Italy are through to their fourth final in the history of the Euros, with only Germany (six) competing in more.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini has urged his players to maintain an easy-going approach even in the Euro 2020 final against England. Mancini further encouraged them to face the clash with great focus but also with joy, as it was a game of football after all. The former Manchester City manager believes that a person cannot be tensed and nervous about a football game.
“You have to face this match with great focus but also with joy because it is a football game after all. You can’t be tensed and nervous about a football game. You can only win a final if you have fun,” said Mancini as quoted by Euro 2020’s official website.
Italy are through to their fourth final in the history of the Euros. Only Germany (six) have competed in more. The Azzurri’s only success in this tournament came way back in 1968, following a 2-0 replay success against Yugoslavia in Rome. Italy defeated Spain following a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1 in regulation time.
“There are some games when you have to suffer, but we deserved to be here. We knew it was going to be tough. It wasn’t easy, and Spain surprised us at the start by deciding to play without a striker. This group, however, is amazing. Everyone wants to win, but this group of players wanted to do something special and they just did that,” said Mancini following the semi-final triumph.
“We wanted to get to the final, even if not many people believed that we would before the start of the tournament. I congratulate Spain, they are a great team. Penalties are a lottery. We are pleased to have given this joy to Italians everywhere. We knew it would be very hard, Spain caused us plenty of trouble. We had a hard time because we didn’t have much of the ball,” he added.
Defender Leonardo Bonucci was one of the Italian players who managed to score in the penalty shootout.
“It was incredible. A really tough game, credit to Spain. They were good. There’s no shame in admitting this: nobody shows as much resilience as us Italians. We suffered through the game, we were ready to do the dirty work, and suffer together to reach the final. Only those who don’t take penalties don’t miss. I was sure that I would score. To be honest, we didn’t know who to choose for the penalties because a lot of players wanted to take one. The five players who took one were confident. In the end, I think we were lucky that Manuel [Locatelli] missed the first penalty, so we put some pressure on Spain.”
Federico Chiesa was named as the Star of the semi-final triumph. Chiesa struggled to describe his emotions in words.
“I cannot describe my emotions in words. It was a tough match. Spain were great tonight, but now we are in the final. We’re coming back here on 11 July and we’ll see. We’ll see. Spain were great tonight. They have star players all throughout the team, in every position. But we fought until the end because we wanted to go through, and we did it. The group, once again, made a difference. Even when Loca [Manuel Locatelli] missed the first penalty, everyone was calm, everyone was [saying] we could still do it,” read his reaction.