There is no doubt that the Italians are the most beautiful story of the euro. In the third round of Group A, the Azzurri beat Wales 1-0 with a maximum of 9 points, and won the first place with a terrible goal difference of 7-0 before the knockout.
For a national team that has won the world championship four times, it may be a bit unusual to say that the sensational result is to reach the quarterfinals, but it seems so at first glance. Italian football, both the club and the national team, has been in a major crisis for the past 15 years. Their club is far from the top level in Europe. The national team failed to pass the 2010 and 2014 group stages after the 2006 World Cup. The climax of chaos occurred when Sweden was eliminated from the Azzurri in the Russian World Cup qualifiers.
After that embarrassment, Roberto Mancini sat on the bench and started from the beginning. Freed from the burden of high expectations and huge media pressure, he has time to slowly and calmly form a national team according to his own preferences. He has a vision and has the opportunity to change the paradigm of Italian national football. He seemed to succeed. With the victory over Wales, the Italian reached an incredible 38 undefeated matches, tying the record held by Mancini in 1938 by the legendary two-time world gold medalist Vittorio Pozzo.
But the interesting thing about Italy is that Mancini did not choose a player who has served as a champion in their club and world stars. He invited those who he thought would be the national team he imagined in the best way. The key roles of this game are played by the young Sassuolo’s duo Domenico Berardi and Manuel Locatelli, while Chiesa, Bernardeschi and Mois Keane, the two more famous players in name, are waiting for their chance on the bench.
This Italian team is no longer a team that plays perfect tactics on the defensive end and waits for a goal on the offensive end to end the game and resolve the winner. Mancini’s team played beautiful offensive football. They play very fast, very fast, visually beautiful, and their shortcomings are like textbooks.
But anyone who is surprised by how the Italians did in this European Cup certainly did not pay close attention to last season’s Serie A. Not long ago, the league was synonymous with tough and difficult games. Today, in terms of average goals per game, it is the most successful league among the top five in Europe.
Italy may have better players in the past, but they have not had such a good team for a long time. However, Mancini is very clear that this is just the beginning of the story. If he wants to take this European Cup seriously, he needs a strong name and a player with rich experience and knowledge.
In the first two games against Turkey and Switzerland, the Azzurri’s starting star Veratti did not play due to injury, and his return to Mancini, we are sure, received a warm welcome. In the game against Wales, the great Paris Saint-Germain midfielder performed well.
Verrati had 136 possessions, 103 successful passes, 4 successful starts, assists and scored the only goal of the game.
Verrati’s return is the best thing that could happen to Mancini and Italy.