Leonardo Spinazzola will be sorely missed throughout the rest of Euro 2020

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From terrorising Zeki Celik in the opening fixture of Euro 2020 to stopping Romelu Lukaku’s goal-bound effort on Friday night, it’s fair to say that left-back Leonardo Spinazzola had a pretty damn great summer until around the 80th minute of Italy’s 2-1 win over Belgium on Friday night.

As a collective the Azzurri have been phenomenal, but we’ve also seen a few individual masterclasses throughout this summer’s European Championships – and Spinazzola has been one of the players putting in these impressive individual performances.


Leonardo Spinazzola has been sensational for Italy / MATTHIAS HANGST/Getty Images

It is a great shame, therefore, that the Roma man will be absent from the remainder of Italy’s campaign, after being forced off the pitch with a ruptured Achilles tendon during that fantastic quarter-final victory.

He’s set to miss out on months of football but, most heart-breaking, is the fact that he won’t take part in his country’s semi-final, or potentially the final, at Euro 2020.

But, instead of dwelling on what might have been, let’s focus on what has been – and that is simply Spinazzola’s sensational performances and impact on Italy’s run in the competition.

Despite coming into proceedings off the back of a decent individual campaign with Roma – registering two goals in four assists in Serie A – very few would have expected the left-back to produce the football he has done.

Italy’s opening fixture was dominated by his fierce presence on the left flank, surging upfield with the inexhaustible resource of energy and intensity he possesses. Turkish right-back Celik had a torrid time of things and was simply helpless against the trickery and pace of Spinazzola.

It was a shockingly bright showing from Spinazzola – and it was only a taste of what was yet to come.

Turkey vs Italy - EURO 2020Turkey vs Italy - EURO 2020

Leonardo Spinazzola gliding past Zeki Celik / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It was in the knockout stages of the tournament that the 28-year-old really stamped his mark. In his country’s round of 16 clash with Austria, he was undeniably the biggest attacking threat on the pitch. Over the 120 minutes, the Austrian backline were constantly wary of his bursts into the final third, and his quality on the ball when he got there.

Spinazzola was a nuisance to keep track of and, in the end, they were unable to stifle him. The Roma full-back produced a wonderful assist for Federico Chiesa to slot home for 1-0, spurring the side on to eventually secure a 2-1 win.

That sensational display was matched by his work during Italy’s brilliantly dominant victory over Belgium in the last eight. Another staggering performance only further enamoured the left-back to the neutrals as he continued to show just how good he is.

The high position he maintained when his side were in possession was key to dictating play in advanced areas. As he occupied the left-wing, it allowed Lorenzo Insigne to drift infield and find space centrally.

This tactic was key to Italy’s second goal of the game. Able to float inside, Insigne picked the ball up in space, drove at a terrified backline and curled the ball effortlessly into Thibaut Courtois’ far corner – a thing of beauty, made possible by Spinazzola’s selfless work.

And, despite his offensive impact throughout Italy’s run to the semi-finals, he performed admirably when forced to defend too. This was accentuated none more so than in the late stages of that quarter-final victory on Friday night.

Spinazzola instinctively found himself at the back post, with his body on the goal-line, awaiting a dangerous ball into the box. And it came, falling perfectly for Lukaku, who was only denied by the perfectly positioned Spinazzola.

It wasn’t a moment that stole the show by any means, but it maintained Italy’s 2-1 lead over Belgium late on and secured the victory. It was a moment that epitomised the tireless, selfless and utterly brilliant, Spinazzola.

Leonardo Spinazzola, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo BonucciLeonardo Spinazzola, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci

Leonardo Spinazzola passionately congratulated as Romelu Lukaku in disbelief that he’s not scored / Markus Gilliar/Getty Images

Naturally, you have to feel for the 28-year-old. He’s been one of Italy’s best performers throughout the summer and would have been a shoo-in to start the semi final – only for injury to end his campaign prematurely.

He’ll be sorely missed by everyone watching, specifically Italy fans, in the Azzurri’s last matches – or match – and, while we’ll inevitably pity him, he’s definitely more deserving of our appreciation and admiration for a spectacular performance at Euro 2020.

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