Keys to Italy in the Euro Cup: a champion with a different style that is entrusted to Barella and Donnarumma | Euro Cup Germany 2024

The champions are back, with a different coach, different leaders and a different style. Many things have changed in the last three years, both in the country and in the national team. Italy has elected its first female prime minister, the covid, fortunately, is nothing more than a terrible memory and the Nazionale embarks on a new adventure without pressure.

Italy is not among the favorites in Germany, and coach Luciano Spalletti, appointed after Roberto Mancini left Italy for Saudi Arabia, goes to the tournament as the possible revelation. Not a bad prospect for a man who, just a year ago, won the scudetto with Naples against all odds.

The defending champions qualified after finishing second in Group C behind England, with a goalless draw away against Ukraine in the key match. In Germany, Italy will face Albania, Spain and Croatia in one of the toughest groups of the tournament. “Being the reigning champions is an encouragement,” says Spalletti. “In 2021, Italy was not among the strongest teams on paper, but then it became a special team. Three years later, we have to play free. Personally, I win if I can create a team.”

Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, the central couple who led Italy to glory in 2021, will watch it from their homes. Nicolò Barella and Gigio Donnarumma will have to step forward and be the key pieces, in a team that struggles to find solutions in attack and that will not be able to count on left back Destiny Udogie or winger Nicolò Zaniolo, both injured.

The problem of the forwards, in particular, seems to be an evil endemic to the genetics of Italian football, since it also affects the lower categories. Mancini won Euro 2020 with just two goals from Ciro Immobile, his starting forward, and it took Spalletti months to find a center forward. Could Gianluca Scamacca or Mateo Retegui be the heirs of Paolo Rossi, Totò Schillaci, Christian Vieri and other strikers who made history with the blue jersey?

The coach, Luciano Spalletti

Luciano Spalletti appears at the head of the national team in a major tournament for the first time. In the previous two decades, he has managed Roma, Zénit, Roma again, Inter and Napoli, conquering a scudetto and two titles in Russia. At 65 years old, she has the body of a man in his fifties and her pulse does not tremble if he has to make an unpopular decision. Spalletti has resorted to 3-4-2-1 and 4-3-3, a similar approach to that adopted by Mancini during his time in charge, but is undoubtedly much stricter than his predecessor. In February, he made headlines by saying that he would not allow video games among gamers: “If the modern thing is to play PlayStation until 4 in the morning before a game, the modern thing is not good. The national team must be a pack of wolves. The players appear with the national team to win the Euro Cup, not to win Call of Duty”. It is clear.

The icon

Gianluigi Donnarumma, motionless as a statue after saving a penalty from Bukayo Saka, with the hint of a smile on his face, is one of the iconic images of Italy’s victory in the Euro 2020. He has had a good year with PSG and He has become accustomed to detractors. “It is not easy to deal with criticism, but we have a duty to be professional, to maintain balance and to be calm,” he once said. Spalletti commented: “Gigio has never been forgiven for being a child prodigy, who rose to fame due to his talent.” Without Chiellini (retired) or Immobile (out of the squad), this summer there is news: Donnarumma, at 25 years old, will wear the captain’s armband of Italy.

Player to follow

Davide Frattesi could be the next Italian football sensation. In his first season with Inter, he only played a few games as a starter, but scored six goals in Serie A and played a crucial role in the comeback in Lisbon against Benfica (from 3-0 to 3-3) in November. In the qualifying phase with the Azzurra, was man of the match in the decisive home match against Ukraine. Criticism rained down on him during the Milan derby played in September, when, with Inter winning 4-1, he ordered Rafa Leão to shut up and showed four fingers before coming on as a substitute and scoring the final 5-1.

The nonconformist

Gianluca Mancini never ceases to surprise. During the 12 days between April 6 and 18, he scored the only goal in the Roman derby, took out a banner insulting Lazio fans, was fined by the Serie A sports judge and scored two goals that eliminated to Milan in the Europa League. Very intense. As if that were not enough, in that same period it went viral when Ryanair responded to a tweet from a Roma fan, and he posted an ironic comment to the effect that the only thing Italians hate more than Mancini is that airline.

The core

Donnarumma-Bastoni-Barella-Scamacca. These four players, none of whom are over 27 years old, are asked to be the new leaders of the Azzurri. Born at the end of the 20th century, they began to follow football when Italy won the 2006 World Cup and are a symbol of the Italian Generation Z, who became accustomed to watching the World Cup on television without the presence of Italy, supporting Iceland, Panama or Argentina (but never to France…). They are more than capable of leading their team to victory (or to the semi-finals, which this time would be a more realistic goal).

Probable starting eleven

3-4-2-1 Donnarumma – Di Lorenzo, Buongiorno, Bastoni – Cambiaso, Barella, Jorginho, Dimarco – Chiesa, Pellegrini – Scamacca.

famous fan

Back in 1982, Mick Jagger came out singing in a Paolo Rossi t-shirt (and was prophetic with his prediction that Italy would beat Germany 3-1 in the final). Sharon Stone also tweeted “Brava Italia!” when Italy won the Euro 2020 final against England. But also three years ago, after the final in London, Madonna remembered her Italian grandparents and published a story with the old slogan that “Italians do it better.” Let’s see who tops that. Pure Italian essence?

Culinary delight

It has already been raining since Fantozzi, a fictional character much loved in Italian cinema, followed a qualifying match between England and Italy by eating a huge omelet with onion. In 2024, Italians will gather around a pizza (what else?), a beer and, if there is extra time, they will turn to tiramisu. Plan B is always spaghetti. As Chiellini and Bonucci said in response to the provocations of some English fans at Euro 2020: “We continue eating pasta… and you?”

This is an article in collaboration with The Guardian. Luca Bianchin He is a journalist at La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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