Mancini’s mantra has never been rhetoric: in the group he used 25 players out of the 26 in the squad. The Juventus decisive from the spot, the Italian-Brazilian was thrown into the fray after the knockout of Spinazzola
If the British inundated us – only to crash right at the last corner – with their “football is coming home”, we too have a mantra that has accompanied us for all Europeans (indeed, even before). Which, unlike them, we managed to keep faith until it was time to raise the cup to the sky at Wembley. It is the concept of “all owners”, of the magnificent 26 with equal rights, dignity and the possibility of employment. It is one of the key concepts, a starting point for any team and, in short, obviously in the end it is not really like that. But the philosophy is absolutely the same and one thing must be recognized by Mancini and the players: every time they uttered the fateful two words “all owners” it was because they believed in it and not because of the usual (and cloying) rhetoric. On the other hand, after only three games – those in the group – Mancio had already used 25 men out of the 26 available, with the only exception of the third goalkeeper Meret.
A fact that supports the democratic thesis of all useful and none indispensable. Among those who took the field in the Wembley final there are two who, in particular, have touched Eden twice: winning the European Championships and enjoying the taste of playing the final, or part of it, while coming from a year in which they failed to be protagonists in the clubs. This is the great beauty of Mancini’s philosophy: what makes the difference is not the number of appearances in the teams they belong to, but the functionality of the tactical project.
Let’s start with him because he left important traces especially from the disk, when only those who know how to govern their own mind check it out. Goal to Spain in the semifinals, goal yesterday. Glacial penalties, which do not give tokens in the statistics, but still weigh like boulders. In this tournament Federico only started once, against Wales in the group when we were already qualified. The rest is three entries in the race: 5 minutes in the first match against Turkey, 13 with Spain and 34 yesterday. The beauty of Fede, that is the thing that Mancini appreciates the most, is that in our coach’s football he can cover all the roles of the attack: wide right, left and false nine. With great adaptability. And this is in fact what happened in these European Championships: in front he played everywhere, even within the same match as it happened in the final. He entered in Chiesa’s place when there were five minutes to go in the 90th minute and placed himself in the center of the attack, between Berardi and Insigne. Then, when Lorenzo came out for Belotti at the dawn of extra time, he was diverted to the left. Bernardeschi for Mancini is simply one of the best emblems. Seasonal appearances in Juve? The number is good – 39 -, the minutes less: 1445, with many games started to watch and then bitten in the course of construction, but without ever being able to hit the mark.
Unfortunately for him, the confrontation is overwhelming, oppressive: replacing Spinazzola means trying to make the best left-back of the Europeans forget. And it’s tough. Especially when you come from a season with the club spent mostly watching. He has not broken down and Mancini neither. When “Spina” raised the white flag against Belgium, the Italian-Brazilian entered and obviously never left. Well aware that it would be his turn in the most important matches: the last minutes of the quarterfinals and the eventual semifinal and final. In short, it is a good shot of adrenaline and responsibility. Emerson is different than Leonardo. Less aggressive and more thoughtful, let’s say. Against Spain he went so far as to become the hero of the evening, with a left torpedo that hit the crossbar. Last night was his fourth European match, his third as a starter (there is also the one with Wales). Appearances with Chelsea? A Greek cry: 15 all inclusive (6 as a starter), of which only 2 in the league. But, in terms of showcase, what a season: two-time European champion, with the club and with the national team.
Then there is another category of reservists – but in this case we are only talking about the blue jersey – who signed up for the final. That is, they were thrown into the arena when the arena was hot, from the second half onwards. This is the case of Berardi, who started the Europeans as an undisputed holder and then had to give way to the tears and the authority of the Church. Di Belotti, who in theory should have been in a perennial run-off with Immobile for the center forward shirt, but immediately lost the elections. Di Locatelli, who at a certain point seemed to undermine even his majesty Verratti, without in the end succeeding. And finally Cristante, who has set foot in six of the seven games, but hasn’t done much. Except last night, of course. Yesterday, it was a party for everyone.
July 12 – 1:20 pm
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