Hello American Football Fans:
If you are counting down until the start of Pittsburgh Steeler training camp at Heinz Field, instead of St. Vincent College for the 2nd year in a row–to minimize Covid-19 exposure risk–you probably were not following the real football competition this sumner. The biggest all European football tournament was pushed from 2020 to this summer due to the pandemic. The tournament final will be played this Sunday 11 July 2021 at 15:00 EDT in Wembley Stadium. Yes a real home game for England!
The irony of this tournament–Both teams advanced thanks to non-run of play goals. . .for you non-soccer people that means that goals were scored either off a free kick, penalty kick or corner kick. As a coach, player and goalkeeper you learn it is much easier to destroy the game defensively instead of create the game offensively. My one coaching buddy believes goal scorers are born and defenders are taught.
While England won on a penalty from the run of play, Italy advancred to the finals by winning kicks from the mark after all extra time against Spain. It was like 1990 all over again. Zenga, Baggio but with a different ending. Add in the England goal on the Penalty even after the initial shot was saved and this really makes me wonder if we are back to the 90’s.
That was the period where everybody was so effective at destroying the game, that a World Cup with less than 3 goals per game was the norm.
And amazingly both England and Italy were very good at keeping teams off the scoreboard. Two standing records from two great goalkeepers 1990 were:
Most clean sheets (matches without conceding)10, Peter Shilton (England, 1982–1990) and Fabien Barthez (France, 1998–2006)
Most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal (finals)517 mins (5 consecutive clean sheets), Walter Zenga (Italy, 1990)
I was always partial to Jorge Campos and Tony Meola. Campos for his ability to make saves despite his height. Meola due to his ability to always be positionally centered in the goal, in large part due to the teaching of Dr. Joe Machnik.
I’ll be cheering for the Azzurri tomorrow as my blood lines would require that level of commitment. I also had the opportunity to wear that Walter Zenga inspired shirt back in high school before all the NFHS rule requirements existed. There was also that 3 year span playing on a team named Azzurri United since my teammates who were from Italy explained that everybody in the country had loyalty to their home team, so we could not be Parma, Juve or Inter without an argument.
If you have any personal input on the Euro, the World Cup, or football in general by living in Europe during a Euro, or attending a World Cup game. . . comments would be greatly appreciated. . . .Hint Hint. . .
My first World Cup game was Ireland vs Norway 0-0 in Giant’s Stadium back in 1994. The number of jerseys and the singing still stick with me to this day. The only thing that beat it was being at a Stanley Cup Final game with my mother at Civic Arena.
Thanks to www.coachale.com for sharing his camp photo from this week, where he teaches the beautiful game!
3 responses to “Euro2020, The Azzurri vs England”
Ok…I can take the hint…
Here are my World and Euro Cup stories…
It was 1982 (yes, a long time ago), and it was my first trip to Europe. I was on a travelling to Italy with my father as a fulfillment of a promise that I made to him when I moved away from after completing college. We were with a tour group crisscrossing Italy over 15 days. Rome, Florence, Venice and many other cities in between. And, at the same time, a little-known soccer tournament was going on…the World Cup. Being Americans, we knew little (or nothing) about soccer…otherwise known by the rest of the world as futbol. All I knew was that one evening the entire town where we were staying ignited in the same level of celebration as Pittsburgh did when the Steelers won the Super Bowl or the Pirates took the World Series. The only difference was that Italy had just won the quarter final game against Brazil…and they still had 2 games left to play! On July 8th, Italy did it again by defeating Poland and they were on to the finals with West Germany (yes, it was still East and West Germany at the time). Once again the entire country celebrated as if they had won it all…but that was still to come. We returned home the day before the final game, but as you probably already know, Italy defeated West Germany to win the Cup.
My other World Cup story also involves Italy but this time the year was 2006. The company that I was working for had just acquired a company with locations in the US, the Netherlands and New Zealand. I was asked to travel to Auckland to welcome the new employees of the company. After leaving Pittsburgh on Saturday, and losing an entire day in flight, I arrived early on Monday morning around 5:30 AM. I arrived at the hotel around 7:00 AM and my room was not yet ready. Despite being exhausted following the longest flight of my life, I was told to go to the bar where there were others gathered to watch to World Cup final. The room was full of engaged soccer fans watching a game taking place on the other side of the world. In the front, closest to the big screen, were two fans of Italy with a large flag of the country draped across themselves. Around 8:00 AM local time the game concluded with Italy defeating France after a penalty shootout. The two fans for Italy began running throughout the hotel waving the flag and screaming at the top of their lungs.
The two World Cup finals that I was first exposed to had Italy (representing half of my heritage) winning…no wonder I am rooting for Italy to win over England in the 2020 Euro Cup.
Finally, my Euro Cup story. I was on an assignment that took me to London for most of the summer in 2008. I stayed at a hotel near Heathrow Airport and every evening the hotel bar came alive with fans cheering for teams playing in the Euro Cup. The hotel was often used by flight crews from other European countries when they needed to stay overnight. It was almost always a sure bet that there would be fans from the two opposing countries staying at the hotel and that made watching the matches even more enjoyable. That year Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the final.
While I still have a great deal more to learn about the sport, I have become a loyal fan of these major tournaments and have grown to appreciate “the beautiful game”.
Thanks for sharing. .. I guess those Italian roots live on through football. If only the Pirates could ever compete for a World Series. We will need to have you over for a game someday, to pull together my collective futbol family.
Do you play for the win, or play for the 1-0 victory?
Do you take the scarcity or abundance approach to the beautiful game?
What approach did England take after minute 2?
Is great goalkeeping the key to winning a tournament or should FIFA and UEFA look at other ways to settle a draw?
Why does the entire match official crew wear Copas? Obviously they do not live in California. . .