro final wherein the great Spain side of their golden generation won 4-0. Leonardo Bonucci is one of only two players who have survived from the team that started the match against Spain back in 2012. This time around, Italy are slight favourites and will not back down from a proper midfield battle against La Roja.
“We are thriving on this occasion, we have made it this far and we are going to give absolutely everything in our power to make the Italian people proud of this Azzurri side,” the Juventus defensive stalwart said on the eve of the game.
Bonucci added that Italy have planned to dedicate reaching the finals, if they do so, to Leonardo Spinazzola who suffered a torn Achilles injury in the round of 16 match against Belgium. Spinazzola was one of the best players of the tournament and will be a huge miss against Spain.
“We have had a flawless run so far, but even if Spain have had some issues we need to put that to one side and really focus on what we need to do, where we need to improve,” said the 34-year-old central defender.
“We simply need to be motivated by the fact we are coming up against such a great and prestigious side in such a wonderful arena as Wembley, in the knowledge that we could be involved in the final in just a few days’ time.”
“The final in Kiev leaves a bitter taste in the mouth because we were really all out of puff by the time we got to the game,” recalled Bonucci, who played for Italy against Spain in 2012 and in 2016.