behind there is a country that wants to be happy-

White rain sky, sticky heat, last workout.

There is always this fifteen-minute comedy open to reporters: we who pretend to take notes, Roberto Mancini and the Azzurri who lose some time in joy on the lawn of the Olympic stadium (but we all know that not a normal eve: the start of the European Championship, the grumpy Turkey, the public who will finally return to the stands, the waiting and the hope of a big party, after a year and a half of fear and pain).

Insigne enjoys hitting Spinazzola’s neck from twenty meters with a shot from the left fielder. Verratti runs together with Vialli. Locatelli and the Church they laugh at one thing of their own. Chiellini and Bonucci, more serious, they talk to Raspadori.

What tenderness, this boy.

What strong talk about him. The other day the coach hoped that he could be the new Paolo Rossi. He said it to give him courage, enthusiasm. Maybe for he took some from Immobile and Belotti, the other two forwards. Words are important, as Nanni Moretti said in Palombella rossa. And if you hear your coach asking fate to send him a Pablito, you ask yourself a few questions. So Immobile will start as the owner, taking with him the certainty of having scored a lot in the championship, but never in a European or a World Cup. Belotti, on the other hand, on the bench. The captain of Torino was a bit pouting in the friendly lost against the Under 20s. He was running limp, usually a train. Less hump, less fury: Mancini then took him in a corner of the locker room, and he was not tender (Kean, after all, for having played the fighetto in the friendly against San Marino, who stayed at home).

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However, a light full of coincidences looms over Giacomo Raspadori. Al Sheet they realized that it has the same height, 172 centimeters, and the same weight, 64 kilos, of Pietro Anastasi. Who, like him, had never played in the national team: but that Ferruccio Valcareggi called up at the age of 20 precisely for the 1968 European Championships. Pietruzzo was deployed in the final, here in Rome, against Yugoslavia: 120 minutes are not enough, penalties they weren’t there, they play again and he scores the 2-0 goal (even a nice goal).

Football is a hat of memories, you have to trust mirages, believe in spells. To say: on this eve – if he wishes – Mancini can invoke (possibly without saying it) also the spirit of Tot Schillaci. Arrived out of nowhere, suddenly, his pupils like crazy flies, he signaled there, under the Curva Sud. And then he marked again: he touched it and threw it in, in those World Championships of ’90, when the public rose in the first sensational wave Edoardo Bennato and Gianna Nannini sang of magical nightschasing a goal and all of us, in that old-time Italy, were very young and very carefree.

Those of the sky create the right atmosphere so as not to tell it too easy. Historically, the national team has often done well when it felt encircled, destined for martyrdom. Here, however, a certain enthusiasm has been hovering for days. The official narrative: we do not have half a champion, but we can count on a great group that plays football full of bubbles, beautiful to look at as it hasn’t happened for some time. The problem – but it must be said in a low voice – that so far we have only encountered medium or modest nationals.

Mancini, a little while ago, at the press conference, still pulled straight, trying to throw it on the classic, with a bit of old pretactic: in reality the team decided. Now he calls the blues around him, puts them in a circle on the lawn, the whole staff arrives, there are De Rossi and Evani, and starts talking.

I wonder if he tells him. But here is a whole country that has a crazy desire to be happy.

June 11, 2021 (change June 11, 2021 | 10:08 am)


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