Saturday, June 12, 2021

So Far So Good

EURO 2020 BEGINS WITH APLOMB

Euro 2020
Euro 2020 begins with a win for the Italians in Rome
Italy 3:0 Turkey, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Brava Italia. The boys in blue were wearing white but got the European Championships off to a shining start with a 3-0 win over a below-par Turkey in Rome.

Roberto Mancini's much talked-about makeover was revealed on the continental catwalk and left a most impressive glow. He has crafted a smooth system for a side now unbeaten in 28 games and relatively star-free.

Eschewing their heritage of catenaccio and counter-attack, Italy now play on the front foot in a 4-3-3 and move the ball swiftly around the field. 

Unlike Turkey, Italy's shape held firm and their neat interpassing left their visitors chasing shadows, committing fouls and scoring an own goal as their system disintegrated into hopeful punts and ragged clearances.

For all Italy's fine performance, Turkey's second half collapse did leave Michel Platini's expansion of the Euros to 24 nations immediately in question. More mismatches like this and we might go back to 16 teams.

But let us raise a cin cin to Italy tonight. They played a pleasing opening movement to the European symphony.

Roma left winger Leonardo Spinazzola and Lazio forward Ciro Immobile both enjoyed the run of the green on their clubs' home field and after 45 minutes of half chances, the Azzurri were in cruise control.

As the major football nations swan through qualifiers for major tournaments it can be hard to judge their calibre before the finals, so on tonight's evidence, Italy must be semi-final material.

To complete the lovely summer evening, Andrea Bocelli's rendition of Nessun Dorma at the Stadio Olimpico and a colourful firework display relit memories of Italia '90, that most emotional World Cup. 

Will Euro 2020 be another rollercoaster we will not want to get off?

Bring on the other 50 games.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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