Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged Juventus have to sharpen up in front of goal following their 2-0 Serie A win over toothless Genoa on Sunday.

Juventus were in dominant form at Allianz Stadium – tallying 27 shots – but a combination of superb goalkeeping from Genoa's Salvatore Sirigu and wasteful finishing ensured the scoreline did not truly reflect the hosts' superiority.

Such was Juve's dominance, Genoa finished the game with an expected goals return of zero after failing to register a single shot – the club are yet to score in the four games since Andriy Shevchenko was named head coach.

It was the first time Juve have not faced a shot in a game in Serie A since Opta started collecting such data in 2004.

Sirigu's 10 saves was the joint-most made by a goalkeeper in a single match in the top five European leagues this season, with Allegri accepting his side need to be more ruthless.

"I think we wanted to reinforce our position when it comes to percentage of scoring opportunities converted into goals," the Juve head coach jokingly told DAZN. "We're the worst in Serie A, I think, so wanted to consolidate those statistics!

"I enjoyed watching the team play this evening, as I have done in other games, even when we lost. We can only improve our effectiveness in front of goal, that’s for sure."

Allegri was involved in a heated exchange of words with forward Alvaro Morata when he was hauled off for Moise Kean in the 73rd minute, moments after receiving a yellow card for dissent.

The Juve boss did not expand on the specifics of their row, but said the Spain international was brought off for his own good.

"He was booked and he was continuing to argue and so I preferred to take him off," added Allegri.

"It's disappointing as Alvaro had played well and so did the whole team."

The victory was Allegri's 250th in Serie A (150th with Juventus), making him just the second coach to reach that landmark in the competition in the three-points-per-win era, after Carlo Ancelotti (275).

It marked Juve's fourth win in five Serie A games, yet they are still seven points adrift of fourth-placed Atalanta.

Allegri is not throwing the towel in yet, though, insisting Juve will keep fighting on all fronts this season.

"At this moment, we are fifth along with Fiorentina," he said. "It was important to win today; the top four are doing very well and currently deserve their positions. I don't know what will happen at the end of the season, if things will change.

"We have our objectives, in Serie A, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia, so we'll get there step by step, one game at a time."

Juve, who have already qualified for the Champions League knock-out stage, wrap up their Group H campaign at home to Malmo on Wednesday before a trip to Venezia in Serie A on Saturday.

Luis Enrique said Spain's automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has "taken a big weight" off his shoulders.

Alvaro Morata's late goal helped Spain clinch a 1-0 win over Sweden in Seville on Sunday and secured top spot in Group B of European qualifying.

Sweden will go into a play-off next March to reach the tournament while Spain can begin preparations for their 12th consecutive World Cup finals.

Only Brazil (all 21), Germany (18) and Argentina (13) have qualified for more consecutive tournaments than Spain, who have reached every finals since 1978.

"Today has been a very beautiful day. We have suffered a lot, but the players have had faith and have taken their deserved prize," Spain head coach Luis Enrique told a media conference.

"It is an excellent group of players. Not only the 25 who are here but all those who have been coming. 

"We are already in the World Cup and to be honest I have taken a big weight off my shoulders.

"I have felt much more pressure in these last games than in the European Championships or in the Nations League. 

"When you have to achieve something that seems easy or you have to do it because of history, you put pressure on yourself.

"We have worked on the psychological aspect and we have transmitted to the players the necessary confidence. We have generated enough to win the game."

Morata has played 50 games for Spain in all competitions since his debut in November 2014 against Belarus and since then he has netted 23 goals for La Roja.

His winner against Sweden after coming on as a substitute means he has 10 more goals than any of his compatriots during that time and Luis Enrique hailed his impact for La Roja.

He said: "There is not a player that represents more than Morata overcoming adversity and criticism. 

"Morata is always available to help. He is a very versatile player."

Morata acknowledged it is unthinkable for Spain, who won the World Cup in 2010, to not qualify for the tournament.

"Spain has to be in all the World Cups," Morata told RTVE.

"We have worked a lot to achieve the goal.  We have also had bad times together, now every time there are more nerves and more emotion.

"I needed to qualify for the World Cup and win, we are a great group and we deserve to be in the World Cup and we will be there."

Spain qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a tense 1-0 victory over Sweden that was secured by Alvaro Morata's late winner.

Sweden needed to win in Seville on Sunday to top Group B but will go into the play-offs instead after Luis Enrique's home side saw out a nervy final match of their qualifying campaign to clinch the automatic spot.

