Italy are Euros 2020 Champions But How did They Win It?
On a night that the pendulum could have swung either side and it would have been well deserved for both teams based on how terrifying the two sides had been all through the tournament until the final, Italy won their first major title 3-2 on penalty shootout against England in the Euro 2020 final for the first time since their 2006 World Cup triumph in Germany.
Nothing to take away from the magnificent performance that the English side displayed on their road to the final but the Italian team had looked better as the tournament eventually winners from way-back in their previous rounds.
Credit to Roberto Mancini for picking up the pieces and turning the Azzurri from failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup to be the champions of Europe within 3years. The former Manchester City manager modified the Italian traditional approach of solid defence and quick counter-attacking football into a more attacking side that loves dominating possessions with quality passes being played around – Italy, joint number one with Spain, with 13goals got the highest total number of goals scored at the Euros 2020 joint.
On their road to the final, the Italian team was sensational to watch in maneuvering their opponents one way or the other with their beautiful free-flowing football and high-pressing A-game quality.
Their defensive structure and organization which has been like that for more than a decade can’t be overlooked. The legendary partnership that veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci formed at the back was solid in helping the Azzurri comfortably play from the back with calmness, getting the ball distributed to other parts of the pitch with great intents and also quenching out dangers with ferocity and skill whenever the Italian goal was being threatened by the oppositions in the competition. This was evident in the fact that the Italian side only conceded 3times at normal in 7games and never lost a single game all through at the just concluded Euros 2020.
How Did Italy Win the Final?
After conceding that early goal in the first half of the final against England courtesy of Luke Shaw’s brilliant finish and it was looking like the Azzurri were never going to create anything from open play. Roberto Mancini however, reacted by forcing out Nicolo Barella and the ineffective Ciro Immobile for Bryan Cristante and Domenico Berardi as early as the 50th minute in the second half.
The two substitutes had almost an instant impact on how the Italian side was able to make passes that pulled the English defence from one side to another to force some openings. No longer was their collective effort rewarded with a goal when Berardi’s corner found its way to Verrati who saw his strike saved superbly onto the post by England Goalkeeper Pickford, but Bonucci was in the right place at the right time to make contact with the ball into the Three Lions’ empty goal.
England coach Gareth Southgate was forced to mix things up and try out a new ideal when the Azurri broke the deadlock via Bonucci rebounded tap-in but neither sides were able to produce the match-winner at normal time and not even at the end of extra-time too to make the game to be decided on penalties.
Player of the tournament Donnarumma proved his worth once again in the penalty shootout for the Azzurri as he had exceptionally proven all through the tournament and in the semifinal penalties against Spain – his penalty-stopping skill took out Sancho and Saka’s attempts as Rashford struck the post to handover Italy the Euros 2020 trophy and their 34th match win in a row without a single loss consecutively.