Defending champions Italy knocked out of Euro 2024

Italy after the final whistle

 ROME -- Defending champions Italy were knocked out of Euro 2024 by Switzerland, who beat the Azzurri 0-2 in Berlin.

 The last time Italy played in Berlin, they won the World Cup. The hopes of many Italian fans entering the match were high, however Italy proved a whimper as a stunning Ruben Vargas strike capped an impressive victory for Switzerland.

 The Swiss dominated the match, opening the first half with a powerful perfomance. The Italians were on the back foot for the majority of the half, rarely getting the ball beyond the half way line. The first chance for Italy came with Federico Chiesa's cross which was easily deflected by the Swiss defenders. However, the first real chance for either team came for the Swiss in the 24th minute when Breel Embolo broke through Italy's offside trap and curled a shot at Gianliugi Donnarumma who just managed to deflect it. The Azzurri seemed to lose energy, with both Barella and Bastoni both giving the ball away to the Swiss in matters of minutes. 

 The breakthrough the Swiss had been looking for came in the 37th minute when Remo Freuler volleyed the ball into the back of the net with his second touch of the game. The goal meant that for the fourth consecutive game, Italy went behind. The attacks kept coming, however saves from Donnarumma denied the Swiss any more opportunities to score in the first half which ended 0-1. 

 Just 30 seconds into the second half, Vargas found himself in a pocket of space on the edge of the Italy box and curled a right foot shot beyond Donnarumma into the top corner. This marked the first time in 19 major tournament games that the Azzurri had been behind than more than one goal. 

 The best chance for Italy came in the second half as Gianluca Scamacca hit the woodwork with an effort from five yards out. But it was their only moment of note in a match when Luciano Spalletti’s side had no response to Switzerland’s intensity, struggling to beat their opponents’ press and registering just one shot on target.

 Defeat in the Round of 16 for the Azzurri ends their hopes of defending their Euro crown, losing to Switzerland for the first time at a major tournament since 1954. The Swiss, meanwhile, qualified for their second consecutive Euros quarter-final.

 Speaking after the match Spalletti labelled the perfomance "sub par." However, he did not want to be seen as "looking for excuses" to explain Italy's defeat and that the "responsibility" for what happened was "always" his. Spalletti mentioned the fact he had only managed the Azzurri for 10 games before the Euros tournament and added that many players he was "counting on" suffered injuries. Talking about the future of the Italian team, he said that they "need more physicality" instead of relying on "quality" and highlighted the fact that the team to need strengthen their "foundations that [they] can build upon."

 Elsewhere in the knockout stages, hosts Germany knocked out 2021's semi finalists Denmark with a 2-0 victory. 

Ruben Vargas's second half strike sealed an impressive Switzerland win over a lacklustre Italy