Emil Forsberg had two clear-cut goalscoring opportunities for Sweden at the Estadio La Cartuja but was unable to test Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon.

Morata gave Spain victory with a close-range strike on the rebound with four minutes of the game left after Dani Olmo had seen his effort hit the crossbar.

Massimiliano Allegri was frustrated Juventus did not settle for a point against Sassuolo on Wednesday, instead leaving themselves open to concede a late winner as they chased one of their own. 

Juve lost 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium, their first defeat in 10 matches in all competitions and their first home reverse at the hands of Sassuolo. 

The Bianconeri had recovered from Davide Frattesi's first-half opener, as Weston McKennie headed in with 14 minutes to play. 

But Allegri's men went looking for a decisive second and instead allowed Maxime Lopez space to run through and score in the 95th minute, condemning Juve to their third defeat in 10 Serie A matches this term. 

It was the 13th league goal Juve have conceded this season – their most at this stage of a campaign since 1988-89 – and one of the most frustrating for Allegri. 

The coach, who became the third Juve boss to oversee 200 Serie A games, told a news conference his team "lost our heads" after equalising. 

He added: "We have to have a different management like we had up to the 75th minute. After the equaliser, we were frantic and we lost in the 95th minute. This cannot happen anymore. 

"When you can't win, you must not lose, and maybe this lost point will come to weigh heavy at the end of the season. 

"After the 75th minute, the inertia was over; if you can't score, you don't concede the second goal. Then it is a goal that is also bad to see." 

 

Juve drew 1-1 with Inter on Sunday, with that game providing an example of what Allegri was looking for, even if their equaliser at San Siro came courtesy of a controversial penalty. 

"It's more a mental thing, more a balance that we have to find, knowing that we don't have to be in a hurry, we don't have to be unstable when we play games," Allegri told DAZN. 

"We suffered less on Sunday. In Milan, when we were 1-0 down, we didn't even suffer a counter-attack, and today, at the end, we were immediately counter-attacked. 

"Against Inter, we were more orderly in playing the ball, more relaxed, tonight instead we were unstable after it went to 1-1." 

Federico Chiesa squandered Juve's best opportunities before McKennie's leveller, failing to hit the target with any of his game-high four attempts. He at least had a greater impact than Alvaro Morata, who did not have a single shot. 

Allegri stuck up for Morata, insisting: "Come the end of the season, he will have scored goals and he will surely have won games." 

Juventus' winless start to the Serie A season stretched to a fourth game after they were pegged back in a 1-1 draw with Milan at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Alvaro Morata had opened the scoring inside four minutes with Juve's quickest goal against Milan in Serie A since February 1996, but the Bianconeri could not hold on for a maiden victory.

After inviting pressure onto themselves, the hosts were eventually undone 14 minutes from time when Sandro Tonali whipped a corner into the box and Ante Rebic guided it in off the far post.

Juve have now gone four games without a win to start a Serie A season for just the fourth time in their history and are inside the relegation zone, while Milan move level on points with leaders Inter.

Massimiliano Allegri's side had given their season lift-off with a 3-0 win over Malmo in the Champions League in midweek and two of their goalscorers from that game combined early on against Milan.

Paulo Dybala played Morata through with a smart flick after Juve had defended a corner and the forward rounded off the counter by dinking the ball over Mike Maignan.

Maignan produced a fine save to keep out Morata's next shot and Adrien Rabiot had an even better chance to add a second but could not outpace Fikayo Tomori when played in.

Rabiot could not quite connect with a Leonardo Bonucci pass over the top early in the second period as the half-chances continued to fall Juve's way.

Juve had not kept a clean sheet in the league since March, however, and that poor run continued as Rebic climbed highest to meet Tonali's corner and head in the equaliser from six yards.

Both sides pushed for a winner in a frantic conclusion to the match, with substitute Pierre Kalulu going closest to snatching victory for Milan with a powerful drive that Wojciech Szczesny did well to palm over the bar.

 

Juventus' slow start to life under Massimiliano Allegri continued on Saturday as second-half goals from Matteo Politano and Kalidou Koulibaly saw them lose 2-1 at Napoli.

After being held by Udinese before suffering a shock home defeat to Empoli, it looked like being third time lucky for Allegri in his second spell in charge as Alvaro Morata profited from a terrible Kostas Manolas error to open the scoring early on.

But Napoli responded through a Politano strike shortly before the hour mark after Wojciech Szczesny pushed the ball into the forward's path, and the hosts completed the comeback thanks to Koulibaly's finish five minutes from time.

