Some are highly critical of Italy and keep mentioning the Italians have so far had an easy path- Turkey, Switzerland and Wales proving weak opponents. However, the Austrians thoroughly tested the Azzurri with a physical and straightforward approach in the Round of 16.
The Italians ended up reaching the quarter-final of Euro 2020 largely thanks to the super substitutions by coach Roberto Mancini. Juventus rising star Federico Chiesa and Atalanta’s Matteo Pessina proved the difference with each scoring a goal in the 2-1 win for the Italians.
While the Azzurri did not get tested in the group stage matches, Austria did put up a strong fight and in fact had the better of the 2nd half against the Italians. VAR saved Italy when canceling that Austrian goal for offside, but credit Mancini and his men for showing up during extra-time.
Chiesa’s goal was exquisite and a clear proof not just of his skills but also the fact he has been stepping up in big matches for both Juventus and Italy. Chiesa scored for Juve against Milan in Serie A and delivered the goals versus Porto (in both legs of the Round of 16 in the Champions League) not to mention his winner against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final.
For nostalgia lovers Chiesa scored Italy’s first against Austria at Wembley some 25 years after his father Enrico scored a goal for the Italians- also on English soil at Liverpool’s Anfield- against the Czechs. It is worth noting this the first father and son to end up scoring a goal for their country in a Euro tournament.
Chiesa, the son, had a great season with the Bianconeri helping Juve finish in the top four to make the Champions League and his winner secured the Coppa Italia as mentioned above. Chiesa’s work ethic is also reminiscent of that of his father. The father Enrico worked hard while making his name particularly at Sampdoria, Parma and then Fiorentina.
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As for the Azzurri, next up is a tough contest against one from Kevin de Bruyne’s Belgium and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. CR7 will surely want to end his Euro career on a high. Who is brave enough to bet against Ronaldo scoring more goals? The Portuguese superstar had 29 league goals for Juve during the 2021/21 season. It is also worth noting that CR7 ended up being the best Fantasy Serie A player in EFL’s 2020/21 season.
So all Italian eyes are likely focused on Belgium-Portugal to see who the next opponent will be… CR7 or Kevin de Bruyne?