What a nerve wracking start to the Euro 2012! Never in our living memories have our nerves been so wracked as they were tonight, at least not since the last time! We didn’t think Italy were going to cause us so many problems, especially as somebody told us that half of their squad are in jail for match fixing, and we didn’t recognise many of their names except for Buffon, De Rossi, Pirlo and the mad Balotelli, but what a fright they gave us!
As we said a few days ago, ten of Don Vicente’s line up were set in stone, and the only doubt was whether Torres, Negredo or Llorente would play up front. But when we saw the team it was none of those, and midfielder Fàbregas was the man playing in the false number nine position! Obviously our coach wanted to copy the Barcelona 4-6-0 formation which has brought them so much success, but that was with Messi, and so far nobody has been able to persuade him to become Spanish!
Italy anyway didn’t play their usual “catenaccio” 9-1-0 line up (they told us six of the team were from league champions Juventus, who actually play attacking football), and it was up once again to San Iker to save the day in the first half, ending with a great stop from ex Barcelona player Thiago Motta (wasn’t he Brazilian anyway, what’s he doing playing for Italy?!?). Sergio Ramos let Balotelli through after the break, but the Manchester City player stopped to see who he could pick a fight with, and Ramos came back with a great tackle while he was thinking about it. Danger, danger, and then it happened, Pirlo copied Xavi with a great ball through (doesn’t he have to pay royalties for that?), and substitute Di Natale, who had just replaced Balotelli, ran through to score!
Up to then our tici-taca hadn’t worked, even though we had almost two-thirds of possession, and Buffon only had a couple of saves to make from long shots. By now we were just praying for a draw, come on Del Bosque, put on a centre forward! Llorente (our favourite) had been warming up, but he sat down again and now it’s Jesús Navas who is getting changed – maybe for Arbeloa, let’s go for the 3-7-0! No way! But then we score, and it’s Cesc who gets the goal after David Silva (they call him Merlin at Manchester City) finds him with a pass on to the point of a pin! 1-1, and we are back in it!
Fifteen minutes to go and V de B finally puts on a striker, but it’s Fernando Torres, not Llorente. Oh well, he has been doing better recently, but no, he gets free only to be tackled… by the goalkeeper! And then he’s away again, Buffon’s off his line, but his lob goes over the bar! Mi abuela could have put that one in! Italy haven’t given up yet though, Di Natale volleys wide and then Marchisio cuts through the defence like they were holy ghosts, and again Casillas comes to the rescue! Goran has had to go to the bathroom as he can’t contain the nerves in his trousers, but a couple of shots wide from Xabi Alonso, and then it’s over.
Thanks to God it’s ended, we can settle for a draw after all that, we at least did better than Holland, who lost yesterday to Denmark. We remember too that we lost our first game in the World Cup to Switzerland and still won it. And we are happy for Italy as well, we made some good friends from there over the last two days, and they can be proud that their team played well. Hopefully we can both go through, although we watch Croatia beat Ireland in a bar later on, and they won’t be easy to beat. Now, four days to kill before we play Ireland… Goran, any ideas? Goran?