It is just the second time in 51 Serie A campaigns – the other occasion being in Allegri's first tenure in 2015-16 –  that Juventus have failed to win any of their first three games to a Serie A season.

Napoli started the match on top but found themselves behind against the run of play when Morata caught Manolas in possession and beat David Ospina from a tight angle.

Dejan Kulusevski was denied by a fine Ospina save soon after, although the offside flag would have denied the forward, who was making his first start of the campaign.

Napoli showed good resolve to find an equaliser as a shot by Lorenzo Insigne, making his 400th appearance for the club in all competitions, was parried by Szczesny and Politano reacted quickest to squeeze home.

The hosts always looked the more likely to find a winner in the remaining half an hour and so that proved when Moise Kean's poor defensive header was fumbled by Szczesny for Koulibaly to score from a yard out.

 

Luis Enrique hailed Spain sensation Pedri, comparing the teenager to Barcelona and La Roja great Andres Iniesta following Tuesday's Euro 2020 semi-final loss to Italy.

Italy booked their place in the final with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Spain after the enthralling showdown finished 1-1 at Wembley.

Despite Spain's frustrating outing after substitute Alvaro Morata cancelled out Federico Chiesa's opener, it was a memorable campaign for 18-year-old star Pedri.

Pedri became the first European player in major tournament history (World Cup and Euros) to start as many as six such matches at the age of 18 or below and Luis Enrique lavished the Barcelona midfielder in praise.

"Well I think no 18-year-old has done what Pedri has done in any major competition, whether it's the Euros, the World Cup or the Olympics," Luis Enrique told reporters.

"His performances, the way he reads the game, the way he finds space, his quality, his personality, I've never seen anything like that, not even Andres Iniesta.

"It's absolutely impossible to explain."

Luis Enrique also lauded attacker Dani Olmo, adding: "[He] was absolutely fantastic today, he's a very intelligent player with plenty of quality. He is good between the lines, he picks up the ball well.

"We wanted to starve [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Leonardo] Bonucci of that focal point and I think we did that really well. We wanted to prevent them from doing what they did with [Romelu] Lukaku so it was about creating that four versus three in that area of the pitch. That meant it was going to be difficult for them to take the ball from us.

"We created a lot of chances and I think we were just missing that final step in terms of taking some of our chances. It's very difficult to get the ball off a player like Dani Olmo so I think the players implemented our tactics to perfection. Olmo is a very important player for us because he can play in a range of different situations. He can score goals and he's a very complete footballer."

 

Left out of the starting line-up for the first time this tournament, Morata made an impact from the bench by equalising with 10 minutes remaining in normal time following Chiesa's 60th-minute opener.

Neither side could find a way through in the additional period in what was a repeat of the 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0 for their third European title, though it was Italy who prevailed in Tuesday's enthralling clash.

Morata's penalty was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, paving the way for Jorginho to convert the winning spot-kick, as Italy extended their unbeaten run to 33 games to set up a clash with either England or Denmark in Sunday's final at the same ground. 

Embattled forward Morata has now scored more goals at the European Championships than any other Spain player (six), overtaking Fernando Torres' five goals. In fact, Morata became the first ever Spain player to score for club and country at Wembley.

Morata is also in rarefied company as the second player to scored three or more times in multiple Euros after Cristiano Ronaldo, who has done so on three occasions.

"He has an abductor problem. It really says a lot about his personality that despite that he wanted to take a penalty. He's gone through some tough times during this tournament but he was brilliant," said Luis Enrique.

"He really created a lot of uncertainty in the Italian ranks, he scored of course, so he was excellent. I haven't seen him because he's had to go to doping control. I was able to see Jordi Alba, but I'll go and see him now.

After Spain failed to progress from a semi-final at a major tournament (World Cup and Euros) for the first time in their history, Luis Enrique said: "I'd say that it would be an A- for my players, it would be an A+ had we won. We've been speaking about how we want to play at the Euros for many months.

"The players really bought into that and they did a wonderful job of it. I have no complaints. Really, I just want to congratulate my players. We've shown that we are a team and that we are going to continue doing that. Now it's important for us to rest while the rest of the teams compete and we'll see each other again at future training camps."

Italy will have a shot at their first European title for 53 years after overcoming Spain on penalties in Tuesday's Euro 2020 semi-final.

