Italy fullback Leonardo Spinazzola reportedly ruptured his Achilles Tendon during his nation’s recent victory over Belgium in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. The 28-year-old has been one of the standout performers of the competition so far, winning two “Star of the match” awards, which are awarded to the best player of the game. His injury will undoubtedly hurt Italy, who lack depth in terms of fullbacks.
Injury Rules Leonardo Spinazzola Out of the Rest of Euro 2020
Spinazzola’s Impact on the Side
As one of the rare inverted wingbacks in the world, Spinazzola often surprises his opponent by cutting in on his right foot, contrary to how traditional left-footed left-backs usually look to go wide and cross. This allowed Lorenzo Insigne to take a wider position on the field and run at an isolated fullback. The combination between the two of them has been a real problem for all the teams Italy have faced, including Belgium who had to switch from a back three to a back four at halftime to respond to Italy’s unrelenting attacks. As an ex-winger converted to a defender, Spinazzola also has the technical ability to take on his man and create good goalscoring opportunities. Ciro Immobile’s goal against Turkey was a rebound off a good shot from the left-back.
With Roma, Spinazzola’s defensive difficulties were very apparent at times, as the 28-year-old was new to that position, having been deployed as a winger at Juventus. He often found himself out of position or not marking his man correctly. Whether it was the defensive system with Italy or the help of very experienced defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Spinazzola seemed like a whole new player in that backline. His awareness allowed him to intercept passes and block shots, robbing Lukaku of a glorious opportunity to score in the 60th minute to keep his side in front. Surprisingly, Italy’s number four is statistically the fastest player of Euro 2020, with his fastest sprint clocking in at 33.8 km/h.
Injuries Keep Piling Up for Spinazzola
Spinazzola has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. While playing for Atalanta, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, sidelining him for 152 days. Further, from September 2017 to October 2018, the left-back was injured for 260 days. Ever since, the Italian has struggled to stay fit for a whole year. In the 2020/21 season, Spinazzola missed 17 games for Roma due to thigh and calf injuries. This new Achilles issue will probably keep him from playing for 4 to 6 months. New boss José Mourinho will have to make a decision: trust youngster Riccardo Calafiori as the first choice left-back or use the transfer market to bring in a new starter.
As for Italy, Roberto Mancini will have to rely on Emerson Palmieri from now on. The Chelsea man has played very few games this season being Ben Chilwell’s backup. He did however seem reliable against Wales, playing the full 90 minutes.
Spinazzola’s injury could not have come at a worse time, with the fullback being in the form of his life. Despite his absence from the rest of the competition, Italy are still one of the favourites to win it all. Fans across the world will be waiting to see the impact of this incident on Italy’s clash with Spain in the semi-finals.