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Italy wins the European Championships on penalties
Jul 12, 2021, 3:33:00 AM

Italy wins the European Championships on penalties

In an exciting European Championships final, Italy managed to beat a gutsy England team in the penalty shootout after the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Italy continued their dominance by winning its 34th match in a row under head coach Roberto Mancini.

Amid the pressure of playing England in a raucous Wembley Stadium, Mancini and the Italian squad prove why they were favourites to win the event before it started. They had the momentum to carry themselves to the trophy and they rode it towards glory. Even if the stadium was filled with ‘It’s coming home’ chants, Italy stayed composed and they won the game through a penalty shootout. 

Before the shootout, both teams played well since they scored a goal apiece. Luke Shaw opened the match with an amazing goal in the second minute. He helped England get off to a great start but it wasn’t enough since the Three Lions conceded a 67th-minute goal to Leonardo Bonucci which forced the draw and the shootout.

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Disappointing yet positive for England

Even if they lost the final, Gareth Southgate and the England squad need to know they tried their best. Yes, the loss was hard but they still made a major final after 55 years. Their last appearance was back in 1966 during the World Cup which they won. 

Almost every fan knows England was the underdog but they still gave their supporters some sort of euphoria by taking the lead for about an hour in the match. 

It was sad to see Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka miss their penalty kicks in the shootout but that happens for players who are young and struggle under the pressure of a country on their shoulders. Surely, you can expect these players to come back stronger and better the next time around.

On the other hand, Southgate needs another shot at leading this team. He will be under fire with some rumours of him leaving the squad but he has given this team two stellar runs over the past three years. If he stays with the side, he will lead this team to a trophy whether it’s in this event or the World Cup. 

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Brilliance from Italy

Throughout the whole event, Italy was the best team. They were a complete side that can play at an elite level on both sides of the game. Mancini led this team with a brilliant system revolving around playing a well-rounded style. 

They were motivated to perform after the heartbreak of 2018 when they did not make the World Cup. They brought Mancini in as a result and it has paid dividends. The coach is the main reason this team is such a strong squad and was the mastermind behind this run.

Jorginho spoke about Mancini’s impact on the team. He said, ‘Everyone has learned the philosophy. What the mister wants is up here in our heads… We want the ball, we want to find the spaces and go forward. Whoever is on the pitch tries to keep playing that philosophy’.

They played with a sense of urgency since they stayed aggressive even if the other team had the ball. This was what they did against every team they faced and it looks like they will keep doing so for upcoming events. 

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Italy deserved the trophy

Italy rewarded their hard work and dedication by winning the trophy. It was a stellar run as they continued to embark on their winning streak. They’ve won their 34th match in a row and it looks like it will keep going for the next few games. They are in the form of their lives since every player on the squad is locked in to help Italy stay in the top tier. 

They’ve proven themselves as the best team in Europe and they will need to ride the momentum en route to a good run in the World Cup in 2022. Europe is the only region that will play which means it’s a new challenge for Italy. Teams like Brazil and Argentina will be hard to play against since both of those teams have proven they are the best that South America has to offer.

Since that is a year away, Italy can be happy with the results of this event. They deserved to win it because of the way they thrived and won these games. They ground out results but they also dominated some games. They were the favourites and they lived up to the hype by beating England who had the best defence in the event.

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Who were the standout players in the event?

The Golden Boot was given to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo after he scored five goals for his team. They might have been eliminated early in the Round of 16 but the Juve star remains in the top tier of strikers in the world. He was not the only one with the award because Patrik Schick also scored five goals in a breakout run from the Czech Republic star.

The Golden Glove was given to England’s Jordan Pickford who was stellar during the whole event as he proved the doubters wrong. The Everton goalkeeper saved so many shots and kept multiple clean sheets in the event. Even if England lost the shootout in the final, Pickford did his best by saving two shots. He deserved this nod even if he wanted a trophy for his team as well.

For Italy, multiple stars deserve to be recognized. GK Gianluigi Donnarumma was a star for the squad at just 22 years of age. He kept clean sheets and he stopped so many shots that teams tried to score past Italy. The likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa, and Marco Verratti all deserve praise since they played so well from the start of the event until the grand final.

Europe is filled with so much talent because these players were not the only stars of the event. Honourable mentions go out to stars like Romelu Lukaku, the entire Denmark squad, Haris Seferovic, and many more. 

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: PA