Sergio Busquets’ stock is high this summer. The Barcelona midfielder transformed La Roja when he returned to the starting lineup after a coronavirus-enforced absence at Euro 2020, forming a delightful triangle at the heart of the side with Pedri and Koke. Spain play Italy in the semi-final on Tuesday and Busquets is full of enthusiasm for the tie according to Diario AS.
“They’re going to want the ball and they’re capable of it,” Busquets said of Italy. “They have very good players on the ball like Jorginho, [Marco] Verratti and [Lorenzo] Insigne. They’re very good players who are very comfortable on the ball, but we’re going to try to prevent it from being like that and impose ourselves on the game.
“It’s very difficult to reach the semi-finals. Football has evolved a lot and it’s difficult to win any game because all the teams are very hard-working, they’ve a high level of scouting, of staff. Individually the players have improved in all aspects; mentally, physically, nutritionally.
“But I knew that Luis Enrique’s work was very good. It’s rare to see a top coach working with a national team because normally such coaches are with a team during the season. We’re lucky and privileged to have Luis Enrique; he’s developing his idea, working with his group, with the players he believes in, with a great ambition reflected on the field.”
Spain opened their campaign with disappointing draws against Sweden and Poland, playing in front of an expectant and unforgiving home crowd at La Cartuja down in Seville. Trouble seemed afoot, only for La Roja to click against Slovakia and win 5-0. They followed that up with a helter-skelter 5-3 defeat of Croatia in the last 16 and a nervy penalty shootout victory over Switzerland in the quarter-finals. They’re imperfect, but a threat.
Italy have had an altogether smoother ride. They scored seven goals in the group phase of the competition and didn’t concede once, seeing off Turkey, Switzerland and Wales with ease. Tougher tests came to pass against Austria and Belgium, however, with Roberto Mancini’s men winning both 2-1, the former with the help of extra-time. The clash is set to be classic.