Italy-Spain: Squadra Azzurra, more than a team


COHESION – The hymn declaimed loudly, explosions of joy, wild hugs … Before returning to Spain in half, Tuesday July 6 (at 9 p.m., live on TF1), Italy displays attitudes and behaviors that do not deceive. The notion of group, so dear to Roberto Mancini, has been set up as a pillar.

The images that speak for themselves. That of the Italians, in solidarity with Leonardo Spinazzola, victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon against Belgium (1-2), Friday, July 2, is worth every word. On the bus and then the plane back from Munich, after having validated their qualification for the semi-finals, the Azzurri took up a support song, launched by Federico Bernardeschi in the role of capo, for their teammate, who came out in tears on a stretcher the day before. This improvised tribute, filmed and shared on the Twitter account of the Nazionale, touched « Spina ». « With this large group, nothing is impossible », he reacted on Instagram.

« The group is living well », we are often used to hearing. The expression, very practical for evacuating suspicions of an internal crisis, is often overused. Football is made of these empty phrases. With this team from Italy, refreshing, exciting and uninhibited, the formula is not usurped. « She has an incredible desire, there is a great respect for roles, energy, friendship between the players and the desire to help each other », analyzed, elated, the former international Alessandro Del Piero, at the microphone of Sky Italia, after Italy-Belgium.

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Victories, like defeats, are often linked to group cohesion. On a field, it is not enough to align a sum of individuals to win. You have to succeed in creating a balance, a collective, a group. A close-knit and united team is more likely than players working individually. The Italian coach Roberto Mancini, at the origin of the rebirth of the Squadra Azzurra, always believed in it. He was able to shape this alchemy towards success, as Fernando Santos had achieved with Portugal at Euro 2016 or Didier Deschamps with France at the World Cup in 2018.

There is a desire for revenge on the part of the Italians– Denis Troch, mental trainer and former assistant coach of PSG

Collective emulation nourishes the surpassing of oneself. « Every Italian player knows why he is on the pitch. They are there, with a strong desire and determination. They have been doing very well since the start of the tournament and it is no accident « , analysis for LCI Denis troch, former assistant coach of PSG (1991-1994 then 1998-1999), and mental coach. « The competition is long and difficult. To get to the end, it is necessary for the team to disperse as little as possible, to spend as little energy on extraordinary situations, such as being down 1-0. and to be forced to return to the score. «  This has only happened once to Italy – September 4, 2020 against Bosnia and Herzegovina (1-1) – in the last 23 matches.

In the case of Nazionale, unbeaten for 32 games, absolute record in its long and glorious history, « there is also a desire for revenge on the last international championships », specifies the champion of France 1994, reconverted in the management and the mental preparation. « Italy needs to reconnect at the highest level », she, who, fallen in dams, was condemned to watch the last World Cup from her sofa, for the first time since 1958.

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Beyond this intention to do well, « there is real trust in others », adds Denis Troch. « We realize, over the course of the matches, that they do not have to talk to each other to understand each other. It is simply a matter of seeing the behaviors and attitudes, individual and collective, to understand what they are passing on to each other. .  » In this Euro, there are images that stand out. We remember the inhabited version of the Italian anthem during Turkey-Italy (0-3) at the Stadio Olimpico, with a staff and transcended players, who shout on Fratelli d’Italia. We think back to the embraces of the Italians at Wembley, celebrating with the same joy the goals against Belgium and the heroic rescue of Spinazzola back with great strides on his line in front of Lukaku. Or the immeasurable, almost childish happiness of Mancini and his staff – Vialli and De Rossi in the lead – after qualifying for the semi-finals.

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Turkey-Italy: The Italian anthem « Fratelli d’Italia » on video

These attitudes and behaviors, achieved collectively, erase the few apparent gaps in the game. A player will give his all to make up for the mistake of a teammate, while another will be decisive when his team struggles to make the difference. « To win, we know that we do not have to be ready all at the same time. In certain circumstances, a stop by a goalkeeper or a captured aerial ball will relieve the team. The same with a player who scores quickly so as not to having to run after the score. These things, the Italians have already achieved. It was never the same player who had an impact on the result « , notes the former deputy of Arthur Jorge at PSG, semi-finalist of the Coupe des Coupes in 1994. « Even an absent (Leonardo Spinazzola, editor’s note) is going to have an impact on the engagement they can have. They are going to give more for this player. « 

This group, whose ties have grown closer to the point of becoming a bunch of friends, can reasonably consider going to win their second Euro, the first since 1968, played at home and with only three teams in the finals. « Italians have reason to believe in their possibilities, since they know this kind of situation. They have lived through important moments, they have known that. They have a situational reference, which they or their predecessors have experienced », says Denis Troch. « They can work on, what I called, achievement goals, that is to say, create your future by going and looking for what you have already done and achieved recently. Their last matches are great references. for them. » The victory against the Belgian individuals, the best team in the Fifa ranking, confirmed it: nothing is bigger and stronger than a united group.

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