EURO 2020: Italy’s Road To The Finals

Since Italy’s disappointment after the 2018 World Cup, the situation has completely changed for the Italians as they have come out far from the dark and have reached the Final of Euro 2020. Azzurri’s time at the Euros has proved that the change of manager from Gian Piero Ventura and the caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio to Roberto Mancini has helped Italy reach its peak again.

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The primary problems that the team faced at the time of the World Cup were their capacity to score goals, and the side was leaking goals at the time. Since their failure to reach the World Cup, veterans Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi, and captain Gianluigi Buffon all declared their retirement from the national team. The team needed changes in the personality and needed a new set of players who had the will to fight till the end and desire to win trophies. Italy’s rejuvenated squad had the potential and experience to reach the top having players like Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. The players at the back were not just center-backs and had the persona of leaders. Mancini introduced Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Emerson Palmieri in the squad, who are better at providing the width from the back as compared to the previous players.  

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Italy revived the midfield with three players like Jorginho, Marco Verratti, and Nicolas Barella, which provided versatility and capacity to press oppositions. The midfield founded by Mancini is well suited to play the “Mancini way” as they are impressive on the ball. 

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The attacking players are well versed with Mancini’s style of play as they have been able to adapt to it very quickly. Lorenzo Insigne on the left has been vital for the team upfront as he has been consistent throughout their Journey to the Euros Final. The rotation between Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti at the top has been vital throughout their Journey. Both of them have contributed as their presence has been a constant threat in the opposition’s box. On the right, the rotation between talented Federico Chiesa and Domenico Berardi has provided a different set of threats as they have been able to open up the opposition defenses. 

Group Stage

Italy started the competition with a brilliant three-game-winning run without conceding any goals. Italy was dominant in all three games throughout and looked to be the under dogs for the competition. While they have been solid from counter-attack and set-piece situations, their main attacking facets have been the wide overloads and switching of play in possession. As for the defense , they’ve been very stable and only having the least amount of (xG) conceded in the group stages with 1.39. They look pretty consistent in counter-pressing the opposition as soon as they lose possession and winning he ball quickly in transition.

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Even if the opposition goes long to bypass their pressing in midfield, their center-backs in Bonucci and Chiellini are there to block it off and always look to be in the right place at the right time. Gianluigi Donnarumma still with a lot of potential to improve at the age of 22 has been very consistent and has been a very mature player considering this is his first major international tournament for his country. His ball handling has been very good especially when it comes to stopping incoming crosses. Their key lies in the midfield, and it is proving to be a struggle for other teams to win the game in the midfield.

Knockout Stage

Italy’s run at the Euros started in a fabulous way as they won all the matches in the group stage and met Austria in the Round Of 16 where we witnessed a considerable drop in their performance. The matchup against Austria turned out to be difficult for them as they struggled to create the chances in front of the goal. Chiesa ultimately stole the show after 90 minutes as he scored a sensational goal, and since, then it has been impossible for Mancini to keep him out of the lineup. Since the match against Austria, Italy has not kept a single clean sheet, but they have not conceded many clear-cut chances and have kept the teams like Belgium and Spain at bay.

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It will be a difficult game especially after their close victories in the knockout stages, it feels like they have made a habit to grind out results even if they were not the dominant side in the game. Italy even though not keeping any clean sheets in the knockout stages still look defensively solid, the key matchup would still prove to be in the midfield where Italy has been so dominant during the tournament. Italy still possesses enough quality in their attack to break England’s hopes of winning an International tournament. Italy has a big task on its hands, but they have a team that is praised for its resilience. 

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