After their perfect group stage record, which includes 100 percent wins and no goals conceded, Italy faced Austria in the UEFA Euro round of 16. Although many predicted for it to be an easy win for Azzurri, Austria came up big. However, the great display did not seem enough, as they were beaten 2-1 in extra time.
In one of the most intense fixtures of the tournament so far, David Alaba’s side were seen pressing high on multiple occasions. The idea was to not allow Italy the time to be comfortable with the ball. The game sped up right from the start. Austria were the one on the front foot in the initial few minutes, before Italy eventually asserted their grip on the game. For most parts of the game, Italy were spotted attacking down the wide spaces into Austria’ half, but to no avail. Neither side were allowing their opponents more than 2 or 3 touches on the ball.
Italy, who lined up in a 4-3-3, made three changes in their usual starting XI, with the most notable one being Marco Verratti for Manuel Locatelli in midfield. Giorgio Chiellini and Alessandro Florenzi were out with injuries and had to be replaced by Francesco Acerbi and Giovanni Di Lorenzo in defense.
Franco Foda deployed his side in the usual 4-2-3-1, with skipper David Alaba playing at left-back this time around. Their starting XI showcased Bundesliga involvement, as nine players out of the eleven playerd in the German top flight in the 2020-21 season.
Austria’s pressure started to take a toll on Italy in the second half, when their tenacity simply did not subside. Arnautovic’s goal, which was eventually disallowed for offside, is prime example of Italy’s struggles.
However, the Italian supremacy bloomed up late as their substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina registered themselves on the score-line into extra time. Austria did manage to pull one back, but it was too late.