​Italy’s victory over Spain came as a shock, with pre-tournament conjecture pointing out an Italian side that was apparently going to have little impact. Knocking out the holders of the title has instead, highlighted an Italian team with heart and determination.

Sunderland’s Emanuele Giaccherini has claimed some credit over the victory by announcing that his pre-match team talk had a positive impact on the Italians. He has played a solid role in victories over the much fancied Belgium and Spain, yet is set to leave Sunderland permanently after a loan spell with Bologna. 

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Giaccherini told ​Sky Italia that, “Today I made the speech to the players before the game, telling them we needed heart because tactics can only take you so far, and we had heart. A different player makes the pre-match speech every time, as we are a group and everyone plays their part.”

Italy went ahead thanks to a first-half goal from Georgio Cheillini, the big defender quickest to react as David De Gea fumbled. The Spanish goalkeeper was forced into some world-class saves as Italy dominated a flustered Spain. 

Giaccherini had heaps of praise for the veteran Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who saved a Gerard Pique header in the dying moments saying, ““Buffon is still the best goalkeeper in the world. He did not have to do a lot, but he made a huge difference for us.”

Italy have a difficult quarter-final fixture, and must overcome Germany if they wish to progress. It will be interesting to see how effective Giaccherini’s pearls of wisdom are ahead of that game. 

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