After winning the Germany 2006 FIFA World Cup, the Italian national team, fondly called Azzurris went into a partial sleep.
Their winning strides slowed down. Somehow, they lost their rhythm. The bite was no longer there. They were no longer fearsome
They have been struggling ever since to make meaningful impact in Europe in particular and the world stage at large. After the 2006 World Cup, three tournaments (South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018) have been held without much impact from Italy
The retirement of big name players without adequate replacements was fingered as one of the major problems of Italy. From Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon to Francesco Totti, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Del Piero, Marco Materazzi, Gianluca Zambrotta and Luca Toni among others created huge vacuum to be filled. It appeared like those coming into the national team were more of average players.
Another reason deduced is the movement of Italian players out of the Serie A to other major leagues in Europe. This ensured that there are lesser quality players in the domestic scene. And when the foreign legion return for national team assignments they find it difficult to blend with the Serie A selected players.
Thirdly, it was discovered that billionaire investors like former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi were not forthcoming with the cash pumped into the domestic league as sponsorship fee and funding of clubs by big companies like Parmalat one of the big funders of Parma and individuals. This was why Chinese and Arab moneybags were linked to AC Milan and other clubs.
This brings us to the fourth reason which is the fall and rise of AC Milan. The club has been struggling in the past few years to bounce back and find it's rhythm It is on record that each period the club excels it rubs off on the national team...they shine.
The era when the Italian national team shone brilliantly were times AC Milan ruled Europe. At some point, the Rosenerris had about six first team players in the national team.
That was the era of the likes of Franco Baresi, Demetrio Albertini, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donaldoni, Alessandro Costacurta, Gennaro Gattuso to mention a few .
Today, it seems Italy has found their rhythm as shown in their scintillating form at the ongoing Euro 2020. Experts say, this could be attributed to the revival of AC Milan whose goalkeeper is the first choice of the Azzurris in the ongoing Euro 2020.
It doesn't matter if they win the tournament or not. They can build on whatever achievements they record in this tournament going forward to Qatar 2022.
Credit must go to Roberto Mancini who has done so well to revive the Azzurris. Coaching has never been the problem of Italy both at club and national team levels. They have had and still have top quality coaches. But before Mancini took over, it has been a dilly-dally show for the coaches contracted to handle the team.
Each time Italy play their peculiar style of compact football which has seen them win four World Cups, the world appreciate in delight. They may be building for Qatar 2022 with this young team doing well in Euro 2020.