Drink: Zuppa Toscana
Remember when your teacher was out and you got to have a substitute ( that word that lost me the 3rd grade spelling bee)? All rules were off – especially if you had the “cool” sub. Looking back, you realize the “cool” sub most likely meant the “drinking/pot-smoking/hungover” sub. Regardless, the conclusion was the same, class was a virtual vacation and sometimes you even got to use curse words without repercussions.
Subs in the soccer are a horse of a different feather – a harsher, tactical feather. In the Euro Final, the Italians did not have fun subs. Italy saw themselves down 2-0 at the half and needing some offense. (They were already forced to use one of their three subs through injury in the first.) To start the second, coach Cesare Prandelli opted to go with target man Antonio Di Natale in lieu of creative striker Antonio Cassano. I disagreed with this move, as they needed a play maker more than a traditional center forward. Yet, there was an argument to made for Di Natale’s entrance. What there was little-to-no argument for was wasting the last sub on a like-for-like midfielder (Motta for Montolivo) in the 57th minute. Italy were clearly needing help to develop attacking opportunities and had that exact weapon on the bench in attacking-mid/striker Sebastian Giovinco. And, as if the soccer gods were proving me correct, Motta did not last long in the contest, stretchered off (God bless soccer) shortly after entering the game and leaving the Azzurri with ten men for the rest of the match. No word on whether Motta was put down after match.
However, it was unlikely that Italy was ever going to come back from their two-goal deficit at the break. Spain was on their game. (I would have just liked to see a more interesting/entertaining attempt by the Italians.) The Spaniards came out on the attack and took the lead in the 14th minute with their tiki-taka brand of soccer. Short passes dominated the Spanish possession and that, in turn, dominated the Itals. I especially enjoyed the additional middle finger of subbing in a striker for a midfielder (Torres for Fabregas) in the 75th minute, up two goals with a man advantage. After coming on, Torres scored a goal and assisted on another, giving Spain a 4-0 score line, and jobs for all!
Overall, it was a pleasant tournament and I may or may not have won money on my Balotelli 25-1 wager on top scorer. Maybe I will donate my winnings to the Spanish economy.
There is also the question of, with three straight major tournament victories, is this Spanish squad is the best international soccering team everest? Trying to compare different eras of any sport is a tired and ludicrous practice. So I will answer with a bold MAYBE. Ta ta.