I wished I was wrong. I wanted so much to be wrong. But, it seems, you can’t be wrong all the time.
Italy were dumped out of Euro 08. And they only have themselves to blame. Especially Luca Toni, who managed to go home without scoring a single goal throughout the tournament, despite playing all the minutes of all Italy’s 4 matches. Even the Swiss has a three goal hero in Hakan Yakin. How embarrassing. And you call yourself Italy’s top marksman.
Want to know the saddest part is? Of all the other big teams that already went out, Italy has the least likely next generation of players to make it big in the near future. France has Benzema, Nasri, Ribery to take care of them for the next World Cup and beyond. For the Dutch, Sneijder, Robben, Van der Vaart has still much to offer. And even should the Germans and Spanish bow out, the likes of Podolski, Schweinsteiger and the trio of Villa, Torres and Fabregas would inflict fear in the opposition just the mere mention of their names. As for Italy? De Rossi is probably the only bright spark to come out of this competition but hardly to be considered world-class. This is what you pay for keeping faith with the old guard while ignoring the perilous consequences.
Materazzi and Cannavaro should leave the squad. As with Del Piero, Zambrotta, Panucci and maybe even that Toni fellow. Problem is, who are the able replacements? Chiellini looks somewhat the deal despite starting off as a left back. Barzagli, despite his regular inclusion in the national team, only managed a summer move to Wolfsburg. Aquilani is promising but still has a long way to go before able to command a midfield on his own. As for Perotta, resembles a Defoe, showed tremendous potential at club level, but yet to translate to the international scene.
And the attack, oh god, the attack! Where’s the next great Italian striker? Where’s the next Mazzola? The next Riva? Baggio? Inzaghi? Vieri? Clearly the man from Bayern could not do the business and being a late developer of the game does not help his cause. What hope is there left? The repugnant Cassano? Maybe there’s hope in the form of a certain Marco Borriello, recently signed by Milan, to replace another failed investment in Alberto Gilardino.
As the team look back on Euro 08, maybe they’d realize something more could have been done but what’s most troubling is the immediate future. If England has problems, Italy are looking at a potential train wreck.