"Boring, boring Italy." That is usually how people describe the azzurri and Euro 2012 is no different. People have continued to call Italy boring all tournament. Correction: idiots have continued to call Italy boring all tournament.
Italy earned a reputation for defensive soccer over several decades and it was a deserved reputation. They never apologized for it, nor should they have. With four World Cup titles and a Euro title, they have no reason to apologize for however they play. It is clearly incredibly effective and while other countries parade around a style of play, Italy parade around trophies.
But the 2012 Italy team is nothing like the Italy teams of old. Cesare Prandelli changed the team and made them more attacking than they have in the past. He did so with good reason, too, leaning upon a slew of quality attacking players that should be given free reign to get forward and have with fantastic results.
Italy scored in each of their group stage matches, including those against Spain and Croatia so it wasn't a matter of beating down on inferior opponents at all. They created width in both matches, attacked quickly and did their fair share of entertaining. They have showed great tactical flexibility and even played with three at the back. They have been everything that a neutral would want.
The only goalless match of the tournament for the azzurri came against England in the quarterfinals and the Italians could hardly be blamed for that. Andrea Pirlo was marvelous, as was RIccardo Montolivo, and they created chances as they did their best to create goals, only to be held off by an England team dead set on defending.
Then again Germany in the semifinals, the chances and goals came again. Mario Balotelli scored twice, in part due to some tremendous play by Antonio Cassano and Montolivo. They had more chances to pad their lead late on, too, so it wasn't a two chance match by any means.
The Italians' goalscoring and attacking prowess goes back to Euro qualifying too, where they scored 20 goals in 20 matches. That is more than France, Croatia, Russia, England, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Ireland and they did it in a group with Serbia and Slovenia, two countries that qualified for the 2010 World Cup.
Italy earned their reputation as negative and sometimes boring, but they have not been that for two years now and they have not been that for all of Euro 2012. It's time to face reality -- Italy are fun now.
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