Goalkeepers Union in Berlin go head-to-head - Donnarumma and Sommer talk penalty pressure ahead of last 16 tie

Yann Sommer of Switzerland makes a save during the EURO 2024 match against Scotland in Cologne

Yann Sommer of Switzerland makes a save during the EURO 2024 match against Scotland in Cologne Credit: Ryan Pierse/UEFA/Getty Images

Macdara Ferris reports from the Olympiastadion in Berlin

While both the Swiss and Italian managers outlined their hopes that their own team would win the last 16 tie in 90 or 120 minutes, thoughts did turn to penalty kicks ahead of Saturday’s knockout game in Berlin.

That is what will happen when you are playing in the venue where Italy won the 2006 World Cup Final on spot kicks with Gianluigi Buffon, part of the current Italian coaching ticket, on the winning team.

Throw in bringing two world class goalkeepers to your press conference on the eve of a knock out game, then penalty discussion was quick to happen. 

In one goal is Italian skipper Gianluigi Donnarumma, title winner with PSG the past three seasons, who pulled off two penalty shootout saves in the EURO 2020 final against England to help Italy become champions of Europe.

He won the player of the tournament at that European Championship and has already saved a penalty – from Luca Modric – in EURO 2024. 

In the other goal is Yann Sommer, title winner with Bayern in 2022/23 and Inter in 2023/24, whose penalty shootout heroics at EURO 2020 saw Switzerland stun then World Cup holders France in the last 16 (although they subsequently lost to Spain on spotkicks in the next round).


The 25-year-old Italian captain joked about helping his teammates by letting “them all score in training to build up their confidence!”.

He outlined that his team have “tested out who might step up and take a penalty” and that he has “studied and analysed things and looked at certain situations with the goalkeeping coach.”

That Italian goalkeeper coach is Gianluca Spinelli, who Donnarumma previously worked with at PSG and who is now the Inter coach working with Yann Sommer. “Spinelli has spoken in glowing terms (about Sommer),” confirmed Donnarumma.


Meanwhile Sommer admitted that Donnarumma is a player that he likes to keep tabs on. “He is a top class goalkeeper with great reflexes,” said 35-year-old Sommer. “I’ve played against him in the past in a number of matches during his time at Paris Saint-Germain.

"He is very young but has a great bit of experience having started at a very young age in the first team with Milan. He is a goalkeeper I like to watch. I like to watch his performances and my goalkeeper coach trained him at PSG.” 

Sommer outlined his approach to spot kicks. “It is important to prepare for the game rather than the lottery of penalties. It could go to penalties but before the game I don’t study all the individual penalty takers as it is too much information.

"I focus on the match and I think about penalty takers in relegation. In the shootout, my goalkeeper coach will provide me with the information at the right time.”

extratime.com asked Swiss boss Murat Yakin about how his team have prepared for possible penalties in this match.

“We’ve had time this week to work on penalties,” said the 49-year-old former Basel coach. “Everyone has taken a penalty in training. We’ve jotted down some notes.

"Of course it is not the same thing taking a penalty on the training ground compared with taking one in a match situation and all of the pressure that pertains to that but we do have the necessary experience to take on penalties.

"To be honest I don’t want to go to penalties. I hope we can win the game prior to that because penalties are a lottery. We know it is not a particularly nice thing to go through. We hope that if it goes to penalties, we can win the match.

For Italian boss Luciano Spalletti, who was a lot more relaxed with the Italian media than after their 1-1 draw with Croatia, he outlined his thoughts on spotkicks and how he has integrated them into his squad training sessions.

“Penalty takers are guys who can manage the emotion of that specific moment. You need to have a big character. We have had everyone take penalties in training. It isn’t an ideal solution if we are already thinking about that. We will do everything in our power to win the match.

“If you practice penalties too much and everyone takes one well, then there is no pressure. You have to replicate the pressure and practice them in such a way that you make it difficult emotionally.

“They take them at the end of training and it seems they are perfect. Then you play a training game and in that game you take two or three when the ball goes out of play. That has an impact on results and they do behave differently.”

The Azzurri have also been looking to draw inspiration from a few areas this week, including from Buffon and that 2006 shout out win in the Olympiastadion. “In the last few days, Buffon has discussed that World Cup win here with everyone. He has let us relive all that excitement.

“You try and stimulate the players using the stadium here where Italy won the 2006 World Cup. We have had Buffon telling us those stories. We can use the climax of against Croatia as it felt like a big release.” 

After all that penalty discussion, we likely won’t see sight of a spotkick on Saturday night but either way we will have a winner who will face England or Slovakia in the quarter-finals in Düsseldorf on 6 July.

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)



Saturday’s referee Syzmon Marciniak took charge of the World Cup final in Qatar between Argentina and France

It is the sixth time the Azzurri have played here in Berlin but they have won just two of those matches. However they were pretty significant games to win – the 2006 World Cup final against France and the gold medal match in the historic 1936 Olympics. This last 16 tie may not be quite as momentous.

Switzerland's only previous game at the Olympiastadion proved to be one for them to remember too as they came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 on 12 November 1961 in a playoff to qualify for the 1962 World Cup.

The Azzurri are unbeaten against Switzerland in 31 years and have won 29 of the 61 matches between the countries, losing only eight. It is 11 games since the last Swiss win – that was a 1-0 victory in a EURO94 qualifier. 

The Azzurri booked their place in the round of 16 of EURO2020 with a 3-0 victory over Switzerland at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

The sides played in the 2020 World Cup qualifiers. The Azzurri failed to qualify for the last World Cup after two draws against Switzerland (1-1 home and 0-0 away in 2021).


1-1 AET with Italy to win 5-4 on penalties


Injured: None  

Doubtful: None

Suspended: None


Injured: Frederico Dimarco

Doubtful: Alessandro Bastoni

Suspended: Riccardo Calafiori