Italy flies to Munich, but how hard to beat a tough Austria. In a blue-colored Wembley stadium, albeit with a small if not very small capacity, Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri beat the Austrian national team 2-1 after extra time thanks to goals from Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina. The changes made by the coach in the final were decisive, when his team seemed on their legs and on the verge of collapsing. For Chiesa it is the second goal of the Azzurri shirt, while for Pessina it is the second center in this European. The goal in the final of Kalajdzic is not enough for Austria.
A painful victory, indeed very painful, for Italy that played a game with two faces: beautiful in the first half, with too much fear in the second. Austria tried to take advantage of the difficulties of many Azzurri in their first real big international match and almost sent us back home. Certainly a game that will serve as a lesson, because against Belgium and Portugal those uncertainties seen in the second half risk paying them very dearly.
Confirmed the rumors of recent days regarding the formation of Italy, with the presence of Marco Verratti in midfield in place of Manuel Locatelli. For the rest, the formation that beat Switzerland is confirmed, with Francesco Acerbi and Giovanni Di Lorenzo in defense in place of the injured Giorgio Chiellini and Alessandro Florenzi. In attack the trident made up of Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Domenico Berardi. In Austria, Foda confirms the deployment of the last match with Arnautovic as the only striker assisted by Sabitzer behind him. Captain Alaba backward on the line of defenders.
Even if there cannot be the glance of a full stadium with 80 thousand spectators, the little more than 20 thousand make themselves heard and are largely Italian fans. In fact, Italy also plays at home in Wembley Cathedral. Italy starts strong immediately and touches the advantage with Spinazzola after less than 10 minutes, the left side of the blue winger ends on the outside of the net. Mancini’s team seems to want to pick up where it left off against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales: furious pressing and deadly restarts to exploit the spaces left by the Austrian defense. Berardi and Insigne try almost in sequence twice, but the opposing rearguard manages to escape thanks to Bachmann’s saves. The most difficult of foot, shortly after the quarter of an hour, on a right winger on Barella’s flight from the edge destined for the corner. The Inter player himself, with the return of Verratti alongside Jorginho, can play more advanced and therefore close to the opponent’s area. Austria seems to be at the mercy of ours, but on the first attempt it becomes dangerous with a slightly high right-foot from Arnautovic from twenty meters. The Azzurri attack in gusts, but finding space in the Austrian defense is not easy. At half an hour the best opportunity for Italy, with a right from the edge of the building that splinters the intersection of the goalkeeper beaten. When it seems to be on the ropes and on the verge of a knockout, Austria always manages to get up again trying to be seen in Donnarumma. Fortunately, without big ambitions. Before the interval still dangerous Azzurri with Spinazzola, Bachmann keeps a good guard.
In the second half, Italy starts to push again and immediately becomes dangerous with an initiative by Berardi on the right thwarted by the Austrian defense. The Azzurri joke with fire, however, because before Bonucci Arnautovic loses on the counterattack then Di Lorenzo knocks out an opponent to the limit and Alaba almost scoffs Donnarumma on a free kick. With the passing of the minutes and the result always in the balance, a bit of tension and nervousness began to spread among the Azzurri. A couple of mistakes in Acerbi’s disengagement make a shiver run down Mancini’s back, Donnarumma is careful. Even in the stands, spirits heat up, with the stewards forced to intervene to calm down an Italian fan who is a little too excited. Austria perceives the moment of difficulty of the Azzurri and tries to take control of the game, first Sabitzer and then Schlager become dangerous from a distance. It is then the VAR that saves Italy, when Arnautovic’s goal is canceled for offside by Alaba’s assist. Mancini tries to run for cover, removing Verratti and Barella in clear oxygen debt. Inside Locatelli and Pessina. Just the newly entered Locatelli immediately becomes dangerous from the edge, while Insigne shortly after exaggerates in looking for the lob from an excellent position is assisted by Immobile. VAR still graces Italy when Hinteregger falls in the area in contact with Pessina, on a free kick from Alaba, but was offside. The impression is that the Azzurri are in a bit of difficulty on a physical level after a first half played at a thousand per hour. In the finale Mancini also plays the Belotti and Chiesa cards, in place of Immobile and Berardi. Just the latter, try to win Wembley with a goal from an anthology in reverse on a cross from Spinazzola. But he doesn’t hit the ball well. We go to extra time.
In the extratime Church takes the chair, the Juve winger first engages Bachmann with a diagonal right. Then in the 95th minute he signed the blue advantage with a deadly left, after a head control to overcome Laimer on an assist from Spinazzola. Austrian coach Foda then takes off a very tired Arnautovic and enters Kalajdzic forward. The advantage, found in perhaps the most difficult moment of the whole Mancini management, reassured the Azzurri who in the 104th minute nearly doubled with a free-kick from Insigne from 25 meters thwarted by Bachmann in a corner. Second goal that comes a minute later and bears the signature of Pessina, crowning a persistent action by Italy in the Austrian area with Acerbi and the same midfielder from Atalanta. In the second overtime, Austria now has nothing more to lose and pours into attack, the newly entered Gregoritsch engages Donnarumma. For Italy, however, inviting passages open up on the counterattack that first Belotti and then Di Lorenzo are unable to exploit. The thrills never end, Sabitzer shoots high from an excellent position the opportunity to reopen the game. However, the Austrians found the goal in the 113th minute with the other newly entered Kalajdzic with a header from a corner kick. Last moments of tension a left from the outside again by Gregoritsch on the side, a save on the line with an empty goal by an Austrian defender on a lob by Chiesa launched on the counterattack. At the triple whistle of Taylor the joy of the Azzurri and coach Mancini explodes. You go to Munich against Lukaku or Ronaldo, but that will be another story.
This is the 38th match between Italy and Austria, projecting the red and white national team into the top 3 of the teams most faced by the Azzurri in history after Switzerland and France. In the previous 37 the Italian balance is positive and shows 17 wins, 8 draws and 12 defeats, with 49 goals scored and 56 conceded.
The last sporting disappointment dates back to more than 60 years ago, on 23 March 1958, when Italy lost in a friendly match in Vienna for 3 to 2. The first official crossing dates back to 1934, when football was practically another sport and the second world war loomed on the horizon: it ended 1-0 for the Azzurri. The most recent, on the other hand, was scored in 2008, in a friendly match: a 2-2 draw in Nice, Gilardino scored and Ozcan’s own goal. As for the international competitions at the Europeans there is no historical precedent while at the World Cup there were four meetings, all in our favor. The first in 1934 and then in Argentina in 1978, when the two teams met during the second group stage and the match was decided by a goal from Paolo Rossi. But the clash that remains in the memory is that of Italia ’90: the national team led by Azeglio Vicini beat the Austrians at the Olimpico in Rome with a header from Schillaci, in what was ‘his’ world championship before the disappointment on penalties in semifinal. Finally there is the 1998 World Cup in France, always in the groups: it ended 2-1 for the Azzurri, Baggio and Vieri on the net with the Austrians eliminated from the competition.
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