It’s been over 13 years since Italy won the 2006 World Cup, a historic feat as they became the second country in the world to hit 4 World Cup final wins (Germany became the 3rd after 2014).
As Italy’s golden age of football came to an end; consisting of Del Piero, Maldini, and Francesco Totti – players like Mario Balotelli and Gianluigi Buffon excited many fans for a new era of great Italian Football . Unfortunately, the excitement was smashed, as for the next two World Cups, Italy failed to make the knockout stages carrying the infamous World Cup curse (since the 2002 World Cup, all but one of the champions from the previous tournament were knocked out in the group stages. Those countries were France, Italy, Spain, and Germany).
Italy was somewhat successful in the Euro tournaments, making the knockout stages for all of them, including a finals appearance where they got bashed 4-0 by a legendary Spain squad consisting of Iker Casillas, Xavi, Iniesta, Francesco Torres, and many more. Nonetheless, Italy is expected to be doing well, as they are 4x world champions, after all.
In the fall of 2017, the biggest shock of them all. Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958, as they surprisingly lost to a Zlatan-less Sweden side in aggregate (1-0). The horror has to stop at some point for Italy and it finally will.
One of the main reasons for Italy’s poor results was the horrendous management from previous managers. For example, the fact that legendary coach Antonio Conte’s replacement was an irrelevant old head from Serie C (Gian Piero Ventura), that’s when you know you’re going to have problems. Luckily, it seems Italy has finally learned their lesson as their new manager is Roberto Mancini; the manager who kickstarted Manchester City’s road to glory. It seems like Italy’s hiring was a success as Italy was the quickest team to qualify for the Euro’s with an undefeated record of 10-0
Though it may seem that it simply was just that players like Mario Balotelli couldn’t reach their star potentials, there really is a deeper meaning to it. The 2006 Serie A scandal, better known as Calciopoli. Juventus and several other big clubs such as Inter Milan and A.C. Milan were relegated to Serie B due to match fixing. This led to many superstar players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave the club and made these big clubs go into debt as they desperately spent money to find quality players to fill the void. It only seems that Juventus got hurt the least as they were the only team not in debt, which helped them improve in the future. This trend leads for other Serie A clubs to spend on talent outside of Italy and make it much harder for young Italian prospects to shine. Calciopoli really took a hit on Italian football and helped Juventus monopolize the league and become unstoppable for years to come.
It’s been over a decade since the infamous scandal, and thought this will be a hard scar for Italian Football to recover from; they have been healing. Italy has a very bright future with superstar potential players such as A.C. Milan’s brick wall, Gianluigi Donnarumma. At just the age of 20, he is taking Serie A by storm and analysts are already predicting him to be the best keeper in the world by 4 years from now. More players such as Evertonian and Moise Kean – who even though isn’t having the best season in the Prem, has netted in 7 goals in 16 league starts for his previous Juventus career. Mind you, he is only 19 years old!
Another Italian youngster, Alessio Romagnoli a centre back for A.C. Milan, certainly looks like he is the real deal with over 34 aerial duels won and a 90 percent passing percentage. One more player to top off the exciting hype of Italy is Nicolo Barella, a 22-year-old midfielder who can make dangerous plays as long as he has the ball. With 3 goals and 2 assists in the Euro qualifiers, he is without a doubt a huge player in Italy’s national squad.
So there you have it, the fall and hopeful rise of Italian Football. Facing humiliation since 2010, the wait is almost over for the Italians. Many still doubt them, but this is the end of the rebuild era, and time for the golden era. With star players such as Ciro Immobile (who scored a staggering 17 goals in 1202 minutes played this season), Lorenzo Insigne, Marco Verratti, and Jorginho, there is simply no reason why this team can’t win the Euros next year.
With a perfect record in the Euro qualifiers don’t doubt this fierce Italian team. Though Italy has a tough group stage with Nations League finalists Switzerland, and the Gareth Bale led Wales; Italy is still my favorite to advance. While huge powerhouse teams like France, Belgium, and Portugal being the huge favorites to win the famous tournament, don’t be surprised if you see captain Giorgio Chiellini raising the Henri Delaunay trophy on July 12th, 2020 while the country of Italy will be screaming “campioni!” for the first time in a long time.