The Italy Men’s National Team have work to do if they are to advance to the knockout rounds of the 2024 European Championship after a 1-0 Group B loss against an impressive Spain on Thursday.

In truth, things would have been a lot worse for an off-the-pace Italy side had it not been for the efforts of captain Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.

The Azzurri remain on three points in their Euro 2024 after their opening win against Albania, and will go into their final group game against Croatia on Monday, June 24.

A nervy start saw Italy‘s defensive unit left wide open more than once, with Spain having two free headers six yards from goal within the opening 10 minutes, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo struggled to get anywhere near Nico Williams who consistently beat the Napoli captain with ease.

Riccardo Calafiori was unfortunate to turn the ball into his own goal to hand Spain the opener, though it’s hard to point any fingers of blame at the Bologna centre-back, who was without a doubt the best Italian defender on the pitch.

Italy player ratings vs Spain at Euro 2024

Italy Euro 2024
Italy’s Lorenzo Pellegrini and Riccardo Calafiori battle for the ball. [@Azzurri_En]

Donnarumma 7; Di Lorenzo 3, Bastoni 4.5, Calafiori 6, Dimarco 5; Jorginho 5.5 (46′ Cristante 4), Barella 6; Chiesa 5 (64′ Zaccagni 5), Frattesi 5 (46′ Cambiaso 5), Pellegrini 5 (82′ Raspadori N/R); Scamacca 5 (64′ Retegui 5).

Italy Player of the Match – Gianluigi Donnarumma

Gianluigi Donnarumma with the Italy Men’s National Team. (Azzurri_en)

Gianluigi Donnarumma hasn’t always been the most popular player in the Italy squad, but the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper showed every bit of his worth against Spain.

The Azzurri could have conceded twice in the first ten minutes in Gelsenkirchen, but Donnarumma was alert to make a good early save to keep out Pedri, and was called into action to deny Alvaro Morata twice and Fabian Ruiz.

He was unlucky on the opening goal as his touch only forced the ball onto Calafiori‘s shin, which in turn diverted it into the back of the net, but neither the ‘keeper nor centre-back could be held responsible for the goal going in.

Had it not been for Donnarumma between the posts, things would have been a lot worse for Italy against a Spain side who looked to be in a completely different league to the Azzurri.