Eurozone: Get Behind the Azzurri – They are What England Aren’t
So let’s all have a cry because we English don’t get to see a renewal of that classic rivalry that we (but not they) hold so close to heart. England v Germany, what a game it definitely would not have been! Fight them on the beaches? As well as Roy has worked, his men wouldn’t have even poked their heads above the sand dunes. An England shot on target would have been a rarer sight than the inside of Angela Merkel’s purse. As it stands an Italian team, and an Italian squad, progress to face a largely rested and undoubtedly talented German unit.
As predicted, it was indeed the experience of international tournament football that helped Italy through. It was Diamanti, one with a desire to prove a point to the English, who would finish it off. It was also largely the luck of the draw that has brought the Italians to the semi-finals. They got to face an England team that were initially expecting very little of themselves and these low expectations were something they can be proud that they eventually achieved, at least once ‘Sir’ Rooney came back.
So England were disappointing. Remember when the squad was announced? We all agreed any squad with Stewart Downing in doesn’t take itself seriously, so let’s remember this and not take it so seriously ourselves. Italy however, are a proper tournament football team with far more amusing characters and a far more serious chance of winning this tournament. Altogether more likeable if the construct of national pride is removed from the equation.
Cesare Prandelli charges on with his assembled squadron who have emerged from the depths of corruption. A group of condottieri, fighting for who-knows-what cause, now march together, guided by the prowess of Pirlo and the precision of Prandelli, to face Germany who stand between them and the final in Kiev. This is a march I warned of from the off and a march that can continue unhindered by a strong German outfit.
So you were looking forward to facing the Germans? The dream is not completely forgotten. Get onboard with an Italian team with a lot more chance of winning than we ever did. If ever there was a team to contrast the Germans it is Italy. Preparation of ten years versus preparation of ten days. Italy have a long way to go to be genuinely better than both Germany and Spain. However, with this quite remarkable collection of Italians they are only 180 minutes of good football away from a whole new wardrobe of Prada and Gucci for themselves and their Signora.
The runs of the forwards and the connection to the midfield caused trouble for England. With added sharpness and continued strength at the back giving them their platform, they can cause problems for Germany on Thursday. It is a clever Italy that will have to take the field, and a strong and lucky Italy that will have to remain, but the Azzurri lack no one crucial attribute enough to be written off. ‘Creative madness rhythmically tinged with English negativity enveloped in Prandelli’s tactical nouse, all driving towards a unified success’. The Italians are hard to pin down. But if you had to explain your reasons for your new Italy shirt that you wear to the pub on Thursday evening, feel free to recite that.
Get behind Italy. Financially (the odds will be great) and emotionally. The Euros don’t have to finish here. Here are a team that many have noticed, are not too unlike ourselves in their gritty and fairly unfashionable approach. Support a team that can make the Germans cry. All had drawn the two teams together, but get behind Italy because they are what England are not. They do not have one Rooney who they lump all hopes but they do have a Pirlo, a genius who never fails to perform. They do not have players of whom to expect a lot, who are being willed to match their price tag. They do not have an infuriating Ashley Young, they have a refreshed Alessandro Diamanti. They have proud players playing up, old workmen from West Ham to Rondinella, who have passion and creativity.
Support Italy because they have everything England failed to have. From Shakespeare to Byron, we have always wanted to be the Italians. Mystery and admiration has encapsulated our relationship with that peninsula. This was capped by the events of Euro 2012. They play our own game better than us, then they can go behind on penalties, and cooly bring it back to shatter us like glass to a falsetto.
Support Italy, if not for their football or admiration for how they had us beat, then for the great personalities that England largely lacked. For how they are underdogs and have risen from a place of accusation and scrutiny under a law far higher than Sepp Blagger. Where you may have lost a Downing or a Henderson, pick up a Mario and an Ignazio. Stop trawling around looking for the screws that Mario has loose, because you’re more likely to find a mountain of deserted screws of all the other Italian squad members. Embrace the void in the brains of many of the Italian players that represents ‘sense’ and recognize it is filled by incredible footballing genius, exemplified by the audacity of Pirlo in the penalty shoot-out. A skill and confidence an Englishmen could only observe and never maintain. A skill and confidence that could rattle the Germans and send shockwaves to the Spanish.