First off, I'd like to thank Mario Balotelli for putting the critics to doubt on his past performances. In my previous articles on the Italians, I've tried to give Balotelli a bit of a confidence boost considering the fact that he can be a great player when he goes for it. And man did he go for it against Germany.
Regardless, the match brought some entertaining moments and really showed why Italy is seriously not to be messed with when it comes to the Euros.
Here are five reasons why this tournament should be theirs:
1) The Scandal:
Before the tournament even started, journalists, critics and football analysts were putting Italy down due to the scandal that could prove worse than Calciopoli. However, the Azurri came out and put their best foot forward to prove their worth.
From the 1-1 draw with Spain to their victories over Croatia and the Republic of Ireland, and everything leading up to their place in the final, they have been criticized and put down because of this scandal. Nevertheless, Italy was ready to go and they have showed they deserve what they've got: a place in the Euro 2012 final.
2) The Old-Timers:
Andrea Pirlo and Gigi Buffon still have it. They truly still have it. It doesn't matter your age when you can bury free kicks and save amazing Khedira volleys like these two have proved they can. Pirlo may not be worth your $100 million like Ronaldo is, but to Italy in this tournament he was priceless.
No other player (except for perhaps Daniele De Rossi) has put forth more to this team's success than Pirlo. From day one and his performance against Spain, free kick against Croatia, tide-turning penalty against England and now his command of the game today, Pirlo has proved he, maybe more than others, deserves what has come.
3) The Young Guys:
Say what you will, but the Italian defense for being as young as they are have done a pretty decent job conceding two goals in the group stage and three goals total all tournament.
A pretty solid performance has seen kids like Bonucci get put in the final. While a couple of players in the defense are above 30, Bonucci has done well at just 25 to hold his own.
On the offensive end, it's time for a little brag on Mario Balotelli. Tied for most goals in the tournament with three, Balotelli has taken all of the criticism given to him and finally thrived with his brace against Germany. Hopefully riding momentum in to the Spain game, Super Mario will look to become one of the youngest strikers ever (21) to lead the Italian side to a championship.
4) The Effort:
True, it may be cliche but the effort the Italians have put in this tournament has been huge to their success. Many estimated the Azurri would fail in the group stage let alone reach the final. The deliverance and drive this team has shown and brought makes them the most deserving.
5) They Play Like Champions:
Last but not least, it's true—they play like champions. The Italians go out every game and pour everything in to it. From Buffon to Balotelli and from back to front, this side does their best and their best shows well.
Even super subs like Di Natale deserve credit because without his goal leading to a draw with Spain, they may not have made it out. Every player has kept a cool head (even Mario) and every player owns what they have.
Should Italy win this European Championship, it can't be said that they don't deserve it.