Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci is taking nothing for granted when he comes up against Juventus team-mate Alvaro Morata in their Euro 2020 semi-final.
The Spain striker has been the target for much criticism in his homeland due to his relatively poor form with two goals in five matches at the finals, a disappointing return for the number of chances he gets.
Bonucci saw Morata score 19 goals while on loan at Juve from Atletico Madrid last season and while he has every sympathy for what his club-mate has had to endure with offensive messages on social media, the veteran defender will not treat him differently to any other opponent at Wembley.
“Alvaro is a friend of mine, we often spend a lot of time together in Turin and I was really struck by what happened to him and what we all have to go through,” he told a pre-match press conference.
“I’ve had to go through what he went through and I know what it’s like to read and feel certain things as well
“I’ve always been right behind him. He’s always had my support. He’s a great guy and a terrific footballer, a complete striker because he can run into space, he holds the ball up well.
“He is one of the best centre-forwards in world football and we need to make sure we are switched on tomorrow, not only to keep an eye on Morata but the team as a whole.”
Bonucci and his centre-back partner Giorgio Chiellini are the only survivors from the chastening 4-0 defeat in the final of Euro 2012 when Spain became the first side to win back-to-back European Championships.
The final in Kiev leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth
The tables are turned slightly as Italy are the form team at this tournament while Spain have been unconvincing but the veteran defender does not believe either factor will have a bearing in this encounter.
“The final in Kiev (in 2012) leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth because we were all out of puff by the time we got to that game,” he added.
“We were short on ideas and short on energy. That was a fair result on what we saw that day.
“Tomorrow will be a very open game and both sides will want to play their own game.”
Spain coach Luis Enrique also disputes there is a favourite for the game as he maintains his side is still getting better as they progress.
Their performances have been inconsistent and unconvincing so far and while that may have attracted criticism, the former Barcelona and Roma boss is unmoved.
“We arrived very confident and with room for improvement. Saying who is the favourite seems very daring to me,” he told Spanish media at their training camp just outside Madrid before travelling to London.
“Asking for a grade while you’re still taking the exam…it’s better to wait. The grade is the least of it.
“Even if we had lost on penalties against Switzerland (in the quarter-finals), I would have thought the team was outstanding.
“We are in the last part of the exam; we don’t want to know the grade until the end.”
Paris St Germain midfielder Pablo Sarabia, who has started in all three of Spain’s victories at the tournament so far and has scored twice, will miss the semi-final with a muscle strain.
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