Mancini- Veni Vidi Vici

Back in 2019, when Italy scored 19 goals in four matches in their Euro qualifiers, including nine goals in a match against Armenia, I had posted on a social media network that this resurgent team was surely going to make amends for missing the previous World Cup version and chances were high that this team under Mancini would soon regain the status of a soccer giant. I was heavily trolled by the so-called football pundits for being football ignorant. Some had commented that I was being too emotional and it was wrong on my part to judge a team by just a few matches. The post became a laughing stock. It was easily forgotten that I have been supporting a team since 1990 that had won four World Cups, one Euro cup. They had been the Runners Up in the world cup twice and had the same figures in Euro, too. Today, as Italy becomes the numero uno in their group to reach the round of sixteen of the Euro Cup and many seasonal football lovers have started hailing this side, charged with never-seen-before energy, I am feeling content. I have not put my bet on a lame horse for the past three decades.
Italy under Mancini has been a revelation. And quite a revolution, too. Blue revolution, we may call. Gone are the days when Italy would score a goal from a set-piece and then all of the players including the lone striker would hide in the shell to defend the post. The catenaccio style of play had its own charm and had enticed many football lovers like me across the goal for its sheer resolute of not conceding goals. Baressi, Maldini, Cannavaro, Nesta all greats were the products of the system and they were backed by legendary goalies, the likes of the illustrious Buffon, Joff , Pagliuca or Zenga. But the system had to change considering the new style of football Europe has invented in the last decade or so. The new world of football demanded electrifying speed, enduring strength, and relentless stamina. One reason Italy could not reach the World Cup 2018 was its inability to adapt to the changing conditions. The world had already embraced the style of football offered by the likes of Mbappe’, Hazard or Perisic, groomed so well in the European club-style football.
Roberto Mancini after taking charge of the team back in May 2018 had to make a paradigm shift in the football culture of the nation. They were still reeling after their dreams of reaching the World Cup had been shattered after a playoff defeat to Sweden. Many of the maestros after their long and illustrious careers had bid adieu. Buffon, Barzagli, De Rossi all were in the same league. Even Chiellini who made a come back later on had announced his retirement after the heartbreaking exit. Mancini had to build a castle from dust and the first task he had to do was to marshal all his resources and instill confidence in them. The immensely talented Insigne who had been mostly warming the reserve bench in the previous regime was asked to lead the attack. Immobile, the Lazio forward was asked to forget whatever he had been hitherto doing and to do whatever he loved. And one thing he genuinely loved- scoring goals, something the old Italian style was not very fond of. Mancini persuaded Chiellini to make a comeback from retirement and asked him to don the captain’s armband and lead the team to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. The legendary defender along with another veteran Bonucci formed the two pillars of the rock-solid defense and assured their timid yet talented teammates to come out of the shell and play by their instinct. They were there to hold the fort along with other talented defenders like Florenzi, Acerbi, Di Lorenzo, or Ederson. They already had another Gianluigi to guard the goalpost- Gianluigi Donnaruma, the prodigy who had been nurtured by the greatest of all himself- Gianluigi Buffon.
Mancini’s dream was backed by the pool of emerging players in the land of blues. Chiesa, Jorginho, Veratti, Spinazzola, Berardi, Belotti, Locatelli all started responding to the trust the head coach was having in them. They had to break free. They had to fight against a belief system that Italy could not attack. The nation trusted Mancini, Mancini trusted his players and the players trusted their own skills. And the result was a resplendent side surging ahead with a newfound zeal and vigor. The new Italy had the hunger to score, the right appetite for wins. This indeed left a strong impact on their club football as well. This was evident when Juventus could not win the latest version of the Serie A. Two Milans, Atalanta, Napoli, Roma , Lazio all the prominent Serie A teams were now hounding for goals and finally, Inter Milan clinched the title. Juventus was knocked off from their throne after almost a decade. Italian football regained democracy.
This team is unbeaten in their last thirty matches. They had scored thirty-seven goals in the ten Euro qualifiers and won all of the matches. They have already reached the Semis of the UEFA Nations League where they will meet Spain in October. They have impressed all the football fans alike with their new style of football which has everything in it- Tikitaka passing, hints of Latin American skills, Central European speed, and their own style of defense. What they do in the coming few weeks will be so very interesting to watch. They have so many things to gain now. Whatever they do, we, the eternal Azzurri fans will salute one man, the one who had this belief of transformation. The one who could envision. Mancini- Veni Vidi Vici. All hail the Azzurris.

News Reporter

2 thoughts on “Mancini- Veni Vidi Vici

  1. Another reason that led to this brand new Italian football renaissance, Mancini himself was a advanced playmaker or a deep-lying centre forward. So attacking football is in his genes, naturally what Mancini brings to the table is attacking football and the current Italian team has embraced his football philosophy to the core.

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