When Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini lifted the Henry Delaunay trophy into the drizzly London sky almost a month ago, some had not yet forgotten what Roberto Mancini’s team had achieved in just three years. We started by missing the 2018 Football World Cup. It was a tragedy, the worst thing imaginable for a country that loves soccer as much as Italy, Alessandro Del Piero told ESPN Football Club after Italy’s victory.
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Italy’s transformation from tragedy to ecstasy was nothing short of miraculous. A nation that looked utterly toothless in its two Football World Cup playoff games against Sweden in October 2017 stunned the world just three years later with rousing soccer the likes of which Italy has never seen. The country that lives and dies by results is now playing and winning in style.
The statistics are impressive: 34 games unbeaten; Giorgio Donnarumma had gone more than 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal before being knocked out by Austria in the round of 16; 12 goals throughout the Euro 2020 tournament and Italy trailed only once in the entire tournament in the final against England. In short, the best team won the tournament.
These discussions are often informed by past prejudices, or rather, it depends on whom you ask and what stage of life they are in when their country wins a major tournament. Our fondest memories of soccer often come from the rosy years of youth. I think the 2006 team was the greatest because I grew up with it, says Lorenzo Bettoni. However, I didn’t see the 1982 team because I wasn’t born until the late 80s, but the names of that team are legendary.
Gaetano Scirea, Antonio Cabrini, Fulvio Collovati, etc. But if you talk to my father or grandfather, they would say that the 1982 team was better. Since Vittorio Pozzo’s legendary 1930s team the only one to retain the Football World Cup is even further back in history, many see the 1982 team as the pinnacle of Italian excellence. That team, led by Enzo Bearzot, won the 82 Football World Cup in Spain without losing a single game.
Moreover, after a slow start, Italy and especially Paolo Rossi suddenly came to life and topped the Group of Death in the second round. They beat Diego Maradona and defending champions Argentina before defeating Trey Santana’s carefree Brazil, who showed one of the best games of the tournament in Barcelona. For more details about Qatar World Cup Tickets.
However, it cannot be overlooked that the team of the 2006 tournament scored 12 goals (as in 1982), conceded only twice, and remained unbeaten just like Birzoit’s team. For many in Lippi’s team, 2006 was the last chance to win anything. The team, which grew up together, had won the European Under-21 Championship twice in the mid-1990s and reached the final at Euro 2000, so it was a top-flight team. It was now or never.
That’s what Mancini has managed to do. Much has been written about how the Italian team looked and played like a club team that was involuntarily taken to the European Championships, so cohesive was it on and off the pitch. However, it cannot be overstated that Mancini achieved many of the things that previous Azzurri coaches tried and failed to do.
In 1991, the Italian Football Federation hired Arrigo Sacchi to do just that. It was hoped that the former shoe salesman would turn the national team into something similar to the highly successful Milan side he had led in the late 1980s.
Despite reaching the final of the 94 Football World Cup in the United States, Sacchi’s team and his five-year tenure are not fondly remembered by most. Of course, arguments like this are entirely subjective and can be debated until the end of time. But there is no doubt that Roberto Mancini’s team now has the right to be considered.
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