Euro 2016 has been full of surprises so far. Teams like Iceland and Wales are making a name for themselves. Powerhouses like England and Spain have been eliminated early in the tournament. It is clear that no matter the talent, the European championship is up for grabs. Italy have been on the decline for years and are looking to prove themselves in a tournament they haven’t won since 1968.
The Italians have defied the odds in this Euro Cup, beating the former champions, Spain, and winning a group that included one of the tournament favorites, Belgium. Antonio Conte’s next task is to prepare his squad to face the current World Cup champions, Germany. Even though Italy is not favored to win the contest, there are five reasons why they should be able to defeat the Germans.
Germany Has A Horrible Track Record Playing Against Italy
Germany has never beaten Italy in a competitive match. The Germans have crossed paths with the Italians multiple times in world soccer history and the result has always been the same. Of course, records are meant to be broken. At this point in time, the record is simply an issue on mental state and sports psychology. The Germans can only beat themselves if they let the “record” get to them in this matchup.
After Years Of Mediocrity, The Italians Are Finally Hungry
After their World Cup victory in 2006, Italy has been very quiet on the national scene. They bombed out of the 2009 Confederations Cup. They didn’t exit the group stage in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. The most success they have had in recent years was coming in second place in the 2012 Euro Cup and third place in the 2009 Confederations Cup.
The Italians have clearly done a lot of soul searching over the years and they may have found their calling under Antonio Conte. He has instilled confidence into this team and has found a system that suits his roster of players. Current Italian players, former players, and coaches have all praised this team. The defeat of Spain has put Italy’s confidence over the top and they should be feeling that same momentum against Germany.
The Best Defense Is A Good Offense
The formation Conte has chosen has really benefitted the lopsided roster Italy has put on the field. Conte has made up for his team’s lack of offense by piecing together one of the best soccer defenses in Europe. The Italians have only had one goal conceded in this tournament thus far and that one goal only came about when their second team was on the field.
Italy has been most successful when they counter attack. They are totally comfortable letting their opponents keep control of the ball. This is because they know that their defense is formidable and can easily intercept the ball to capitalize and score. This format has helped Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle both revive their careers and find the back of the net this tournament.
Antonio Conte Is The Best Coach In The Tournament
Conte is really putting everything he has into his farewell tour with his tenure as coach of the Italian national soccer team. He has been praised by players and fellow coaches from all over Europe for the tactical schemes he has created. Vicente Del Bosque stated that he “tried everything” to take down the Italians.
The essence Conte brings along with his team is unbeatable. He is serious and commands the respect of his squad when needed. At the same time, he knows when to have fun and celebrate with the team. Rain or shine, their hasn’t been another coach screaming as loud as Conte has been on the sidelines. There are also very few coaches who have gotten a bloody nose celebrating a goal.
Gianluigi Buffon Is The Best Goalkeeper In The Tournament
Buffon may arguably be the greatest goalkeeper of all time, and he is showing no signs of slowing down in his old age. He is currently 38-years-old and is playing at the top of his game. Buffon has the capability to follow in the footsteps of Dino Zoff and play into his forties. He is going to be a key player in stopping the high-powered German attack.
Buffon is not only a key player, he is also the heart and soul of his team. He has never failed at having just the right level of confidence without coming across as being arrogant. Italy’s strong defense should also be credited to Buffon, who made some pretty mind blowing saves in the game against Spain. If any other goalkeeper was in his position, the game may have ended very differently for Italy.
[Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images]