Let’s take back Italy against all the “ifs”

It’s best to tell yourself now: we are trapped. Trapped after three years in which we lost only one game, we won the European Championship, we recovered seventeen positions in the world ranking, finishing fourth. We are in the trap of the “ifs”. If we win one to zero, if Switzerland passes three to Bulgaria, if we are condemned by the goal difference or rather the balance of the head-to-head matches. There is only one way to get us out of the trap of self and snatch a passport for Qatar: to win big. To go out tonight with a load of goals from a stadium, that of Windsor Park, where even no national team in the group has yet scored one. Mancini is required to make an effort by Theseus: to free his Ariadne from the labyrinth of Knossos, to escape the nightmare of the minotaur by following the thread of reason and without ever looking back. What does it mean: to understand what is behind the decline in performance and results of the national team and to remedy it with courage.
The reason suggests that Italy has become predictable. Because there is a lack of decisive men, because the opponents have understood that we only play one type of game and why we do it with less speed. Without Spinazzola we lack the ability to lunge on the left wing, without Verratti we lack an alternative to Jorginho in the construction of the maneuver. Switzerland sensed that by marking the Italian-Brazilian he would have taken away vital oxygen. So it was. With a tidy four-five-one he got us into the maze, and with a clever counter-attack he stabbed us through.
Our dribble has become a hesitant ti… ki… ta… ka…, a parody that seemed to be built in the Var. And the counterattack? Who has seen? If Italy renounces to dribble fast and deny itself the alternative of the counterattack, it can also fall with Northern Ireland. It means that we have to play first to prevent the doubling of the marking and then aim the opponent in one-on-one, with men capable of doing so. It means placing Chiesa and Berardi together, not just one of the two. Again, it means demanding that the midfielders or the winger alternate in lunges on the flanks. We need to make it clear to Emerson and Di Lorenzo that sometimes it is better to lose the ball in dribbling than to pass it back for the thirty-fifth time, giving you and your opponents the feeling of your own powerlessness to sting. Lastly, it means putting Insigne in a position to play in the last thirty meters, not halfway on the pitch. Those who have studied him thoroughly know that the quality of his performances depends on where he is positioned to receive the ball: the more he starts in front, the less effort he has on his shoulders and the more chance of being creative and decisive.
In addition to reason, it takes courage. The height of the risk dictates it. Aiming to win big means setting aside the criteria of reliability and experience, and daring. Give a shirt to whoever is better off. Not Belotti, only because he is a center forward, if he doesn’t have the game in his legs. Not Barella, if he is not in a position to be a Barella. It is not a gamble to bet on Tonali’s athletic freshness, because his twenty-one years are four more than the seventeen of the Spaniard Gavi, who beat us a month ago.
Nobody can doubt Mancini’s courage. If we are here, it is thanks to his ability to focus on young people who are still unfinished and on discarded outsiders, from the national team or from the clubs. However, the victories have a conservative effect and lead to the preservation of the balance that produced them. This temptation was, after the success of Wembley, a forgivable miscalculation. Since Italy is aiming for Qatar, and with full rights, it will never have to stop evolving. Starting tonight, let’s take back the confidence, the gamble, the character that brought us to the throne of Europe. Against all “ifs”.

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