I have probably asked myself why, but I think this is why I love football. It mirrors life.
An Italian team, just before the start of the tournament was hit by another fixing scandal. There was talk of them pulling out even. Yet, come Sunday they will be lining up against defending champions Spain.
After what was meant to be the classico yesterday that did not bill up to that expectation, today’s match exploded into action right from the word go. A very open match, end-to-end in the second half, the thrills killed of the memories of the previous two goalless draws.
Mario Balotelli, with those two goals, will finally get to the place he dreamt of. Love and adulation of the Italian public. The two goals were both classic strikes, one the positioning and the sheer power and will to get to the ball, and the second a thundering strike when memories of the previous ill tried one on ones came to mind. The De Rossi – Mario celebration will certainly put an end to the any smoke lingering around. The defending was Italian resolute, and Buffon, a principal subject of a book if it were to be, ‘How footballers should behave’, showed us irrespective of age, he can still put in an almost perfect showing.
Every team that has exited have come up with their own versions of ‘we can be proud’, a PR exercise I have observed to somehow justify miserable performances. But Germany can really be proud. Luck is needed in both football and in life. And if somehow the ball had found its way into the net much earlier than it did, we could have seen a whole different scoreline, maybe. Even though the Italian jinx is not over, the Germans are building themselves to be the next dominant power in football. We will surely be hearing more of them.
But this match, if anything, shows us the importance of the final ball. Somehow they were throughout the match were able to make that final ball count; open a more stronger team up. The final, coming Sunday, might be a whole different Italian team than the ones Spaniards faced. Maybe Prandelli will want to do another Pilgrimage, while I take a piece of paper and write to FIFA, why irrespective of what Messi or Ronaldo does next season, Pirlo deserves the Ballon D’Or, because if Italian football indeed undergoes a Renaissance, then he is the artist responsible for it.