London (AFP) – Spain coach Luis Enrique is hoping Wembley will be filled by Spanish and Italian expatriates for Tuesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final after fans travelling to England were offered no exemption from strict quarantine rules.
A crowd of 60,000 will be permitted for both semi-finals and the final at the home of English football as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
However, England stand to have a huge advantage for their semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday and potentially in the final with travelling supporters required to quarantine.
An exemption has been made for up to 2,500 VIPs after an agreement was reached between UEFA and the British government.
“It is a strange situation. I hope that tomorrow there are Spanish and Italians more than English fans, but they are things we cannot control,” said Luis Enrique on Monday.
“I am not going to waste any energy on it. We wish it was different but we accept it.”
The Spanish Football Federation even sent out a plea to English fans to support their side with a social media campaign titled: “We need you!”
Italy have stormed into the last four on the back of a 32-game unbeaten run stretching back to 2018.
By contrast, Spain have won just one of their five games at Euro 2020 in 90 minutes as they needed extra-time to see off Croatia in the last 16 and penalties to get past Switzerland in the quarter-finals.
However, just getting to the last four is seen as a justification for Luis Enrique’s bold decisions as he jettisoned former captain Sergio Ramos before the tournament.
The former Barcelona boss has plenty of history with Italy as a player and coach.
His nose was splattered by a vicious elbow from Mauro Tassotti as Italy won a contentious World Cup quarter-final 2-1 in 1994.
Seventeen years later his senior coaching career began in Serie A with Roma, where he lasted only one season.
But he insisted he has no hard feelings towards the Azzurri.
“It’s so many years ago now, I think my nose looks better,” he added on the Tassotti incident.
“I have been able to speak to Mauro Tassotti three or four times over the years and I always found an honest and good person.
“It is part of the past, our football history, both of us wish it could have been different. I have great memories of my time in Italy, this is a great match in the semi-finals and the rest is left in history.”