Monday, June 23, 2008
Arrivederci Azzurri! (and good riddance)
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I have never been a big fan of the Italian football team. That's putting it mildly: to quote the immortal Edmund Blackadder, I'd rather French-kiss a skunk than see the Azzurri win a major tournament. For far too long Italy have tainted international football with their negative approach- they don't play football, they play anti-football. They bored their way to the final of the 1994 World Cup, where their ultra-defensive tactics ensured the most sleep-inducing World Cup final of all time. They bored their way to the final of Euro 2000, defeating an adventurous and ultra-positive Dutch team on penalties in the semi-finals. The final of Euro 2000 was needless to say a mega-bore: most finals are if they involve Italy. In 2006 they not only bored their way to the World Cup final again, they actually won the tournament. And last night, they went out on the pitch against Spain in the quarter-final of Euro 2008- determined to put us all to sleep for two hours and steal the match on penalties. But for once, the Italian 'master-plan' didn't come off. Spain held their nerve and the Italians went out. But the victory didn't just represent a deserved victory for Spain, who at least made an effort to win the match in normal time; it was, as Alan Hansen correctly said in the BBC studio, a victory for football.
Is it possible to get the Azzurri banned from future tournaments on the grounds that they don't play football, but anti-football? It's surely worth a try.