Four-time world champions Italy were taken to extra-time at Wembley, where Alvaro Morata cancelled out Federico Chiesa's opener to ensure it was 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Neither side could find the breakthrough during the additional half hour and Manuel Locatelli and Dani Olmo failed with the opening penalties for their respective sides.

But Morata turned from hero to villain when Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his tame spot-kick and Jorginho converted to book a final showdown with either England or Denmark.

For Spain, and Morata in particular, this night could have ended up feeling very different indeed.

 

Italy claim the spoils in latest instalment of titanic rivalry

At the expense of their fellow heavyweights, Italy reached the 10th major tournament final and fourth in this competition. Only Germany (14) have competed in more among European nations.

Spain chalked up an unwanted first, having progressed on each of their previous five semi-final appearances at World Cups and European Championships.

Luis Enrique's side went the distance for a third consecutive match after beating Croatia 5-3 in extra time and seeing off Switzerland in a quarter-final shoot-out – equalling the record for the most extra-time periods in a single Euro (Portugal, 2016).

No side have been taken to extra time more often in the history of the competition than Italy (nine).

 

History before heartbreak for Morata

Morata has been a focus of derision for some throughout this tournament and, unfortunately, it looks like there will be plenty more of that to come.

Before kick-off at Wembley it even looked as if Luis Enrique had lost faith.

The Spain boss has been a staunch defender of his main forward in the face of persistent criticism, but opted to go with a fluid front three of Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal.

Morata entered the fray in place of Manchester City forward Torres in the 62nd minute and coolly dispatched Spain's equaliser with 10 to play in normal time.

The Juventus man has now scored more goals at the European Championship than any other Spain player with six, overtaking Fernando Torres.

He is also in rarefied company as the second player to scored three or more times in multiple Euros after Cristiano Ronaldo, who has done so on three occasions.

Playing for Chelsea in 2017-18, Morata scored in a 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Southampton, meaning on Tuesday he became the first Spanish player to net at Wembley for both club and country.

Morata's is a truly accomplished body of work and one he can hopefully take solace in over the tough days and weeks ahead.

 

Chiesa helps Italy to share the load

Roberto Mancini's freewheeling attack were denied their usual joy by Spain during the opening stages.

Left-back Emerson hit the crossbar in the 45th minute – Italy's first shot of the game and their longest wait for an attempt on goal in the tournament.

Indeed, only versus the Netherlands at Euro 2000 have they had to wait so long in the modern era, with the Oranje keeping the Azzurri at bay until the 48th minute.

As in the last 16 against Austria, Chiesa was again on target at Wembley,

That meant Italy became the second team in the European Championship history after winners France at Euro 2000 to have five different players score two or more goals in a single tournament.

Chiesa joined Locatteli, Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Matteo Pessina on two for the competition.

Italy's 12 goals at Euro 2020 is their joint-highest tally at a major tournament alongside the 2006, 1982 and 1934 World Cups. On each of those occasions, they left with the trophy.

 

Perfection for pass master Pedri

Spain outperformed many pre-tournament expectations and in Pedri, they have a potential superstar of the global game for years to come.

The Barcelona midfielder is the first ever player to start six games in a single Euro or World Cup aged 18 or below.

In normal time, Pedri completed all 56 of his passes, including 37 in the Italy half. He became the second player in Euros history to record 100 per cent accuracy after 90 minutes, although France's Samuel Umtiti (76/76 at Euro 2016) probably had an easier route to his statistics from centre-back.

At the end of extra time, he had completed 65 of 67 passes. Nobody's perfect, eh?

Football can be cruel; we know that. But it seems especially mean to Alvaro Morata.

The man who was booed by his own fans, who dragged Spain through against Croatia, was finally dropped for the Euro 2020 semi-final against Italy. A purely tactical choice, but one perhaps at odds with Luis Enrique's hot-blooded defiance towards the naysayers who wanted Morata out of the team.

How amazing it was to see Morata then come off the bench and equalise with 10 minutes to go, bellow a quick "Vamos!" into the camera and get the ball back to the centre-circle. And how inevitable it felt when his tame penalty was saved, as Spain's draining campaign ended at last in another shoot-out.

Morata should not be blamed, though. Rather, Spain's failings in attack have been prevalent throughout. That might sound strange since, before the semi-finals, they were the top-scoring side in the tournament with 12, and they ended it with 13, their best goals return at a single European Championship.

But they should have had more, and not just at Wembley Stadium. They came into the contest with nine scored (excluding penalties and own goals) from 15.6 expected goals. That difference of -3.56 was the worst of any side at these finals. By the end of the semi-final, their tally stood at 10 from an xG of 17.1.

