Nations League | Italy 1-2 Spain: Bonucci sees Roja

by | Oct 6, 2021 21:44

Italy saw their 37-match unbeaten run ended by Spain, as Ferran Torres scored two goals around the Leonardo Bonucci red card, so they’ll play for third place in the Nations League.

Nations League Liveblog: Italy vs. Spain

This was the first of the Nations League semi-finals, with France-Belgium tomorrow evening in Turin, and a replay of the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final that was decided on penalties. The Azzurri went on to win the trophy and went into San Siro on a world record 37-match unbeaten run.

Both sides were missing numerous players due to injury, so Federico Bernardeschi was chosen as a False 9 and Alessandro Bastoni preferred to Giorgio Chiellini in defence. Spain also didn’t have a real centre-forward, but 17-year-old Gavi became the youngest ever debutant for Spain.

There was an unfortunate extra tension in the air, as some Milan fans jeered every time Gianluigi Donnarumma touched the ball after he left for a free transfer to PSG.

Federico Chiesa had the first chance after five minutes, palmed away at full stretch by Unai Simon, while Alessandro Bastoni made a decisive block on Mikel Oyarzabal.

Spain took the lead when Oyarzabal got down the left and whipped in a cross that Bastoni failed to cut out, so Ferran Torres cushioned it into the far bottom corner off the inside of his right boot.

It was almost 2-0 moments later, as Donnarumma fumbled the ball onto the near post and Bonucci had to clear it off the line. Even Sergio Busquets went over to reassure the goalkeeper, realising the jeers were getting to him.

Italy fought back, Unai Simon having to palm a Bernardeschi strike onto the upright from a counter, then moments later Lorenzo Insigne incredibly fired wide on Emerson Palmieri’s assist from 14 yards when practically undisturbed.

Just as the Azzurri were getting back into the game, they went down to 10 men, as Leonardo Bonucci received a second yellow card for jumping with elbow raised on Sergio Busquets. His first booking had been for dissent.

Spain went into the break 2-0 up, as another Oyarzabal cross found Ferran Torres, this time for a well-placed header back across Donnarumma into the far top corner.

Giorgio Chiellini came on for the restart, but inevitably Spain started to play keep-ball for long periods. Chiesa sprinted onto a long ball and thumped the near post, but the offside flag was up.

Oyarzabal nodded inches wide after Yeremy Pino floated a cross to the back post, then Donnarumma made a sensational one-on-one save to deny Marcos Alonso.

However, Italy gained hope of an extraordinary comeback when Spain were caught out on their own corner, Chiesa sprinting 50 metres forward, committing Unai Simon and rolling it across for the Lorenzo Pellegrini tap-in. It was a special goal for him, as the Roma midfielder had to miss EURO 2020 through injury.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo made a sensational tackle on Bryan Gil in the six-yard box, but Italy poured forward with 10 men, Unai Simon having to smother at the feet of Manuel Locatelli.

Italy 1-2 Spain

Ferran Torres 17, 45 (S), Pellegrini 83 (I)

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Bastoni, Emerson; Barella (Calabria 72), Jorginho (Pellegrini 64), Verratti (Locatelli 58); Chiesa, Bernardeschi (Chiellini 46), Insigne (Kean 58)

Spain: Unai Simon; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Pau Torres, Marcos Alonso; Koke (Merino 75), Busquets, Gavi (Sergi Roberto 84); Ferran Torres (Pino 49), Sarabia (Bryan Gil 75), Oyarzabal

Ref: Karasev (RUS)

Sent off: Bonucci 42 (I)


  1. Vittorio

    What a joke of a competition. The Nations League will, hopefully, end the same way as the Confederations Cup…to be abolished.

  2. EL CID

    No shame in losing against Spain. Time to retire Rube flop Bonucci. Without his saftey belt (Chiellini), he is an average defender that flopped at Milan and cannot lead Humpty Dumpty De Ligt.

  3. Vittorio

    Now, the Azzurri can focus on the meaningful work of attempting to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

  4. Vittorio

    @El CID…

    Without the BS 2nd yellow on Bonucci, Italy was still competitive. The real issue is reflected in how rattled Italy became and Bonucci’s 1st yellow for arguing with the ref.

    A 4-4-2 or a 4-3-2-1 is best to play vs. Spain

  5. Incredible

    I disagree @ vittorio, the match is was joy to watch and the players gave their all. The competition will surely improve. What is the fate of jorginho? He still deserve the balio donkey. Fonza milan

  6. Vittorio


    What game did you watch? The 2nd yellow on Bonucci was a joke esp. compared to the Spanish fouls on Italy in the 2nd half.

  7. Vittorio


    The Nations League is UEFA’s attempt to reduce “meaningless” friendly matches. However, hopefully, will follow the same fate as the BS Confederations Cup

  8. joe del monte

    This is a tournament? I thought it was a exhibition game. I would rather win the Nations league than the Euro’s. Good example of why the younger players need to play.

  9. Al

    El Cid, you’re so negative! I have yet to see anything nice in any comment you made !

  10. Basta Poco

    Sucks that the streak is over, but now the focus turns to the World Cup. Maybe this loss takes off some of the pressure (because of the streak), and the boys can play with some fun. Invoking the Grande Juve song, “metti un’altra stella sul petto”!

