Cesar Azpilicueta says Spain must keep Lorenzo Insigne and Jorginho quiet if they are to overcome Italy in Tuesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final.
Italy head into the showdown at Wembley as the most in-form side in Europe after going 32 matches without defeat and winning the last 13 of those.
The Azzurri saw off Turkey, Switzerland and Wales to top Group A, before beating Austria in extra time and Belgium inside 90 minutes, in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively.
Forward Insigne started four of those five games, the exception being the final group match against Wales, while Jorginho has been an ever-present for Roberto Mancini’s side.
Jorginho has completed the most passes (364) of any midfielder at Euro 2020 so far and is fourth in the list in terms of passes in the opposition half with 249, behind Koke (269), Toni Kroos (271) and Pedri (305).
He is a player Azpilicueta is familiar with, the pair having helped Chelsea to Champions League glory last season, and the defender knows the importance of shackling his club-mate.
“We have a chat set up with all the Chelsea players, but it will be good to see him on the pitch on Tuesday,” Azpilicueta told Sky Sport Italia.
“This is football. Sometimes you play against your team-mates when representing your national side. We will both give it our all to helps our teams reach the final.
“He is of course a great player both for Chelsea and Italy. It is important we limit his involvement. He likes to have the ball and control the game. He is a very intelligent player.
“The better we are at keeping him quiet, the more chance we have of controlling the game.”
While Jorginho has provided an assured presence in the engine room for a much-fancied Italy side, Insigne has been receiving plenty of plaudits for his performances up top.
The Napoli forward was on target for Italy in their opening match and curled in one of the goals of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Belgium in Friday’s quarter-final.
He has been involved in 13 goals in his last 15 games for Italy in all competitions – six goals and seven assists – and netted 19 goals in 35 Serie A appearances last season.
“He is not someone I know personally, but on the pitch he is very dangerous,” Azpilicueta added. “He is a great player, very technical and fast.
“He always looks to work a one-on-one and is constantly communicating with his team-mates. We will have to defend as a team and attack as a team. We are aware of the strength of Italy’s attackers.”
EURO 2020 semi-finals set
Italy vs Spain
England vs Denmark
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 3, 2021
Spain’s performances have not been as consistent as Italy’s, having drawn their opening two group matches before advancing in second place with a 5-0 win over Slovakia.
La Roja then held off Croatia 5-3 after extra time, becoming the first side in European Championship history to score five or more goals in consecutive games, and penalties were required to overcome Switzerland last time out.
However, Italy have beaten Spain only twice in their last 15 meetings in all competitions and lost 4-0 when the sides met in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev.
Azpilicueta has started Spain’s last three games and is focusing on the positives ahead of Tuesday’s clash in London.
“We did not start well in terms of results, but on the field we have always managed to dominate and control matches,” he said.
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