Euro 2020: Italy bets on youth and fun

As a player four decades ago Mancini was an exception to this rule, making his debut at 16, becoming an international long before he turned 20. change the culture.

The problem, for him, was a lack of opportunity, not a lack of capacity. “Maybe you are a little afraid to let the young players play,” he said shortly after taking up the post of national team coach. “It’s just a matter of time. You just have to believe it.”

The Frecciarossa high-speed train that gathered the Italian team in Florence on Thursday had been specially painted, its bullet-shaped front end adorned with a streak of bright blue. The trip to Rome would only take a few hours. When the team landed, however, the plan was for the players to reunite in 1990.

It is the first time since that year’s World Cup that Italy has hosted a major international tournament. Rome may be one of the side stages of Euro 2020 – London has more matches than anywhere else, including the semi-finals and the final – but it was more than enough to rekindle the memory.

The authorities have encouraged him: the opening ceremony on Friday will feature tenor Andrea Bocelli, playing the role of Luciano Pavarotti and singing “Nessun Dorma”, the soundtrack of this Italian World Cup.

The media perpetuated it: Italy will play the opening match, La Gazzetta dello Sport noted this week, in the stadium that housed so much of what, in 1990, became known as notti magiche: magical nights. Even Mancini embraced him, his decision to call Sassuolo’s unsung striker Giacomo Raspadori seemingly an attempt to unearth his own Totò Schillaci, the captivating icon of that long and sultry Italian summer three decades ago.

For the first time in a long time, the country seems to have a team capable of carrying its history lightly. Mancini’s Italy have not lost in 27 games since the end of 2018. At one point, they had won 11 consecutive games, a record. He may not have faced any of his putative rivals for the crown this summer – the Netherlands aside – but the sense of momentum is undeniable.

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