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.
Joaquin Peiró passed away today at 84. He was a striker for the Grande Inter, an invincible lineup that won everything possible between 1962 and 1966 – Three Scudetto, two European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup. The goal Peiró scored to Liverpool in a European Cup Semi-Final invariably grabs one of the top spots in any Nerazzurro’s hall of fame.
The Premier League is home to hundreds of overseas players, but go back twenty years or so and there were much fewer in the English top-flight than there is today. Foreign players were seen as exotic, flamboyant and simply different from what English football fans were used to. One player who was certainly different, but for all the right reasons, was Gianfranco Zola.
Matchday 24 of Serie A witnessed another round of net busters that were absolute crackers. Ashley Young registered his first goal with the Nerazzurri, Paulo Dybala took the free-kick duties in Ronaldo’s absence, and it took Mario Pasalic of Atalanta just 19 seconds to score his fifth goal of the campaign, and more importantly, his team’s winner against Roma.
“Out with the old and in with the new.” This is Roma’s new year’s resolution. The Italian capital-based club is on the verge of a change of ownership as American billionaire Dan Friedkin is set to buy it from his fellow countryman James Pallotta. The Wolves issued a statement on Monday confirming that they are in talks with The Friedkin Group.
And so, Milan it is. Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided to continue his seemingly-endless career with another stop in the red-and-black side of Milano. But while Ibra’s Second Coming is surely a hit for Serie A, the signing of a 38-year-old looks more like a temporary Band-Aid than the fruit of some calculated planning on the part of the Rossoneri management.
The year is 1999. In the South of Sweden, Malmo FF prepare for a new season, and looking to bring more firepower to their attack they choose to give a chance to a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Fast forward 20 years, and the same man is still making headlines: After terminating his contract with Los Angeles Galaxy, Zlatan seems to be looking for a new challenge.
Ciro Immobile is a particular kind of striker. He has always scored, in every team he played. At the same time, he has also always shown some limits, especially when he tried to take his career to the next level. That is one of the reasons why public opinion never seems to have ever considered him a top striker, even though his scoring stats with Lazio are impressive.
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.