The coach asks his team to honor the prestigious Wembley stage
LONDON. Here is the European that Roberto Mancini was waiting for. After three games as an absolute protagonist, and with the crown of queen of the beautiful game in the first phase attributed by many observers, Italy against Austria begins the inside or outside tournament. And it does so in the legendary stadium of English and European football.
«Most footballers are not lucky enough to play on this grass, and whoever does it must honor a fantastic stadium with a great performance. Italy will do it “, says the coach who wept on the London lawn in ’92, for the defeat of his Sampdoria against Barcelona in the Champions Cup final. , when the going gets tough … And Mancini changes face: from the confidence and desire to have fun in the first three games, he moves on to a more steadfast gaze. «I had a lot of fun, and I want to have fun again as a coach: but now the games start from inside or outside, where you can’t make a mistake. And I say that the first knockout is even more difficult, if we pass this impact then it will be easier … »Against the national team of Franco Foda, Austrian coach with an Italian father, Italy chases – for the eighth time in his history – the passage to the quarter-finals, as already five years ago under the guidance of Antonio Conte. A goal that on the eve of the London trip appears absolutely within the reach of the Azzurri. «We are calm because we can count on a group of good players – Mancini’s words on the eve -. Anyone who takes the field will do well, even if we know that a difficult match awaits us, in which we will not be able to make mistakes ».
The first without a safety net: those who make mistakes go home. “It is an additional element of difficulty, in this sense I think that, in case of qualification, mentally the possible next match would be easier to prepare”, the coach’s recommendation asking his team to respect the prestigious stage that will host the Round of 16: «Wembley is a wonderful stadium, a temple of football. It must be a pleasure to play here, there are players who do not succeed in their entire career. I remember Italy’s victory in 1973. And also the Champions League final, lost to Sampdoria: a big disappointment, but how many emotions. Here – he concludes – you have to play well, it would be a shame not to do so ».
The doubts, says the coach, are almost all resolved: Di Lorenzo should play right back, Acerbi alongside Bonucci because Chiellini is not yet fully recovered, and in midfield Verratti’s form should keep Locatelli out, in the trio completed by Jorginho and Barella. Forward, we return to the initial trio, Berardi-Immobile-Insigne. Mancini excludes that the excess of confidence could lead his team to underestimate the Austrians, the most insidious trap for a national team back from an impressive streak of unbeatenness that has lasted for 30 games. But Bonucci and his teammates did not limit themselves to equaling Vittorio Pozzo’s national team record of the 1930s: they did it with style and elegance, proposing an auteur football even in the first outings at Euro 2020. “And we will have to play like that too. against Austria, without renouncing the prerogatives that have so far given us great satisfaction ». Thanks to the three successes at the Olimpico, in the group stage, the Azzurri have led to 11 consecutive victories, all without goals in the passive. Confirming a balance that represents the strength of a team, which seems to have reached its full maturity and awareness.