In 2018 we weren’t there. Ignominiously eliminated in the play-off with Sweden, we missed a beautiful and fast World Cup, semi-finals and final played in the cool of St. Petersburg and Moscow, with Putin in the stands and the statue of Lenin outside the stadium to sum up the excited Russian century. If for this, since the 2006 victory that the national team has not played a decent World Cup (and in the European Cups we didn’t do much better: after Moratti and Mourinho’s Inter Championships, the Italian teams won only three finals, including the Europa League; all lost). Antonio Conte made a half miracle to the last European, beating Belgium and Spain and taking World Champion Germany to penalties with Pell center forward; then he abandoned us to our fate to go to Chelsea.
Now finally the Italy of football is returning to an international competition. Nobody escapes that this coincides with a particular moment in the country’s history. After the postponement of a year, the Olimpico returns to host the Azzurri in a great tournament, opening up to the public, at the end of the sixteen most difficult months for sport and for our lives. Football was first blocked, then forced to bar the doors of the stadiums, depriving itself of its natural element: the fans. Some of the greatest champions have had Covid, which is not sparing even the approach to the Europeans. It will not be a championship like any other. It will present more problems to solve. But in other respects it will be even more beautiful. Including the itinerant formula, destined to unite a continent that has suffered a lot in recent times, and also to reunify it for a few days, including Brexit London which will host the final.
Also the classic summer evenings at the home of relatives and friends will have a particular flavor; and not only because the Minister of Health, on the left, and the governors on the right are already fighting over it. Speranza’s idea that the same rules as restaurants should apply, if not in homes at least when traveling: no more than four people in the yellow regions, six in the white ones. But Zaia and other presidents have given the green light to private parties, also resulting from civil and religious ceremonies; and not perhaps a civil (if not religious) ceremony the match of the national team? In the end it will be a matter of common sense: by respecting the written rules and those in any case linked to prudence, they will not be able to deprive us of the ritual of the game in company.
Mancini’s National team is a book to be written. The uncertain ending. The team does not have champions of certain international class. Many have limited experience. Antonio Cassano is not wrong, who, like the Shakespearean fool often tells the truth, when he points out that we lack direct clashes with the real greats of Europe. But in front of the medium and small teams, the Azzurri showed a beautiful and profitable game. Comparisons with the past are always misleading, but perhaps one can be attempted with the 1988 European Championship: young, very technical, perhaps a little light physically; but he had a nice tournament. Mancini himself marked the debut to the host Germany. In the second game, Vialli – today a key staff member despite the fight against the disease – beat Spain with one of his goals. In the semifinals, in the rain, we were overwhelmed by the physicality of the Soviet Union (it still existed). But the foundations were laid for a cycle that two years later took us to the World Cup semi-final, and six years later to penalties with Brazil. If you have to indicate a player-symbol of the Mancini national team, two come to mind: Lorenzo Insigne, Neapolitan from Frattamaggiore, just turned thirty, looking for a consecration; and the Sardinian Nicol Barella, vintage revelation. They do not have the physique of the champions of contemporary sport: Barella one meter and 72, Insigne one and 63; but precisely this reminds us that football in theory can be played successfully by any of us. It is no coincidence that the great popular and national novel which (apart from the Promessi Sposi) we did not have.
Europeans 2021: all the insights
June 11, 2021 (change June 11, 2021 | 09:13)
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