Italy was the first team to get a win at Euro 2020, quickly showing on their home turf in Rome that they were one of the teams to beat at the tournament that was delayed 12 months because of the pandemic. After another 30 minutes of extra time and penalties, the first team to get a win at the Euros were the last team standing.
It was not easy. It was not pretty at times. It was definitely as stressful as the previous trip to Wembley was earlier in the week. But Italy, getting a pair of monster saves from Gianluigi Donnarumma and another ice-cold Federico Bernardeschi penalty that proved to be the winning strike to claim the Euro 2020 title with a win on penalties over England at Wembley Stadium Sunday night.
What a game.
What a tournament.
What a team.
On the same day on the calendar that Italy won the World Cup in 1982, the boys in blue captured yet another major tournament title. (And just a few days after the 15-year anniversary of the 2006 World Cup win, too.)
It’s a good thing this tournament is over because after back-to-back rounds where Italy had to scratch and claw their way to a win on penalty kicks, I’m not sure how much more I could have handled. This team, though, they certainly showed the mental fortitude to respond to adversity, put it behind them and get the job done. And boy did they ever get the job done.
You think about how this game started with England scoring within the first couple of minutes and how they were playing in the first 15 or 20 minutes. This was an Italy team that looked out of sorts and simply unable to do much of anything outside of Federico Chiesa for a large portion of the first half. (Or the entire first half if you want to break things down even more.)
But the mistake England made was settling for a 1-0 lead. They sat back and allowed Italy to get back to how they wanted to play rather than being the team we saw at the beginning of the game when they were pressing and not letting the Azzurri do much of anything right.
Yet as this game went on, Italy were able to play like they have for a lot of this tournament. The tying goal finally came, through our old buddy Leonardo Bonucci, after a made scramble in the six-yard box in which Giorgio Chiellini was rolling on the ground and trying to get some kind of limb on the ball like it was a fire drill. It was a goal that you felt like was deserved because Italy was getting better as the second half went on with each Chiesa run and every shot being created as Italy finally were able to settle in.
Thank goodness they did.
And thank goodness Donnarumma made the saves he did.
It all equated to Italy getting back to the mountain top, the cherry on top of a reclemation project that Roberto Mancini has pulled off over the last three years.
It was only fitting that two of the oldest players on this team, Bonucci and Chiellini, were there to celebrate together after an absolutely drama-filled penalty shootout. Bonucci told us it was coming to Rome. Chiellini, with one of those classic grins on his face, carried the trophy over to his teammates before lifting it above his team.
It is indeed coming back to Rome.
And they’ve got a nice little trophy to buckle into a seat on the team plane and make sure it travels safely back to where it will now call home.
This team, man. They did the damn thing, and that’s something that all of us can celebrate and, maybe just maybe, have time to savor after this past 12 months of such a frantic football schedule.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Federico Chiesa is a crazy person in the best kind of way:
Federico Chiesa's #Euro2020Final by numbers:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 11, 2021
8 duels won
5 touches in the opp. box
4 passes into the box
4 take-ons attempted
3 take-ons completed
3 tackles made
Explosive stuff. #ITA pic.twitter.com/HOyHMl36LC
- But, please, whatever that injury is that caused Chiesa to come off the field and be replaced by the other winger named Federico who signed with Juventus from Fiorentina, don’t let it be anything serious that he can maybe shake in a week or two and let him come back to preseason training with a smile on his face. I’m not nervous about Chiesa being injured, YOU are nervous about Chiesa being injured.
- Give Chiesa a blank check right now. Keep him in Turin forever.
- The opposite of Chiesa’s performance? Ciro Immobile. Woof, that was not great.
- Neither was Lorenzo Insigne. That was a tough one.
- The sub that got Italy going again was bringing on Domenico Berardi that allowed Italy’s front three to have a lot more freedom to move about wherever they wanted. You see where Chiesa was popping up before the Berardi sub and after, and it was pretty noticeable.
- Basically, as Gareth Southgate sat on his subs for pretty much all of the first 90-something minutes, Roberto Mancini made the right moves to get his team in a position to try and level the game and ultimately win it on penalties. He pulled so many of the right strings in this tournament, and this was another night where Mancini made the right adjustments to get his team back on track.
- Mancini used every single player outside of his third keeper in this tournament. Italy might not have had the overall talent depth-wise that England did Sunday night, but Mancini pushed so much of the right buttons.
- I don’t know what Giorgio Chiellini’s international football future holds. For all we know he could end up being on Italy’s World Cup roster next year or sitting at home watching it. But what I do know is that there is no player that deserves the kind of praise and admiration he is getting right now after helping lead Italy to this title. He played a great game against England, and a couple of those tackles and blocked shots/crosses he had late in the game were crucial. The man is 36 years old and he’s still got it, man. What a guy.
- Seriously, Federico Bernardeschi with two of the biggest penalties an Italy player has made over the last handful of years. Not just Bernardeschi overall, but a Bernardeschi who has been completely out of form for basically two years now. We talk about the confidence that Berna has when he puts that national team jersey on, and there was no bigger example of that than the PKs he took against Spain and then England.
- Berna, baby! I always believed.
- Leonardo Spinazzola was the first one to get his winner’s medal.
- Related: Boy, did Italy miss Spinazzola over the last couple of games. Bless Emerson, but he provided a fraction of the threat going forward that Spinazzola did.
- Well, I think Donnarumma just showed why Paris Saint-Germain was willing to shell out that kind of money for him in annual salary. Not that we didn’t know he was good before, but man, this dude had one hell of a tournament. I keep saying it to friends and all, but you forget that he’s still just 22 years old because he’s been around for so long and made his debut at such a young age. He grew up a lot these last couple of years, and now there’s definitely no doubt who Italy’s No. 1 keeper is even though he doesn’t wear No. 1.
- This happened. I laughed.
- This is also a wonderful picture. You think they enjoyed Bonucci’s goal? Yeah, think so!
- I need a nap after this. I’m guessing I’m not the only one. And yet, there’s so much damn adrenaline pumping through my body right now that sleeping seems impossible over the next 24 hours or so. Good luck, everybody.