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Italy out … but only just

Germany finally beat Italy in a tournament but it couldn’t have been closer. The azzurri were without Daniele de Rossi and Candreva in midfield already missing Claudio Marchisio  and Marino Verrati. Germany paid them the highest compliment with a matching 5-3-2 dropping Julima Draxler. The first half was cagey like two grandmasters looking for a technical advantage but above all concerned not to give anything away. The game came to life after Ozil opened the scoring and I was not surprised that we equalised. There were few chances and little goalmouth incident but I found it absorbing. Nevertheless, when it came down to penalties I thought Germany would win as they are the proven masters of the shoot-out. Both teams’ penalty takers were careless but we should have sent ours high into the middle of the goal as Neuter was stretching always to his left and right.

So Antonio Conte leaves the national bench for Chelsea with his reputation enhanced. Speaking to Alan and Rex, it is clear he does not have the same media scrutiny as the Italian press tends to focus more on tactics. Nor do they create unrealistic expectations. However he has his  own pressures. The clubs are not keen to release players. The meaningless Italian Cup Final took place between Juve and Milan who contributed more than half the team when he wanted a get together. Unlike England he created a system that suited the players who performed beyond expectations. I believe you have a saying that sum is greater  than the total of the parts and we are all excited and impressed by the team’s performance.

I do not think it has been a particularly good competition. The draw is bottom heavy with France, Germany and Italy in the lower half. Whilst admiring Wales, I would have preferred to see Belgium reach the final. They were unlucky that having already lost Kompany they then missed their two central defenders Vermaelen and Vanatonghen. At least two of the goals conceded came from defensive mistakes. I was disappointed too we lost Croatia. Why does England have such a poor tournament mentality? Time and time again they qualify with a group of apparently impressive young players but hardly any would make the team of a top European country.

About Stefano Ursolini

The son of a leading Florentine art dealer, Stefano initially worked in the Uffizi Gallery. He went into journalism and soon became a popular stringer writing on Tuscan wines, art and football. Stefano lives with his partner Umberto in the Santa Croce quarter of Florence. A dedicated supporter of AC Fiorentina his elegant articles on the Viola as well as the Serie A have earned him an appreciative global audience. More Posts