Mancini backs Italy and Spain as World Cup favourites

Date: 16th July 2021 at 11:38am
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Italy’s path to being crowned European champions this summer mightn’t have been the most interesting as the Coral special offers available for an outsider, with Roberto Mancini’s side putting in a perfect performance from start to finish, culminating in their win over England at Wembley to lift the trophy.

But it was their semi-final win over Spain that saw them put into the most trouble, with Luis Enrique’s side having a number of chances to win the game and send the Azzurri packing. They didn’t, though, and Italy went on to win on penalties.

Rai, Italy’s national broadcaster, have aired a documentary ‘Sogno Azzurro’ that covers Italy’s Euro 2020 success, and one of the more interesting points came from the hours leading up to that Spain semi-final, particularly for those interested in Spanish football.

“You can’t always win by controlling a game,” Mancini told his players leading up to the semi-final. “It’s what we’d like, but there are the opponents as well.

“If you have to, wait. Let them play. Stay calm.

“Spain have a great squad. You’ll see at the World Cup that it’ll be between us, them and maybe another team. They’ve very good players – young, but very good.

“It won’t be easy, we’ll have to suffer until the end but, as always, we’ll try to do it together.”

There will be plenty of other countries who will be vying to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Gareth Southgate’s young England squad will have another eighteen months of experience behind them and will be looking to go one step further after missing out in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals to Croatia, before the Azzuri beat them in the delayed Euro 2020 final.

Lionel Messi’s Argentina will be full of confidence having won this year’s Copa America trophy and the Barcelona star will be keen to give it his all in what could be the last World Cup appearance of his career.

You can never write off Brazil either, as they will boast arguably the most naturally talented squad of anyone and Neymar can win any match on his day.

Post-match comments

Some other points of note came from Matteo Pessina and Ciro Immobile after the win over Spain.

“I dreamt about [Sergio] Busquets,” said the Atalanta midfielder, “I thought he was in my bed”.

Lazio forward Immobile then spoke about all of the sacrificial work he had to do, saying “I spent 60 minutes running after the ball”.


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