Despite the superstitions, this time Gianluca Vialli was not the last to board the national team bus to the airport to take the direct flight to London, but arrived in England before the Azzurri. Tonight, Italy faces Austria at Wembley, thanks to the perfect balance so far of three wins, seven goals (the most scored by only Holland, eight) and zero (as England). On the other hand, the das Italia team inspires with sweet memories: in 1936 the Annibale Frosi duo gave us the Olympic gold, in 1978 Papleto Rossi secured us the only victory in the second stage of the World Cup, in 1990 Toto Schillaci opened the magical nights of the World Championship in our country .
For the Azzurri “another European started,” as Roberto Mancini recalls one minute after the end of the match against Wales. And the coach, in the last ballot still open, appears to have chosen Verratti at Locatelli. So said the last training session held at Coverciano because the gardeners had to rearrange the lawn at Wembley, especially in the penalty areas. The other jerseys have already been decided, by Acerbi and Di Lorenzo substituting Chiellini and Florenzi (still out of yesterday’s session) to the returning Spinazzola, as a result of the European player with the highest top speed (33.8 km along with Hungarian Nego). Italy that no longer has the blocks of the past – just two Lazio and Napoli, all the others from different teams – and only one Juventus player, Bonucci, who tonight will hit 106 tokens in the blue. Twenty-two thousand spectators in the stands, only 1,200 Italian fans all based in the UK as infection data for the virus variant is causing concern.
“We’ve already had a double dose of the vaccine, and we’re calm…” Mancini stressed with a smile. Who goes back to Wembley, where he lived bitter evenings (watched the 1992 Champions Cup final with Sampdoria) or dessert (the International Federation Cup he won in 2011 when he coached City). “It’s a great stadium, we have to play well in order to respect the temple,” said the coach. Who wants to «continue to enjoy the thanks of his players, I am having a quiet night because whoever enters the field will be fine. It’s nice to find it hard to have so many options.” Bonucci considers Austria to be stronger than our former opponents and from being beautiful “You can also get ugly, dirty, and bad.” Mancini considers it “a fierce, fast and high-quality team. We have to play a great game because they press well.”
The atmosphere of magical nights in Rome is far away, and Wembley is the first away match for the Azzurri. “In any case, we will play in front of 22,000 fans, the atmosphere will be beautiful. We will have to play our game and our football from here to the end, which hopefully will give us three more challenges after this one.” Pozzo’s broken record, with 31 useful hits in a row, could be another catalyst. And if we keep a clean sheet, Italy will even outperform Zoff. But in the meantime, let’s take the Munich pass, and we’ll see the rest.
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