Rarely will the final have been so played on the sidelines, where the two coaches, the Englishman Gareth Southgate and the Italian Roberto Mancini, carried their group at arm’s length for more than two hours, extra time and a penalty shootout. included. True national hero before the hour after having brought the English selection to a level worthy of the inventor country of football, Gareth Southgate had, as usual, adopted from the start a flexible tactic, adapted according to him to the Italian block.
The recipe worked one half after his players had opened the entry mark, before skating during the second half and extra time, against the Italian block who never panicked, or even cracked. This choice of surprise and the wrong way was fatal to him at the end of extra time, when he threw two star strikers, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, 23 and 21, in the deep end in the 120e minute, just before the penalty shootout, which they both missed. Too cold no doubt, too young perhaps and certainly not paralyzed by the stake.
→ CONTEXT. Euro 2021: England has an appointment with Italy for its first final
Earlier in the match, he also chose to bring in the very young Bukayo Saka, 19, powerless to weigh on the Italian defense and then also the author of a missed penalty. “I chose the shooters, it was a bet”, The England coach, himself unhappy when he was a player, said after the match during the Euro 1996 semi-final penalty shoot-out against Germany, already at Wembley.
The same game system since 2018
Quite the opposite of the Italian Roberto Mancini who stuck to a game system adopted shortly after taking office in 2018 and which he has more or less kept over an incredible series of 34 games in a row without defeat. Basically, a defense focused on two old grumblers of 34 and 36 years, Leonardo Bonucci and captain Giorgio Chiellini (the first scored the equalizer goal Sunday July 11 in overtime) and a collective of young offensive players, none of whom does not star or overshadow his teammates.
Breaking with the defensive tradition to the boredom of a selection accustomed to winning a lot without shining, the former striker of Sampdoria of Genoa, never really recognized in the selection as a player, imposed an offensive and fast paw resuming on his own the style of Spain that Italy beat in the semifinals. The victory at the Euro rewards his patient reconstruction work.
It restores confidence after the 2018 World Cup fiasco
In May 2018, however, few of them were in a hurry to take over from Gian Piero Ventura after the humiliation of a knock-out loss against Sweden at the end of 2017, which deprived Squadra Azzura of the World Cup for the first time. times since 1958. Roberto Mancini, then coach of Zenith Saint-Petersburg after a long career dotted with success with his successive clubs (he was champion of Italy with Inter Milan and England with Manchester City ) had been named with some skepticism. The great Carlo Ancelotti, much more famous than him, had declined a position deemed untenable, where the pressure is enormous.
His first job was to restore confidence after the fiasco against Sweden: “He’s a man of few words, but he created a great group and he revived a team that was at its lowest in 60 years. With great serenity, he transmits calm and confidence ”, analyzed his captain Roberto Chiellini on the UEFA website, three days before the final.
Motionless and calm despite tics betraying his inner fire, the coach speaks a lot to his players during the match, some not hesitating to waste a few seconds along the sidelines to seek advice, proof of immense confidence. “At the beginning, when he told us to keep in mind the idea of winning the Euro, we thought he was crazy, added Roberto Chiellini. MBut it was a dream that he slowly instilled in our minds, until it came true. “