Italy’s campaign so far has brought back many memories of more glorious times. Italy will play Austria at Wembley in the Round of 16. This is the first time they have played outside their homeland. If they manage to make it all the way, they will get used to it. If they win and an ever-so-strong Belgium side wins on the other side, they will face each other in the quarter-final in Munich.
Even if they lose in the quarters, the side will yet be a reinvented side in all its senses. Roberto Mancini has at least restored harmony and stability to the national side. Italy has had many sour memories since they last won the World Cup in 2006 but their fate seems to have turned.
The round of 16 will be important for the team. Defeating Austria would mean that they would eclipse the 30-match unbeaten streak between 1934 and 1938. Keeping aside the final of Euro 2012, Italy hasn’t been able to get past the last eight of a major tournament since lifting the World Cup 15 years ago.
Mancini’s uncompromising mannerisms have made few mistakes since he took over a rather disastrous Gian Piero Ventura’s tenure. Mancini signed a new deal until 2026 which means that he will be in charge of the Italian side in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The Reinvented Team
Former Manchester City manager, Mancini, chose a very different playing style to arrange the team. He decided to go for an assertive which is not usually associated with Italy. His team would be based on technical midfielders and attacking fullbacks. He also depended on wide men to drift off the flank and link the play upfront.
It is no secret that Italy lacks an efficient goal-scorer and a powerful physical midfielder. Ciro Immobile is good but still misses too many chances. Their midfield has also been exposed by better teams. Despite these core issues, Italy seems to have a purpose again. Mancini decided early on with the players he depended on and put his faith in them. He didn’t even consider if these players played regularly in domestic football. This in turn generated a club-like atmosphere in the camp. Every player wanted to earn a place in the eleven. Every player gave his best when the time came making the side ever so formidable.
A Closely Knit Team
A high team spirit is built when the team is performing this good on the pitch. But if you look at this team, the players genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company. While Immobile, Insigne, and Verratti have all played together for Pescara in 2011-12, Berardi and Manuel Locatelli played together at Sassuolo. They’ve all been closely knit since. But the real test begins at Wembley. After 3 consecutive wins, the fans are surely hoping for the best!