Arrivederci, Azzurri

Die Mannschaft ended the long standing streak beating the Italians in the most German way possible; penalties

Teary eyed Gigi Buffon greeting the Azzurri fans

The title does sound cliched, because I was too emotional to think of anything better after this defeat. The very first thing that popped into my mind after Hector scored past Buffon was that, all the effort the squad put in has gone down the drain, No one will remember this team, another failure for the Azzurri. That wasn’t the case though, this team served as an inspiration in what’s supposed to be “tough times” for Calcio.

The game started out well for both sides, each of them saw good amount of possession in the first half creating chances few and far between, but none were fruitful. Germany started with a 3–5–2 formation which mirrored the Italians and it worked out pretty well. Khedira had to be subbed out due to an injury, with Schweinsteiger replacing him. The breakthrough for the Germans came in the 68th minute, when Gomez started the build up play when he delivered a neat ball inside the box, which deflected off Bonnuci’s foot and Ozil capitalised on it. Bonnuci had a shot at redemption when his German counterpart Boateng handled the ball inside his box which led to a penalty being awarded to the Italians, which the center back converted with composure. The match headed to extra time and the whole 120 minutes affair proved to be the best game in this Euros competitively and tactically. Then came the fun part, Penalties…

Statistically, Germany had the edge, they have lost only twice in shootouts, to East Germany and Czechoslovakia, both of which don’t exist anymore, meanwhile Italy had 33% success rate in penalties. One would obviously expect two of the biggest European sides to do well, but this turned out to be the worst penalty shootout ever. Seven out of eighteen players missed their penalties, and Germany ended up winning this historic fixture. Germany now face Les Bleus in the semifinals, both of whom have made it to this stage deservedly.

So, what could Italy have done better? Not much, Conte could have brought in new legs in the second half after equalizing. Zaza and Pelle could have taken the penalty better for all the showboating they did. But, that’s all in the past, Even Baggio and Baresi missed penalties. It’s time to look towards the future, Giampiero Ventura will be appointed as the CT and he’ll need to build on this “quasi success”, he’ll need to integrate youth players and aim to do well in the 2018 WC qualifiers. To quote Juventus’ motto: “Fino Alla Fine!” Fight till the end.

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