It’s just you can never write off the Germans and Jogi looked like he’d cracked it this time. But then he, them, it imploded, Mario style.
But let me take you back, way, way, back – cue wavy lines – to before that first game in Poland. One morning I opened the paper and there was the bookies odds for the tournament and there was Italy right around the same odds as England. Couldn’t quite believe that. Yes they had a piss easy group and the last World Cup was a complete disaster, finishing below New Zealand.
But they’re coming off the back of a scandal.
And that, only that made me think it’s going to be Italy. Spain are reigning champions and world champions but there’s something missing with them – no one to stick the ball in the net with out David Villa – the Germans looked imperious but Italian football was on the verge of self destruction. It could only be them.
But I didn’t back ’em, it was about 14 or 16 to 1, didn’t back anyone.
So here we are again as in ’82 and as in ’06 the Italians are in a major tournament final following match fixing scandal in their domestic game. Yet again it seems the players in the national side seem to think and play as if it’s down to them to save their game, redemption, to make the fans back home believe in the game again right up until the next scandal which probably won’t be too far away.
I also didn’t figure on Joachim Löw blowing it.
Yes you have to combat Pirlo – who I did stick in every fantasy team right from the off – more than say England did but to bugger up the way the team played just for one man was a poor choice. Especially as it didn’t work. Hubris, after his three changes in the quarter succeeded? If he’d played that side and in that way it may have not worked but you feel there’d be more chance. But then they might have just been as disjointed as it was last night.
Inept defending from Germany can’t take away from a couple of great goals from Balotelli. First was from brilliant play starting with Pirlo intending to pass to the Italian left being blocked off, he turned and created the space to get the pass in – no useless Parker pirouette here – the left back Chiellini played a nice ball into Cassano and then moved to receive the ball back, somewhat freezing the defenders around the number 10, who turned lovely crossed the ball right on the Mario’s head.
A reaction from Balotelli. Is it the first time we’ve seen him do anything but stand there stony faced after scoring?
Second from a German corner and Montolivo seems momentarily lost before splitting the defence with a ball that cut apart England time and time again this time though Mario was on it and finished with a hell of a strike. And anther reaction followed as he ripped of his shirt and flexed menacingly. Automatic booking and how many thought he would pick up a second yellow later on to miss the final?
He didn’t as Italy hung on with some stout defending and wasting a number of pretty clear chances to finish the Germans. But they seemed finished well before that. Just a look of their fans told a story as they stood, stunned and somewhat resigned to the fact that yet again they’ve failed to beat Italy in a competitive match. Tears running down the cheeks.
Jogi made chances at half-time but it made little difference, too disjointed, a bit headless chickens at times they almost looked like England – now there’s an insult.
Late consolation penalty was probably flattering as the right team on the night won.