 

They had been looking promising, too. Spain may not have enthralled at these finals – just ask Rafael "they're horrible to watch" van der Vaart – but they mastered that critical art of getting better as the tournament went on.

From the drudgery of two group-stage draws – where they averaged a shot on target for 458 passes against Sweden and then let Poland have a point – La Roja sharpened up. They dismantled Slovakia in the crucial third game and put Croatia to the sword in the last 16 (even if they tried hard to throw it away). In the quarter-final against Switzerland, they fired in 28 shots across 120 minutes and only Yann Sommer's brilliance forced the contest to go to penalties.

In a damp, cool evening in London, against many observers' favourites for the trophy, Spain looked fully warmed up. The passing from midfield was crisp and purposeful; the introduction of Dani Olmo as the false nine left Italy's central trio outnumbered and scrambling after white shirts. Olmo could have scored, and Mikel Oyarzabal really should have, scuffing a shot within reach of Gianluigi Donnarumma. Italy took 45 minutes to attempt a shot, Emerson Palmieri skimming the crossbar from a tight angle.

Even after Federico Chiesa put the Azzurri ahead with an excellent finish after an hour, there was little panic within the Spain ranks. Rather, there was an acceptance, an expectation that chances would come, as they have all tournament. They duly did, Oyarzabal missing the ball when a simple headed finish presented itself, and Olmo fizzing a shot wide. Ultimately, it was Morata who went from scrutinised starter to super-sub, turning in midfield, exchanging passes with Olmo and leaving Donnarumma dumbfounded with a clinical finish.

 

Perhaps inevitably, though, it was on Spain's midfielders that everything rested. The game seemed to ebb and flow depending on which of them had the ball at any given moment. The three were like brothers from the same footballing lineage: teenager Pedri, experienced Koke, veteran Busquets. They certainly kept the ball like a family secret. Pedri completed all 56 of his passes before extra time; Busquets only misplaced four of his throughout. You'd be forgiven for thinking Koke played for Barcelona, such was his understanding with the Catalan duo.

Yet midfield control wasn't enough. At Euro 2020, it has never been enough for them. It would be unfair to suggest Italy were playing for penalties but, as soon as they came, you felt there was only one winner. Giorgio Chiellini laughed, jostled and bear-hugged Jordi Alba at the pre-shoot-out coin toss. He seemed to know. Morata did, too, the Juventus striker nodding ruefully after Donnarumma guessed right to save his spot-kick. And everyone in Wembley and around the world knew Jorginho would bury the winner.

Few had any clear idea about what Spain would achieve at these finals. Luis Enrique proved he can cultivate a strong-minded squad and navigate the rigours of a tournament; even his infamously poor relationship with the national press should not detract from a positive few weeks. They look a realistic bet for at least the latter stages of the World Cup next year.

But those concerns in attack will only grow if they cannot become a more ruthless side between now and November 2022. Like their immaculate midfield, Spain are building, patiently, expertly, but without knowing quite where it will lead.

Spain's penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy will live long in the memory of Alvaro Morata for all the wrong reasons after his crucial failure from the spot, but La Roja wouldn't have even got to extra-time without the maligned striker's historic goal.

Roberto Mancini's Azzurri appeared to be heading to the final thanks to Federico Chiesa's gorgeous opener, but Morata – a second-half substitute – levelled in the 80th minute to force extra-time.

Morata had been dropped from the starting XI after being withdrawn early in the second half of the quarter-final against Switzerland.

Although the forward, on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, had been a regular source of frustration in Euro 2020, with his six Opta-defined big chances missed being more than any other player at the tournament, that decision still came as something as a surprise given Luis Enrique's staunch backing of him.

The coach was seemingly banking on the dynamism of Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal causing issues for Italy's aging centre-back pairing, but with Spain chasing the game he turned to the much-maligned striker.

Morata vindicated his introduction, with his fine goal taking him to three for Euro 2020 and six in all European Championship tournaments, setting a new record for La Roja.

His confident left-footed finish moves Morata ahead of Fernando Torres in that regard, while it also made him only the second player in Euros history to score three or more in multiple editions of the competition after Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Morata saw his spot-kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the shoot-out, the Italy goalkeeper diving to his left to easily keep the feeble attempt at bay. Jorginho coolly swept home his effort a few moments later to send the Azzurri into the final.