  11. Ghost of Rossi

    Mancini simply picked the wrong starting 11 (although the referee ultimately spoiled the game with his BS yellow on Bonucci). Too may weak links. Di Lorenzo cannot read the game and lets runners past him while looking clueless; at fault for the England goal in the final and all of the Spanish first half chances (aside from the two old men, are there not any better defenders in Serie a???) Verratti always slows the game down to a crawl when he receives the ball while Mancini is trying to develop a high intensity passing game. Insigne has looked out of form for a while now. And Berna is simply not at this level (anyone who watches Juve regularly will admit this).

  12. Roy

    Unhappy ofcourse with the loss and how the match panned out! But happy ….

    1) that it happened now against Spain, b4 the last round of all crucial qualifiers. No going into the qualifiers in easy mode.
    2) for lots of lessons learnt for Mancini and the players individually going forward
    3) for the fighting spirit shown by the team after a man down and 2 goals down. Any other team would have got deflated and lost by a big margin!!

  13. Frankie

    Once again Mancini got his formation and personnel wrong against Spain.
    1) He did not learn anything in the Euro semi. With Spain you have to play 3-5-2. Whenever Italy played this system, Spain always struggled. It gives their midfield less room to do what they do best. A back 3 of Chillini, Bonucci and Bastoni would be very hard to break down.
    2) If you really wanted to win the game, Chiellini should have started
    3) Varratti and Jorginho together is a waste of a midfielder because they play the same way and slow the play down too much. One of those with Barella and either Locatelli or Pellegrini would have been more effective – more dynamism and greater goal scoring threat through Loca and Pellegrini. Although, I must say, I haven’t been impressed at all with Barella over the last 8 games or so. Simply doesn’t do enough and has taken his place in the team for granted.
    4) If you have the choice to play Moise Kean or Bernadeschi up front, you have to go with Kean or even Raspadori or Berardi.
    5) Immobile needs to stop being so wasteful otherwise he should not be getting so much game time.
    Last point, El Cid – Bonucci did not have a great game and was unlucky to be sent off, but I bet you were singing his praises when he shone at the Euros. By the way, Bonucci and ‘Humpty Dumpty’ De Ligt played a flawless game against the current Euro champs in Chelsea – but don’t let envy and bias cloud your judgement hey? By the way. Chiellini and Bonucci are still the best CB’s Italy has. Bastoni is a very good player but still needs to eat more pasta – first goal was terrible marking from him.

  14. Mike

    Frankie totally agree against Spain 3-5-2 would have been perfect with chellini bonucci and bastoni. You load the midfield with localtelli , pellegrini verratti barella and Jorginho. Up front keane and chiesa . I think they would won in 2nd half if it were not for that red card , regardless Mancini needs to stop being stubborn with his formation . 4-3-3 doesn’t always work .

  15. Roy

    Calabria should start over De Lorenzo. Verratti slows down the game a lot .. Loca should start. Jorghino doesn’t offer a goal threat but helps the defence .. so should start with his big match experience and being a good game reader. Pellegrini should start ahead of Barella who recently is not doing that well for the national team. And if Barella plays … then Pellegrini as False 9 or in place of Insigne who is very inconsistent and misses so many chances!! Bastoni has to learn fast (that 1st goal wouldn’t have been concedes if Chiellini played!!) .. can he and Roma‘s Mancini replace Bonucci and Cheillini?? And we need a strong, tall, clinical target man in the box to score from free-kicks and corners when it’s difficult to score from open play ….

  16. EL CID

    @AL it is not negative I am just spitting out facts. Bonucci should go take lessons from Ramos on how to perfect the dark arts. A smarter defender knows when and how to get away with things. Also tell me when Bonucci has played well without his mentor, father and safety belt (Chiellini) ? He left Milan in disgrace as he could not marshal the backline. Poor Bastoni having to play next to this clumsy mess. I bet De Ligt’s game would drastically if he were playing next to a younger and healthier Chiellini. He was horrendous for the Netherlands at the Euro’s because he is playing for an average team with a chicken for a leader (Bonucci). Go see the comments Dani Alves said about him after the CL loss in Cardiff. Facts!

  17. Ribas

    Cut the crap EL CID! You’re so fake with your arguments. Just like the name that you take from one of the Juventus fan here.

  18. Jarod KNowles

    careful with using the 3-5-2 with this lot, isn’t that what we used in 2012 and they hit us with 4-0 even going for a 5th goal, i recall buffon after the game saying how they were trying to humiliate italy. even tonight they tried to go for a 3rd but last 20 mins italy played with grit, we needed that in the 1st half and we would have equalized, agree with most comments that need dedicated work horses in there like chiesa, pellegrini, locatelli, we all know that if chiesa hits the goal 3x’s at least 1 will go in, now he is also assisting so we need this sort of spirit in each player

  19. frankie

    El Cid, I’m not pleased about Bonucci’s brain fade against Spain, but to correct you – the last time Bonucci played well without Chiellini happened less than a week ago when he marshalled the team to a victory over the current Euro champs where he and De Ligt completely muzzled Lukaku and Havartz.

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