Dhe younger ones among us don’t do much with Leopoldo Fregoli anymore. The Italian was the greatest quick-change artist of the last century – in old, yellowed scripts you can read how he changed clothes and voice and suddenly transformed himself into a completely different character in his play “The Chameleon”.

In these days the miracle repeats itself. And again it is an Italian who amazes the world. This time the magician is called Roberto Mancini, as a trainer of the Squadra Azzura he stands on the sidelines as a fine person in fine thread at the EM – and lets play fine football.

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Fast-paced football and attacking football, and that from the Italians! You spontaneously think of the story of the grizzly bear ordering a double whiskey in a bar in Alaska. But it’s not a fairy tale, the dream has come true. “How nice it is to be Italian”, cheers “Tuttosport”, and instead of a match report, the “Gazzetta dello Sport” printed a declaration of love after the win against Belgium: “Italia, you are great, great, great.”

The era of the catenaccio has come to an end

The Italians cannot believe their luck themselves. They shake each other, halfway believing what they suddenly see, like last time in the Allianz Arena. The “Corriere della Sera” described the sudden transformation overwhelmingly: “In Munich an era has come to an end, that of the catenaccio. Mancini has formed a new Italy that condemns rivals to defense. The game’s intelligence won. “

But the unbelievable: you don’t have to be Italian to love this new, azure-blue football. All of Europe is fascinated, from Brussels to London, even we Germans, who suffered bitterly all our lives under the old Italian school. At most in Madrid the feelings are mixed, the Spaniards think sleeplessly of tomorrow’s semifinals in Wembley. “The new Italy”, the “Marca” trembles deeply concerned about the dominance of the Iberian ball possession, “plays good football.”

It seems Spanish to many, this new football in perfection, which suddenly no longer ends with a 1-0 lead. The Italians did not wall themselves up against Belgium afterwards, they stormed, twirled and curved on until the whirlwind Lorenzo Insigne made the 2-0 with a virtuoso flick.

The goal against Belgium is a “career highlight”

Lorenzo Insigne became the man of the game with his goal in Italy’s 2-1 victory over Belgium. The 30-year-old was happy after the game but was already looking to the semifinals against Spain.

Quelle: Stats Perform News

But let’s not talk about the strikers. The Italian defenders, especially Leonardo Spinazolla, have recently become even more remarkable. The man from AS Roma is the face of change. In the past, an Italy defender only prevented goals, like Spinazolla in the 61st minute against the Belgians. He thwarted the equalizer on the goal line with his bum, and old champions Bonucci and Chiellini kissed and cuddled him, because for decades nothing more was expected of an Italian defender.

Spinazolla’s injury weakens Italy

Close at the back, that was the duty, at the back a lead was defended, not beyond the center line, for a Catanaccio defender that was a mined area. But what is Spinazolla doing against the Belgians? He marches briskly, always along the line, forwards and backwards, sprints, tricks, dribbles, as fast as an arrow, 33 km / h. So he had become one of the best players in the European Championship, and the football god must be ashamed that he punished the brave in the end for it: Suddenly, in the middle of the assault, Spinazolla collapsed and doubled over in the grass.

FBL-EURO-2020-2021-MATCH46-BEL-ITA

The end of the European Championship for Leonardo Spinazzola – the left-back stood like no other for the change in the playing style of the Italian national team

Source: AFP / STUART FRANKLIN

At such a moment it used to be clear: Italians, i.e. actors, and time wasters. “They should treat him outside!” Jan Vertonghen hissed at the referee. The Belgian was probably thinking of the first half: Theatrically, after a duel with him, da Ciro Immobile rolled around in the penalty area to get a penalty. When the 1-0 fell in the next moment, the villain jumped up brightly and jumped into the Italian crowd.

When Spinazolla was in front of Vertonghen (with a torn Achilles tendon, as it turned out), the Belgian did not want to believe two things: That an Italian defender is storming – and not simulating when he is rolling. In return, Dries Mertens, the Belgian employed by SSC Napoli, has internalized the changing times: Italian defenders have recently attacked, and Italian tears are now real. Mertens consoled Spinazolla.

Emotions of this kind were rare in the past – back then, when the Italians were driving their opponents crazy with their catenaccio and with their antics, we think of the swallow king Filippo Inzaghi. Or to Roberto Boninsegna.

Italian football is changing

This name haunts every old and decent German to this day in his sleep. Especially Günter Netzer, who played the game of his life on that sad and mad European Cup night. With his Gladbachers, the “King vom Bökelberg” shot the World Cup winners from Inter Milan 7-1 out of their shoes, only a failure of the floodlights could have saved the Italians that evening, or the throwing of an empty Coke can. She met Boninsegna just as he was throwing in, and he fell over as if struck by an ax. For minutes he lay motionless, the summoning of a priest for the final unction seemed inevitable, and the mouse-dead man was carried out on the stretcher.

“Deserved another goal”

The Italian national team won the quarter-finals against Belgium 2-1. Coach Roberto Mancini is certain that his team deserved more than two goals.

Quelle: Stats Perform News

The 7: 1 was canceled afterwards at the green table, and the biggest game by Netzer, who has been mourning since then, was erased: “That was shameless and primitive.” From then on, the worst swear word in German football was not rogue or rascal, but Boninsegna.

We cursed this football, and Olli (“Dittsche”) Dittrich was even forced to do a TV commercial for the media market at some point. He embodies an Italian Toni, as the normally inclined soccer German imagines him, glittering gold chain, mafia sunglasses, a bucket of gel in his hair and always a cool saying on his lips – in that case Toni laughs at us Germans for seeing one another WM always buy new televisions. “What do the Italians buy?” Grins Toni. “You buy the referees.”

But others were also mad as hell. The French led the way, at the latest when Marco Materazzi so irritated the good-natured Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final that he knocked him down with a headbutt and was blown off the pitch. In any case, the glee was great worldwide when it went the other way around at least once and the Uruguayan rascal Luis Suarez bit his opponent Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder at the 2014 World Cup and then threw himself to the ground with a roar, as if the Juve champion had torn him to pieces. In his memoir “Io, Giorgio” Chiellini wrote about Suarez afterwards: “Maliciousness is a part of football. I admire his cunning. “

“Mancini’s Magical Men”

Giorgio Chiellini was like that himself, always. These days, when Italian football is changing, even it comes across as sympathetic. He is 36, his mild age suits him well, he smiles and hugs his opponents after the aerial and hand-to-hand fights in the penalty area, and “Tuttosport” has knighted him: “Chiellini, a devil among devils.”

Devilishly good.

Like the whole squadra. Mancini’s magical men are “a feast for the eyes”, the Spanish newspaper “AS” quivers, and a game against the Italians is “worse than a visit to the dentist”. They’re drilling again tomorrow, at Wembley.

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