Euro 2020: Azzurri’s victory over England crowns Italian football ‘renaissance’

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At the time, that 1-0 Nations League group stage loss to Portugal certainly wouldn’t have been a turning point in Azzurri history, but it sparked what is now a 34-game streak. undefeated, just one behind the record. international record jointly held by Brazil and Spain.

The man who has been at the helm for those remarkable three years is Roberto Mancini, who took over as Italy’s head coach after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, only the second time in the history of the country.

While Italy has certainly moved on from the rigid defensive style that the national team has become synonymous with over the years, the president of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gravina, has called the team’s success at Euro 2020. of “expression of rebirth” rather than of total revolution.

Among veteran defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci – one of the greatest defensive duos of their generation – many of those classic Italian qualities endure, but at Euro 2020 Italy proved they are capable of playing. much more attacking and exciting football. .

Bonucci, 34, who was huge for Italy in the final and who rightly won the man of the match title, is the oldest player to score in a Euro final.

Chiellini bringing Bukayo Saka back by his shirt collar as the England striker threatened to break free also demonstrated that defensive cruelty – though Italian fans might use the word cunning – was also key to the Azzurri’s success in the game. ‘Euro 2020.

Knowing that Saka was too far off goal to receive a red card, Chiellini, 36, prevented what would have been a dangerous England attack in full overtime.

It’s the kind of know-how that only comes with experience, something the young England team learned the hard way on Sunday.

LILY: “It’s back to Rome” – Azzurri makes a triumphant return to Italy
Leonardo Bonucci and Roberto Mancini celebrate during the national team open top bus parade in Rome.
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The boundless energy of Leonardo Spinazzola, who unfortunately succumbed to an injury to Achilles in the quarter-finals, and Manuel Locatelli immediately made Italy one of the most feared teams in Euro 2020.

Italy also have an exciting squad of talented youngsters, led by Federico Chiesa and tournament player Gianluigi Donnarumma, which will give Azzurri fans hope that this team can continue to compete for major international trophies in the future. predictable.

New Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann is a big fan of Chiesa, telling Bild am Sonntag that the Juventus star embodies “incredible verve and dynamism”.

In his Euro 2020 squad, Mancini seemed to strike the perfect balance between veteran experience and youthful exuberance, with young stars such as Locatelli, Alessandro Bastoni, Nicolo Barella and Matteo Pessina already proving they can handle the pressure on the biggest scene.

“The great beauty of Italian players: it is not only the game but also the friendship and the hope that this will inspire our sector and reform Italian football,” said Gravina.

“Great beauty, an expression of the renaissance and sports humanism to which the federation holds dear.

“This national team is fighting and exulting and rejoicing, it is everyone’s team and with real feelings. I cannot and will not forget anyone who has built this path until this moment.

“Thank you Azzurri, we are even happier and proud to be Italian.”

LILY: Italy crowned European champion after beating England on penalties
Giorgio Chiellini drags Bukayo Saka after being returned by the England striker.
In Italy, much of the praise for the rejuvenation of the team has been given to Mancini. Tuttosport newspaper thanked the head coach, calling him a “magnificent visionary”.

“Mancini (…) the builder of a national team that dissolved on the cursed night of November 13, 2017,” the newspaper wrote, referring to the night Italy failed to make it qualify for the World Cup. “Rebuilt by Mancini in three years.

“Mancini, who changed the mentality, the game, the prospect of an insanely beautiful and therefore unique Italy. Mancini, who on the first day as a coach said: ‘I will take you to the final and we will win it. ‘ “

Tuttosport couldn’t resist digging in England as well, with the Italians appearing to take great joy in beating Gareth Southagte’s home side at Wembley Stadium.

“With respect, the Azzurri taught a lesson to the masters who invented football, but for fifty-five years they have tried in vain to show that they still know how to teach it,” he said.

“Teach a leson” might be a bit of a stretch considering the game ended in a draw after 120 minutes, but it shows the pride the nation felt in coming to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne celebrate with the Euro 2020 trophy.

Instead of “football is coming home”, football has returned to Rome.

On Monday, the national team was greeted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella and then Prime Minister Mario Draghi, before winning the trophy in an open-top bus parade around Rome in front of thousands of fans.

“Football has come home!” Corriere dello Sport wrote triumphantly. “For ours, however.

“The last ball made its way to Italy… we are European champions again and after 53 years,” added Corriere dello Sport, referring to Italy’s triumph at the 1968 European Championship.

Stefania Dall’Armi contributed to this report.

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