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Italy at the European Football Championship 2021: simply not to be overcome


The really big stars didn’t even play, but the Italian train at this European Championship cannot be stopped. But opponents Wales can also cheer, the underdog who surprises again - thanks in part to Gareth Bale.

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has not yet been defeated at this European Championship

Photo: Alberto Lingria / AP

Scene of the game:

It actually only followed with the final whistle, the 90 minutes did not exactly give rise to a party atmosphere. But then, when it was over, the winners from Italians cheered - and so did the losers from Wales. The Italian national soccer team ran towards the fan corner with arms raised. On the Welsh side one saw hands clenched in fists, a laughing Gareth Bale. "We're tired and proud," said the superstar afterwards. After the sensational EM 2016 with the semi-finals, Wales qualified again for the knockout round of an EM, ahead of Switzerland and Turkey, in a difficult group. Bale played his part in this, the 31-year-old had previously provided two assists in the 2-0 win against Turkey, this time he stood out as captain (but more on that later).

Result of the game:

Italy defeated Wales 1-0 (1-0) in the last group game, ending Group A with 7-0 goals and nine points from three games. More is not possible. Read the match report here. In the round of 16, both teams, Italy as group winners, are behind Wales. The possible opponents for Italy are Ukraine or Austria; Wales could face Denmark, Finland or Russia.

The broad squad:

Italy had already been confirmed as the round of 16 before the game and would have been first with one point, while Wales had a draw in the round of 16. Coach Roberto Mancini had the opportunity to show what and whom he had: He spared some players, made eight changes in his starting line-up, including the strikers Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insgine and Giorgio Chiellini Defensive. In the closing stages, Mancini even replaced goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to give Salvatore Sirigu a few minutes of play.

Noble Technician:

Speaking of Mancini: It was the coach who initially provided the only highlight of an uneventful game.

He stopped a failed flight pass into the side with a heel, in black leather shoes:

End of the silence:

It was surprisingly quiet at times in the Rome stadium, then Chris Gunter headed just over the goal after a Welsh corner kick.

That was in the 27th minute, and this action was the pick-me-up for everyone involved: After that, Italy also had a more dangerous chance through Federico Chiesa, who moved from an acute angle.

Then it got louder for the striker, because Matteo Pessina had scored the opening goal for the Italians after a free kick (39th minute).


It is apparently the weekend of the Bergamo professionals, like the new DFB star Robin Gosens, who stood out against Portugal, also plays Pessina for Atalanta, which finished third in Serie A last season and is about to join one of the top performers in Italy.

The fortress:

Shortly before the Italians 1-0, something else happened. In the 35th minute, the team could look forward to 1000 minutes without conceding a goal. The last time Italy conceded a goal against the Netherlands in October 2020, followed by a series of clean sheets. Part of the responsibility for this success is Gianluigi Donnarumma (who was almost always in action), the talent of the century, the legitimate successor to Gianlugi Buffon in goal, who signed a contract with AC Milan in 2014 and has since played 215 league games for the Italian club. And yet: He's still only 22 years old. After the European Championship, Donnarumma will probably change clubs, the goal could be Paris Saint-Germain according to media reports.

The youngest with red:

This EM was still without a red card, without a direct dismissal. This changed in the 55th minute. Ethan Ampadu was late in a duel and caught Federico Bernardeschi's ankle. An unfortunate act without intention, for which a yellow card would have been enough. The 20-year-old looked very upset about it, especially since he now also holds a record that you don't necessarily brag about at parties: He is the youngest red sinner in European Championship history.

Consolation from the superstar:

Superstar and Wales captain Gareth Bale then comforted the young teammate and accompanied him from the field. Bale, once the most expensive footballer in history, is considered a difficult personality, Real Madrid have wanted to get rid of him many times and had last loaned him to Tottenham. But when Bale puts on the Wales shirt, there seems to be a different character on the pitch. No trace of airs.

Not a debacle:

With the red card it was also clear that a point for Wales was a long way off. Now it was all about not going under, in order to make it into the second round of the last sixteen with four points and a better goal difference - ahead of Switzerland. So you saw a lot of red jerseys in the Welsh penalty area, a lot of people who now saw only one task for themselves: to defend. And it succeeded.

Farewell to Rome:

The Olimpico, this concrete palace in the north of Rome, has carried the Italian team through the tournament so far. Between 11,000 and 16,000 fans were present at the Squadra Azzurra games and they helped the team find their way into the European Championship with their support. From now on Italy will have to do without the previous home ground. It continues in the second round in London, in a possible quarter-final Italy would play in Munich. But, it seems, the team is coping well, they have now been unbeaten in 30 games. The Italian team looks solid enough to move out of the Olimpico.

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-06-25

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