ROMA. There is no newspaper torchlight procession to celebrate it: but due to the intensity of a joy that has many facets, the Olympic evening follows the one that many years ago celebrated the blue success at the 1968 European Championship.
In fact, Italy celebrates the return to a (relatively) normal life by beating Turkey 3-0 in the opening match of the continental tournament in front of a small audience compared to the capacity of the stadium but finally not virtual.
Mancini’s blues, who pass thanks to an own goal from Demiral and goals from Immobile and Insigne, thus lay the foundations for a serene qualifying round: it is already a lot, even if there are flaws in their performance. But it was a game marked by many difficulties.
Italy had in fact reached the opening challenge of the European Championship with a streak of 27 consecutive useful results, they had won from 8 consecutive matches in which they had not conceded a goal: but the average of the Fifa ranking of the opponents faced before today was over ‘eightieth position, and then perhaps the performances of the Turks in the recent past could be considered heavier, able in the qualifying round to this European, for example, to snatch 4 points out of 6 from France, world champion and favorite for the title.
Instead, the Azzurri have easily overcome the obstacle, with a flying start: and are now looking forward to the second match of the group against Switzerland, scheduled for next Wednesday. At the start, the two technicians had confirmed the indications of the eve: Mancini faithful to his 4-3-3 suited to ball possession and clearly aimed at attacking, Gunes – who is the dean of the tournament coaches – with the youngest but deployed team in a cautious 4-1-4-1.
As a former goalkeeper, the Turkish coach was first of all thinking of covering himself perhaps also because he was burned by the criticisms received in the past, even when his parents were returning from a feat such as third place in the 2002 World Cup. In a race with many suggestions, not all sports , the message of encouragement from the “sultan” Erdogan had arrived on time just a few hours before the race to give that strongly patriotic connotation that the current generation of young Turks is reserved on a daily basis. The Italian institutions responded with the sober cheer of the President of the Republic, Mattarella, while the stadium was colored blue but the red spots stood out, because among the 16,000 admitted many were Turks who arrived from the Schengen area.
The fact is that with Jorginho acting as metronome and Barella-Locatelli incursori, the Azzurri immediately tried to light up the Insigne-Berardi-Immobile fantasy trident. They were already trying in the 3 ‘(cross from the outside of Sassuolo and shot from Lazio just out). But bogged down in quicksand created by an opponent skilled in closing spaces and passing lines, they had to wait half the time to create real dangers to their opponents (Insigne shot with a sure shot after triangle with Berardi, out; Chiellini’s header deflected for a corner from Cakir and imperious detachment of Immobile served from the outside of Sassuolo, with the ball slightly to the side).
So what sparked the audience were, if anything, the repeated protests of the Azzurri, looking for a resolving intervention from the Var: the only ones with a minimum of foundation seemed to be those closing in time for a wide-arm intervention by Celik on a cross from Spinazzola. After a flying check with the tech room, the referee Makkelie made a sign that the penalty was not mentioned at all.
In the second half Mancini inserted Di Lorenzo in place of Florenzi to find more verve on the right wing, and at the same time Gusen placed in front of him the inspiration of Under, who took over Yazici. Perhaps a flicker of the Church was needed, and certainly in defense one between Chiellini and Bonucci was too much, considering that the Turks left only Yilmaz in advance. Thus, in the usual routine we also escaped a serious error in setting Jorginho, on which Under flew: Spinazzola and Donnarumma put a piece on it.
On the overturn in front, however, Italy passed: Berardi, launched into the area, sat down an opponent and crossed hard, in an attempt to avoid the impact on the arm Demiral clumsily put his chest in his net. The match was unlocked and took place on a track that was appreciated by the Azzurri, in search of space: but Insigne did not take advantage of it first (at 13 ‘he was once again stopped) and then Locatelli, who was weak a minute later from a good position. The goal that gave the Azzurri safety came again thanks to an intuition of Berardi, who in the 22nd minute overturned the attacking front with a cross, freeing Spinazzola to shoot. Cakir rejected right on Immobile’s feet, quick to put on the net.
At 34 ‘came Insigne’s goal, who made his best piece with a right turn and closed the blue trio.
There was also room for Cristante, Chiesa and Bernardeschi: but the strongest emotion was for the liberating party at the end of the game with which the 16,000 Olimpico players celebrated the return to normality of passions.
TURCHIA (4-1-4-1): Cakir; Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Yokuslu (20′ st Kahveci); Karaman (31′ st Dervisoglu), Tufan (20′ st Ayhan), Yazici (1′ st Under), Calhanoglu; Yilmaz. In panchina: Bayindir, Gunok, Kabak, Muldur, Antalyali, Kokcu, Tokoz, Unal. Allenatore: Gunes.
ITALY (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Florenzi (1st Di Lorenzo), Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Locatelli (29 ‘st Cristante); Berardi (40 ‘st Bernardeschi), Building (36’ st Belotti), Insigne (36 ‘st Chiesa). On the bench: Sirigu, Meret, Acerbi, Bastoni, Emerson Palmieri, Pessina, Raspadori. Coach: Mancini.
NETWORKS: 8 ‘st Demiral (aut.), 21’ st Immobile, 34 ‘st Insigne.
ARBITRO: Makkelie (Olanda).
NOTES: clear evening, soil in good condition. Bookings: Soyuncu, Dervisoglu. Corners: 8-2 for Italy. Recovery: 1 ‘pt, 3’ st.