UEFA Euro 1980 would see an introduction to a new-look tournament featuring eight teams. Italy did not make it past the group stage but cemented the base of a side that would go on to become World Cup champions two years later. Belgium’s golden generation proved to be the tournament surprise despite losing to mighty West Germany in the Final.
Euro 1976 seemed set to give us another chapter of an unfolding football rivalry as West Germany and the Netherlands found themselves together at the latter stages of a European Finals for the first time. However, the stage was stolen by Czechoslovakia and a mostly unknown player whose name would eventually go on to become a verb: Antonin Panenka.
Belgium seemed to be a fitting neutral host nation in the climate of Cold War relations and it was perhaps for that reason that it was chosen to host the European Championship in 1972. The tournament retained the four-team format that had by now become familiar and there was no doubt as to which team went into it as favorites: Gerd Muller’s debuting West Germany.
This week we look at UEFA Euro 1968, a year of firsts, a year of chance and a very different competition to the tournament we know today. Italy were the host nation and went on to win their only European championship to date in a pretty unconventional manner – making their way past the USSR by means of a coin toss and beating Yugoslavia in a Final that was played twice.
Before Xavi and co. had ushered international football into an era of Spanish dominance, you would have been forgiven for not recalling the last name to come close to landing some silverware for La Roja. The Euro 1964 hero, Luis Suarez, managed to bring the best out of his teammates on the way to lifting the only trophy Spain would claim for the next 44 years.
In the lead up to what will be a historic UEFA Euro 2020, The Cult of Calcio will be offering a look into the past, turning over the extraordinary moments that have been a part of one of the greatest events in international sport. Today, we begin with a look at the very beginning, a tournament that would belong to one man: USSR’s legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
There is a reason why Italy’s dazzling 9-1 win over a modest Armenia selection is sending the whole world of calcio in raptures. Historically, the Italians have not exactly been known for their offensive style of play, their football credo being rather exemplified by the notorious catenaccio. Roberto Mancini is on a mission to change that perception.
Mission accomplished. Roberto Mancini and the Azzurri booked their ticket to Euro 2020 as they trailed Greece 2-0 in Rome on Saturday. It was a tougher match than expected for the Italian side, but winning was the only thing that mattered. The Azzurri did so by means of a penalty by Jorginho and a sharp conversion by Federico Bernardeschi.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy run fast towards Euro 2020. The Azzurri need only three more points to book a European Championship ticket as they won 1-2 in Finland on Sunday, with Jorginho giving the visitors the decisive lead, after conceding an equalizer to Teemu Pukki. Ciro Immobile had marked Italy’s opener to end his two-year scoring drought with the Nazionale jersey.
With more struggling than expected, Italy disposed of Armenia to grab their fifth win out of five Euro 2020 Qualification games. Tonight’s victory was propitiated by Andrea Belotti, who equalized for the Azzurri and eventually put his stamp on the third goal, after the hosts had taken an early lead. Lorenzo Pellegrini scored the second for Roberto Mancini’s band.
The Azzurri have learned to suffer. It was a battle with no quarter on Tuesday at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, where Italy knocked down Bosnia with goals by Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti, coming from behind in the second half to neutralize Edin Dzeko’s opener. Roberto Mancini’s boys caught the fourth win in four Euro 2020 qualification games.
Grabbing six points in the two initial games of their Euro 2020 Qualifiers should be put in the right perspective: Group J is far from being a difficult one. Still, Italy’s 6-0 win over Liechtenstein last night, embellished by a double by Fabio Quagliarella and a new goal by young talent Moise Kean, was enough to warm the hearts of Italian supporters.