EURO 2020- ITALY VS AUSTRIA: 3 TALKING POINTS
SRINIVAS SADHANAND | 27th June 2021
It took more than 120 minutes of football to decide a winner as Italy made hard work of an excellent Austria side to confirm their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. A double whammy for Austria came during extra-time, with goals from Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina doing the business for Italy.
A late Sasa Kalajdzic header wasn’t enough to save the spirited Austrians from exiting the competition as the Azzurri’s terrific squad depth made the difference on the night.
Here’s our 3 talking points from a contest that outdid all our expectations.
Italy needed this hiccup more than they think
The Azzurri have been the most complete outfit at Euro 2020, bar none. Champagne football and goals galore, Roberto Mancini’s troops genuinely resemble an elite club side that train and play together, week in, week out. To the point where it almost felt like were running on auto-pilot during the group stages. Until last night.
Despite keeping the ball like they had rented it in the first-half, the Italians barely tested Daniel Bachmann in the 1st half. And if we expected them to put Austria to the sword in the 2nd, what transpired couldn’t be further from the truth.
The underdogs were far and away the better side and for once, Italy looked ordinary.
While Mancini’s substitutions worked to a tee as Chiesa and Pessina stamped Italy’s place in the last 8 in emphatic fashion, owing to the side’s enviable strength-in-depth, it was far from comfortable until the final whistle.
As tiresome as cliches are, winning ugly when things aren’t going your way is a sign of not just champions but knowing that there’s also another sauce out there when your secret golden recipe isn’t quite working.
As one of either the defending champions, Portugal or the No. 1 ranked team in the world, Belgium await their fates, Italy know that the sailing won’t be smooth because they’re up against either of these European juggernauts.
And Austria provided a trailer to what that could look like as the Azzurri ended things in blockbuster fashion.
Austria should be proud of themselves
The idea of a team “deserving more” can be an irrelevant talking point, considering how it discounts any ounce of efficiency in front of goal by the opposition for the side that just made for better viewing. However, in this instance, even the most miserable of cynics must laud Austria for that masterclass in relentlessness.
You’d struggle to find even the game’s smartest minds giving Austria even a sniff before a ball was kicked. David Alaba’s men and tunnel vision were synonymous, however. The tireless pressing of Xaver Schlagger and Konrad Laimer whilst Martin Hintregger and Alexander Dragovic making Italy look out of ideas in the final third showed everyone glued to their television that this team is willing to die for the cause.
And Marko Arnautovic dribbling past 3 Azzurri defenders off the back of a Bonucci error showed there’s finesse coupled with the fight.
And speaking of Arnautovic, his disallowed opener was nothing less than undeserved, considering how the Austrians bossed the Italians, with and without the ball in the 2nd 45.
On another day, if Sabitzer hadn’t missed a sitter or say Arnautovic had stayed onside, Austria could well and truly have done the Italian job.
For now, all they can do is expect a stunning homecoming as real heroes. Sasa Kalajdzic certainly deserves one after an impossible header that broke Italy’s streak of 0 goals conceded after 1168 minutes.
Chiesa In, Insigne Out
Coming off the plane to Euro 2020 off the back of 19 goals and 7 assists for Napoli in the Serie A, Lorenzo Insigne was expected to explode. Instead, the Insigne implosion hasn’t been a pretty sight. Predictable and off-the-boil aren’t terms you’d associate with one of Europe’s true wizards out wide.
Unfortunately for the Neapolitan wideman, he once again looked like a one-trick pony, incessantly cutting inside on his favored right-foot while losing possession, due to desperately find a way out of his rut.
Leonardo Bonucci’s sniper-like long passes weren’t the secret formula as well, considering Insigne paid homage to the legendary Inzaghi by constantly straying offside.
On the opposite spectrum of things, Federico Chiesa paid homage to his iconic father, Enrico Chiesa by also scoring on English soil at the Euros, 25 years after his old man’s goal at Anfield.
And it was some goal. Somehow controlling the strange bounce off his shoulder, after Spinazzola’s ball in, his touch to take it past Konrad Laimer spun the RB Leipzig man and the volley with his left peg was tremendous.
To come off the bench and score the winner in extra-time are obvious reasons for the Juventus man to be hailed as a hero. But with 12 goals and 9 assists in all competitions, this idea that Chiesa has had a poor season is a myth.
Reward form and start this lad, Mr. Mancini.