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Italy and Spain play each other in the Euro 2020 semifinal tonight, and it’s expected to be a massive battle between two heavyweight rivals.
Chelsea skipper Cesar Apzilicueta has proven time and again that he’s not one to back down from a challenge, neither is he one to be written off easily.
For reasons best known to Spain’s bosses, Apzilicueta hasn’t been called up to the Spanish national team since 2019, despite all his contributions to the Chelsea team.
The 31-year-old right-back was a surprise call-up for the Euros, as he hadn’t been involved in the qualifying games, but Luis Enrique decided to include him, probably after seeing him win the Champions League with Chelsea. Albeit, he was only deemed as a squad member.
After missing the first two games, Enrique knew he needed leaders and hearts in the Spanish team, and had to call on Cesar for the final group game which coincided with Spain getting their first win of the tournament – a 5-0 win over Slovakia.
Azpilicueta has led Spain from the back without the captain’s armband, and Enrique will be looking up to him against the Italians this time around.
We look back at a comment Jose Mourinho made of Azpilicueta back in 2014.
“Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot,” Mourinho said. “I think a team with 11 Azpilicuetas probably could win the competition because football is not just about the pure talent.
“Football is also about character and personality and Azpilicueta has all those traces of a winning personality.”