When the excited, exhausted Italians took to the cameras after their victory in the semi-final Euro 2020 for the semi-final penalty in Spain, the same word continued.
“We all suffered together, now we are one centimeter away from becoming legends,” said Leonardo Boccini.
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Match player Federico Chiesa said “we suffered as a team”, while manager Roberto Mancini pointed out: “There are games where you have to suffer. “Not everyone can be as smooth as our progress so far.”
The issue continued in the newspapers the next day. The headline of La Repubblica read: “Italy, how much suffering – now the dream is near”.
Gazzetta dello Sport columnist and former Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri wrote: “What’s wrong, again, but this is international football at the highest level. A wonderful spectacle, sports are also sweat, fatigue, struggle and tears “.
None of them were intended in a negative sense.
By contrast, Italy’s ability to overcome the euro’s biggest challenge to date has made many people on the peninsula more confident than ever of their ability to go on and win it on Sunday.
Italy has won all six of its tournament games in different ways. They dominated their three team games against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, scoring seven goals and none.
Against Austria in the last 16, they tried to win an overtime against a natural side that was expected to win, without their usual strength and dynamism, but showed impressive resilience.
An inflatable first half of attacking football struck the Belgians in the quarter-finals, with Italy scoring twice before halftime, proving they were enough to win the game after a nervous second half.
But against Spain, it was a completely different task.
Italy’s midfield has impressed so far in the tournament and the battle in the center of the park was eagerly awaited, but it turned out that there was no competition as Luis Enrique’s team, led by the charming 18-year-old Pedri, dominated 65% of the possession.
The Spaniards also rained in 16 shots on seven of Italy in 120 minutes, but the Italians inspired the pressure and then showed calm when they needed more on the penalty spot.
The Azzurri have hit the road in this tournament, losing Alessandro Florenzi due to injury in the middle of their opening game, captain Giorgio Chiellini in their second, and in full form Leonardo Spinazzola against Belgium.
However, the way the team has progressed to overcome a number of obstacles that come in different shapes and sizes has impressed.
There was no single player, which is also evidenced by the fact that Mancini’s team has five different players in two goals, making it the second team in the history of the euro to have so many after France in 2000.
They have had some dazzling fun at times, but their ability to suffer and their experience with it could prove to be the most important feature of this team in Sunday’s final.