 

Alvaro Morata went from hero to zero at Wembley after rescuing extra time for Spain before missing a penalty in the shoot-out as Italy booked their place in the Euro 2020 final.

The Juventus loanee was left out of Spain's starting line-up for the first time this tournament but made an impact from the bench by cancelling out Federico Chiesa's superb curled opener 10 minutes from time as the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Neither side could find a way through in the additional period in what was a repeat of the 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0 for their third European title, though it was Italy who prevailed in Tuesday's enthralling clash.

Morata's penalty was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, paving the way for Jorginho to convert the winning spot-kick in a 4-2 shoot-out triumph, as Italy extended their unbeaten run to 33 games to set up a clash with either England or Denmark in Sunday's final at the same ground. 

Alvaro Morata has been dropped to the bench for Spain's Euro 2020 semi-final against Italy at Wembley.

The 28-year-old Juventus striker had started all five of Spain's matches at the tournament, scoring twice – including a vital extra-time strike in the dramatic 5-3 win over Croatia in the round of 16.

But Morata has also endured a tough time in front of goal, missing a penalty during the 5-0 rout of Slovakia.

Of his 16 non-penalty attempts in the tournament, seven have been on target and he is under-performing an expected goals (xG) tally of 3.16, as per Opta.

Luis Enrique has staunchly defended the former Atletico and Real Madrid player but substituted him after 54 minutes of the quarter-final against Switzerland.

Gerard Moreno was his replacement in St Petersburg but the Villareal striker went on to endure a similarly wasteful outing and Luis Enrique has opted for a mobile front three without a specialist centre-forward, with Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal starting alongside Ferran Torres.

That means Pablo Sarabia misses out, alongside Gerard's club team-mate Pau Torres, who is replaced at centre-back by Eric Garcia.

Italy boss Roberto Mancini makes the one expected change to the XI that beat Belgium, with Chelsea left-back Emerson coming in for Leonardo Spinazzola, whose magnificent tournament was cut short by a ruptured Achilles.

This is the fourth consecutive European Championship meeting between Italy and Spain, with the latter winning a quarter-final penalty shoot-out in 2008 before swaggering to a dominant 4-0 final win at Euro 2012.

Italy, under Antonio Conte, gained a measure of revenge with a 2-0 last-16 triumph in Paris at Euro 2016.

Alvaro Morata may not have been prolific in terms of goals at Euro 2020 but his selfless work for the team is vital for Spain, according to Gaizka Mendieta.

Striker Morata has scored twice to help Luis Enrique's side reach the semi-finals of the tournament, though his failure to capitalise on the opportunities that have come his way has led to criticism.

Indeed, the 28-year-old has been booed by his own fans both before and during the European Championship, while his family have been targeted for abuse too.

Yet former Spain international Mendieta feels Morata's team-mates appreciate all he does for the cause, even if his finishing has let him down at times. From 15 attempts, he has a shot conversion rate of 13.33 per cent.

An expected goals total of 3.95 highlights a shortcoming for the former Chelsea and Real Madrid player in front of goal, yet he has started every game ahead of the last-four clash with Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.

Gerard Moreno – an alternative option to lead the line in place of Morata – has yet to score at the European Championship from 15 shots, while Dani Olmo has been unsuccessful with all of his 16 attempts. The problem for La Roja in general has been taking chances, rather than creating them.

"I think people are being very critical," Mendieta told Stats Perform. "I believe Morata is a player who gives a lot to the team in terms of work, mobility, keeping the ball and creating spaces for midfielders and wingers like Olmo, [Ferran] Torres or even Moreno.

"I think he is doing a great job and that's one of the main reasons he is in the team. Of course, he is a striker and you expect goals from him and unfortunately it is where he has been unlucky.

"He hasn't finished the chances he had and that's what has made noise.

"Beyond this, I think the team is grateful for his work. He is the first one realising he should improve scoring and creating chances and I am sure he is working on it.

"Those critics are understandable, but his efforts are respected."

 

Luis Enrique has been unequivocal in his support of Morata, describing the abuse directed at the player and his family as a "serious crime" as he called for the authorities to take action.

The Spain boss has steered the team through choppy waters at Euro 2020. Having opened the campaign with two dour draws, the 2012 winners found their scoring touch in a 5-0 thrashing of Slovakia to qualify behind Sweden from Group E.

A wild last-16 clash with Croatia eventually went Spain's way after extra time, while a penalty shoot-out was required to see off Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

Mendieta, however, feels Luis Enrique has created an environment where his players are able to respond to any match situation, good or bad.

