Italy’s run to the ultimate of Euro 2020 has, in some ways, highlighted a drastic shift within the nation’s soccer tradition. Roberto Mancini’s workforce is younger, vibrant and adventurous, designed round a slick and technical midfield and imbued with a shiny, attacking type.
If it was that imaginative and prescient of Italy that carried the workforce by the group stage and helped it sweep apart first Austria after which Belgium within the knockout rounds, the workforce’s semifinal victory towards Spain was constructed on a extra acquainted iteration: ruthless and redoubtable, forged not within the porcelain picture of Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti however the unyielding concrete of Bonucci and Chiellini.
It’s that Italy that England should overcome, on Sunday night, whether it is to raise the European Championship trophy: the Italy that not solely finds pleasure in its defending however treats it with real relish. As Bonucci has beforehand mentioned, “As a defender, you at all times like profitable, 1-0.”
It has been that method for years for Italy, in fact. Chiellini made his nationwide workforce debut in 2004; Bonucci, solely two years youthful however a a lot later bloomer, joined him in 2010. Between them, they now have made 219 appearances for his or her nation, the overwhelming majority of them in tandem. They’re so inseparable, at each membership and worldwide degree, that one in all Google’s instructed searches for them is: “Are Chiellini and Bonucci associated?”
They don’t seem to be, however even they admit they could as effectively be. “I feel I do know Bonucci higher than I do know my spouse,” Chiellini has mentioned.