Italy has won the Euros after well-deserved performances at the Euros and it was yet another midfield-dominated victory against England. It’s fair to say that the midfield set up by Mancini has been instrumental for the Azzurri’s lifting the trophy.
Italy’s midfield comprises Champions League winner Jorginho, Inter’s Nicolas Barella, and PSG’s Marco Verratti. Italy’s play has changed since Mancini’s arrival as a coach and has become more of a possession-based attacking football. Although Verratti was not available for the first two games of the group stage, Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli played a crucial role. Mancini has set up the midfield in such a way that has allowed the Azzurri’s to play the attacking style of football bravely, releasing many players to bombard forward.
The possession-based football has worked out perfectly for Italy as the players have suited flawlessly for them. It would be an understatement to say that the midfield was great at the Euros as Italy has remained unbeaten since 2018. Thus it is not a surprise that Italy’s midfield was just good at the Euros as they have won almost every battle that has come in their contest.
Italy’s midfield forms a double pivot, enabling their third midfielder to go forward and support the attack in between the lines. In the group stage, Locatelli and Jorginho allowed Barella to move upwards, filling the gap between the midfield and the attack so that the midfield overload can break down the opposition. Jorginho has been the midfield maestro controlling the tempo and playing the passes from deep out wide to release the wide players. Jorginho has been the main man responsible for guiding the possession and doing the defensive job impressively as he made a record of most interceptions since 1996.
Locatelli in the group stage has been vital for the Azzurri’s as he was intelligent in some crucial moments. Though the Sassuolo man used to form a pivot along with Jorginho, his late runs in the box were significant as he scored two goals and guaranteed Italy’s spot for the knockout stages. When Italy has had to defend, they have been extraordinarily successful at counter-pressing and winning the ball back quickly in transition. Although Marco Verrati was not much available when Italy played their best football in the knockout stages, he was vital for them throughout knockouts. Since Verrati has arrived in the starting eleven, he has been driving around and collecting possession from deep. The midfield was so solid that even though the oppositions tried to threaten them at the break, the counter-press urged by the midfield was critical in winning the ball back.
The knockout stages were the massive tests for Italy’s midfield as the team played against teams of high intensity. The only time Italy lost a midfield contest was against Spain, where they were tested out defensively as the possession was dominated by Spain and were aggressive in their play. The main problem for them in that game was when Pessina and Barella were caught out of position as they were marking Busquets for most of the time. The tactical play led to main problems as they left out spaces for Olmo and Morata to attack and create deadly chances. From Italy’s perspective, it was a tactical hole that needed to be sorted out against England. Although Spain was able to show how they exploited Italy’s midfield, England couldn’t do so as they set back for the whole game after scoring and allowed Italy to dominate the possession.
Although Italy’s midfield was ineffective in some games, they played an important role in scoring goals and create a shield for the defense and eventually winning the trophy they have craved for so long.