When Arrigo Sacchi speaks and writes, Italy listens and takes notes. “This team makes us reassess values that are now almost unknown in our individualistic culture: it is the exaltation of the group and of the work”, theorizes, in one of his columns for the Italian daily The Gazzetta dello Sport, the revolutionary coach of the great AC Milan at the end of the 1980s. The analysis dates back to June 16 and the demonstration of the Nazionale against Switzerland (3-0). Since then, the team led by Roberto Mancini has confirmed all its promises and challenges Spain, Tuesday, July 6, in London, for a place in the final of Euro 2021.
More laborious at the start of the tournament, La Roja also advances like an army of shadows united and sublimated by the many critics. “All they do is pass the ball from side to side. They don’t even have a player who knows how to make a last pass ”, exhilarated former Real Madrid player Rafael van der Vaart on the airwaves of Cadena Cope after Spain’s draw against Poland on June 19 (1-1).
At the time, the Dutchman was far from the only sniper. The Spanish media also exhaust the purring proposed by their selection, that is, sterile possession of the ball but also this lack – presumed – of personality and talent in a team without a representative of Real Madrid, an exceptional thing. But, in three games, the Spanish attack caught fire (11 goals scored) and no one notices the absence of the charismatic Sergio Ramos, “forgotten” by Luis Enrique in his list.
The time has even come to mea culpa about a coach who was still recently pointed out for his frenzied youth. “We looked at this team, without trusting it, because of all these new unknown faces and also because Luis Enrique is not, so to speak, popular”, concedes Alfredo Relaño, honorary president of the newspaper As and respected voice of Spanish football.
Strangers, but also kids (Pedri, 18 years old and metronome of the midfielder), club replacements (Pau Torres, Pablo Sarabia), or even revenge, like the much criticized Alvaro Morata, this team does not A priori does not have a potential Golden Ball even in the event of a title on July 11 at Wembley.
Italy either, unless perhaps a hat-trick in the final for Lorenzo Insigne. Since the start of the competition, the Naples striker is undoubtedly the most visible talent in the middle of a homogeneous, united, coherent collective and undefeated for 32 games. But the 1968 European champions are as concerned with individual awards as with their first recipe for amatriciana. “We are not the strongest, but this Euro is not for the strongest”, underlined the Corriere dello Sport in his editorial, after the qualification against Belgium in the quarter-finals (2-1).
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