"He gives value to the player in order to make him part of the plan," he said of the former Barcelona head coach.

"I think that is reflected on the pitch; a common idea but at the same time it is the player who needs to find solutions. The coach cannot do that for them on the pitch.

"That's why I think the Spain team had a great reaction in tough times in some games. Especially in the group stage, in the last game. They are a team with a great character, just like Luis Enrique himself."

Euro 2020 is disappearing before our eyes, with the delayed tournament somehow already at the business end as we head into the final three matches.

It's been a thrill ride since the very beginning. From Italy making a sparkling start and Denmark rallying after Christian Eriksen's medical emergency, to France falling at the last 16 and England reaching the semi-finals of a second successive major tournament.

Italy, England, Spain and Denmark are all that's left as Euro 2020 enters its final week, and at this point it seems particularly tricky to call, particularly between first three.

But, given how integral statistics are to football these days, data can potentially give you edge when attempting to predict certain outcomes, and this is where Stats Perform's Artificial Intelligence team comes in as they've used Opta's extensive data reserves to quantify each semi-finalist's chances of winning tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform Euros Prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances and also takes into consideration the strength of each side's opponents.

The games are then simulated 40,000 times and analysed, providing the AI team with a percentage for each nation, showing the probability of them ultimately lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11.

Without any further ado, let's take a look at the results…

Denmark (8.8 per cent chance of winning Euro 2020)

The fact Denmark even got out of their group was an achievement in itself as they became the first team to ever reach the knockout phase having lost their opening two matches. Yet, here we are.

The Danes are into the last four for the first time since winning the competition in 1992 and have really hit their stride since their two early defeats, with only Spain (12) outscoring Kasper Hjulmands' men until this point (11) – that haul is the most they've ever managed at a major tournament.

 

Denmark have projected a real sense of unity since Eriksen collapsed against Finland, and it's hard to believe they will fear anyone at this point.

Nevertheless, England should represent trickier opposition than the likes of Wales and the Czech Republic, which is perhaps reflected by the fact their 8.8 per cent chance of winning the title is the lowest of the four remaining teams.

But if standout performers such as Joakim Maehle, Simon Kjaer and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg continue to deliver the goods, who's to say they cannot emulate the 1992 vintage?

 

Spain (23.1 per cent)

Luis Enrique's Spain have been a fascinating watch at Euro 2020, partly because they somehow manage to flitter between exceptional and unrefined. Their erratic nature has become one of the sideshows of the tournament.

For example, only the Netherlands (53) have forced more high turnovers than Spain, while La Roja are the sole side to break the 100 barrier in terms of sequences of 10 or more passes (147). They only allow their opponents 8.3 passes on average in the defensive third before they initiate a defensive action, indicating they are the most intense pressers at the tournament, and their haul of 12 goals is more than anyone else.

 

Yet, their xGA (expected goals against) of 6.8 is comfortably the worst of the four teams left, and their xG underperformance of 3.6 is the biggest of all 24 teams. In short, these points suggest that not only have Spain been lucky to only concede five times, they are also the most wasteful team at Euro 2020.

 

That's obviously not helped by the fact Gerard Moreno (no goals from 3.3 xG) and Alvaro Morata (two goals from 3.95 xG) are among the three players with the worst xG underperformance records in the competition.

However, they've got this far and have still crafted plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, with their record of 25 big chances a tournament-high. If the penny drops with Spain's forwards and they start to convert in line with their xG, they could have real joy.

 

England (29.1 per cent)

It would be fair to say England's performances in the group stage, although not alarming, certainly didn't inspire a huge amount of confidence as they scored just two goals. But in the two games since, they have netted six times and attracted significant acclaim.

The fact they don't necessarily stand out in many specific team metrics (perhaps bar 10+ passing sequences – 98, second to Spain) is arguably partly down to how flexible Gareth Southgate's team have been in their approach to specific games. For example, their passes per defensive action (PPDA) dropped from 13.7 against Scotland to 25.9 against Germany, suggesting they were concerned about the German midfield playing through their press and instead sat back more in order to cut off passing routes.

Of course, adapting to your opponents is hardly revolutionary, most teams do it to a certain extent, but in a tournament where Spain and Italy have almost religiously stuck to principals and formations that govern their setups, England have chopped and changed.

 

It's clearly worked as well given the fact the Three Lions have equalled a major-tournament record of five successive clean sheets, while their 2.95 xGA (with no goals conceded) leads the way at Euro 2020.

