Monday, 18 June 2012

Euro 2012: Italy make it look difficult, as usual

Well, guess which game I was watching?

I'm one of those fans who are always pessimistic, and I've determined over the years that this is the best way to root for Italy. After all, it's a team that's had two abject tournaments in a row, after having won the World Cup in 2006. And frankly, they looked at several points tonight like continuing that streak.

There was the early scare - I'm talking within the first minute - where Robbie Keane was through on goal. And, not to get too arrogant or anything, but I couldn't help but be worried that Italy didn't score against Ireland within the first five minutes... y'know, the way Spain and Croatia both did.

But more seriously, once the goal did come, there was the ever-present worry that Italy would just sit back on that lead. In fairness, they didn't - at least not straight away - but as the minutes wore on into the second half, there was a definite sense of Italy losing momentum. Add to that the ever-present fear of Spain and Croatia drawing in the concurrent game, and it was easy to get a little impatient with the Azzurri.

But Italy regained the initiative, and a goal from Mario Balotelli helped see off Ireland for once and all. And from there, I switched over to the Spain-Croatia game, just long enough to see Croatia fail to equalize, and go crashing out as well.

Phew. Breath released.

So now it's going to be England. Or France. Or perhaps even Ukraine. But at the very least, Italy's finally won a major tournament game again, and kept a clean sheet, and scored two goals in a game. Not exactly a set of achievements to set the pulse racing, but one has to start somewhere.

Roll on the quarterfinals!