How Mancini Deceived The World Only To Reveal His True Italian Colors

“This is the most entertaining Italy we’ve ever seen”, “Mancini has Changed the Azzurri’s mentality style”.

From the beginning of the European Championship (and perhaps even prior to it), these have been the general views of football fans and observers all around the world.

The Old Ways

Since the rise of the modern game, Italian football had always been known as tactical, defensive-minded and too rigid. Whether it’s the national team or an Italian club, their opponents would often curse their luck whenever they had to face their unpleasant foes from the peninsula.

Nonetheless, putting substance over style had brought the Italians some great results in the past, on both international and club levels. Therefore, convincing them to abandon the old ways and embrace a more modern style was always going to be a tough task.

New School

However, slowly but surely, a new school of thought has arisen in Serie A, and whilst Roberto Mancini can easily pass as the handsome poster boy for the “new Italian way”, his work would have been impossible to achieve had the players at his disposal not been previously groomed by the likes of Gian Piero Gasperini, Maurizio Sarri and Roberto De Zerbi.

The former Inter and Manchester City manager has been known for adopting a balanced approach throughout his career. He was never one to favor rigid defenses, but he was also far from being the most entertaining of coaches.

And yet, after setting some extraordinary stats with the Azzurri (undefeated for 33 matches and counting) whilst playing quality football, the Sampdoria legend’s reputation has never been any higher.

Strong Start

Those who weren’t paying attention for the major transformation happening within the Italian camp prior to Euro 2020 certainly took notice right from the opening fixture, when the men in blue completely dominated Turkey at the Olimpico, and kept pushing until they left the pitch with three goals.

A similar scenario was witnessed against Switzerland, and more importantly in the quarter finals against a Belgium side that was terrifying on paper.

Italy took a deserved lead in the first half, but rather than adopting their traditional approach and dropping back to defend a slim lead – they went on with their onslaught, and got themselves another goal.

Deception Time

Following their major victory over the Belgians, Mancini and Italy became the favorites to win it all, and most observers tipped them to overcome Spain in the semi finals, as the latter side struggled to reach this stage of the tournament.

But whilst most of us expected Italy to continue with their newly-found brand of football and sweep La Roja aside with another exciting performance, perhaps we didn’t pay enough attention to the clues that the manager dropped in his pre-match press conference.

“We can’t become Spain just like that,” Mancini explained in his pre-match press conference as published by Marca.

“We are Italy and we have our own style.

“They have a very defined style and we are Italy.”

As you can see, the 56-year-old knew he couldn’t beat Spain at their own game, and the Iberians are years ahead of his nation in their possession-based approach.

Therefore, Mancini played his biggest trick thus far, as he reverted towards his Italian origins, allowing Spain to hold the ball for as much as they liked, while his side focused on sniping them on the counter attacks.

And that is exactly what happened at the hour-mark, when Federico Chiesa seemingly came out of nowhere to pounce on a lose ball and give Italy the lead.

Although Alvaro Morata managed to escape Giorgio Chiellini and sabotaged Mancini’s plan, but one can’t deny the fact that it was some tactical masterclass from the veteran coach, and almost greatly-executed by his players.


Whilst Mancini managed to deceive the world by making them believe that Italy have abandoned their traditional style, the semi final battle against Spain proved that the Italians will forever revert to the old ways whenever their legacy is on the line.

And even though we enjoyed the entertaining style displayed earlier in the campaign, for Calcio fans, the pleasure of watching the Azzurri labor their way into a hard-fought victory remains unparalleled, and they will be hoping for one more glorious night at Wembley on Sunday night.

Read More – Italy – Spain Player Ratings: Chiesa, The King of Wembley