With their defence seemingly watertight and Harry Kane finding some confidence with three goals in two games, England look in great shape. If our prediction model took into consideration that all of the remaining games are to be at Wembley, they'd likely be a bit closer to top spot.

 

Italy (38.9 per cent)

It seems like a long time ago now that Italy came into Euro 2020 as – some claimed at the time – unknown quantities. The common conception was that their 27-match unbeaten run coming into the tournament was misleading because most of the games were said to have been against sub-optimal opposition.

Well, they are now at 32 games unbeaten having won or drawn all of their five matches to this point at Euro 2020, setting a new national record in the process.

But, more than that, they've been utterly joyful to watch. They are relentless in attack, as highlighted by their tournament-leading shot (11) and goal-ending high turnovers (three), but also impressive at the back having only conceded one non-penalty goal.

 

Built around a solid core of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella that expertly blends craft and guile arguably unlike any team at Euro 2020, Roberto Mancini's turned Italy into a side that's not only been generally fun to watch, but also effective.

Spain represent a completely different challenge to any other side Italy have faced thus far, yet Luis Enrique's men have afforded their opponents plenty of chances. The Azzurri have been consistent throughout in attack, as demonstrated by their 11 goals from 10.3 xG. Without the one own goal in their favour, it would be 10 from 10.3 xG.

 

Italy have shown no major weaknesses en route to the semi-finals, and as such our model suggests it is they who have the greatest chance of success this week.

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci leapt to the defence of Juventus team-mate and embattled Spain forward Alvaro Morata ahead of their Euro 2020 semi-final showdown.

Spain's Morata has been on the wrong end of criticism for his performances at Euro 2020, while he reportedly received death threats amid online abuse directed at his family.

Team-mates at club level for Juve in Serie A, Bonucci and Morata will face-off when Italy play Spain in Tuesday's Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley and the former heaped praise on the 28-year-old Spaniard.

"I was really struck by what happened to him and what we all have to go through," Bonucci said of the death threats directed at Morata. "I've also had to go through what he has gone through, and I know what it's like to read certain things and feel certain things as well.

"I've always been right behind him, he's always had my support. Alvaro is a wonderful person, he is a great guy, a wonderful father, and a terrific footballer.

"He's a complete striker, because he can run into space high up the pitch, makes late runs, holds the ball up well. He's one of the best strikers in world football, thankfully at club football he is a team-mate of mine over the course of the season.

"We need to make sure we are switched on tomorrow [Tuesday], not only to keep an eye on Morata but the team as a whole."

Spain are the highest scoring team at Euro 2020, with 12 goals from five games, including two strikes via Morata.

Bonucci was pressed on comparisons between Morata and Inter star Romelu Lukaku, whom Italy faced in the quarter-finals with Belgium.

"They are two top strikers," the 34-year-old Bonucci said. "When you get to this level, this stage of the competition, all the countries you come up against and all of the strikers you face are terrific.

"Alvaro has some very specific qualities that are different attributes to what Lukaku is all about. We need to be very switched on in terms of fine margins and small details, to make sure we really can come away with a big result."

Italy – riding a national record 32-game unbeaten streak – have only beaten Spain twice in their past 14 meetings in all competitions (D7 L5), a 2-1 friendly win in 2011 and, most recently, a 2-0 victory at Euro 2016 in the last 16, with goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle.

The Azzurri are featuring in their 12th semi-final at a major tournament (Euros and World Cup), with only Germany (20) appearing at the final-four stage more often among all European sides.

Italy have progressed from nine of the previous 11 semi-final ties, including each of the past four – most recently in this competition in 2012 when they eventually lost in the final to Spain (4-0).

Roberto Mancini's Italy have won all five of their matches at Euro 2020, the only side of the remaining final four with a 100 per cent record to date. Only at the World Cup (1990) have they won more games at a single major tournament (six), while the only European team to win each of their first six games at a major tournament was the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup, when they suffered defeat to Spain in the final in South Africa.

But Bonucci played down the favourites tag, telling reporters: "I think when its Italy against Spain in a European Championship semi-final, there's no such thing as a favourite. Yes, we have had a flawless run so far, but even though Spain have faced some issues, that doesn't matter, we need to put it to one side.

"We really need to focus on what we need to do, where we can improve. We simply need to be motivated by the fact we're coming up against such a great, prestigious side in a wonderful arena such as Wembley, in the knowledge we can make it to the final in a few days' time."

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