Italy's brilliant run in the European Championship may have ended with a 4-0 destruction dealt out by Spain, but the Azzurri showed they were ready to jump back into the elite, and their new, more attacking-oriented style was at the center of their success.
Italy entered this tournament with an offense that had grown stagnant in its rigidness. They've had talent, but this was a robotic team that was unable to capture the magic which can be created by aggressiveness and some well-executed freelancing.
Manager Cesare Prandelli helped instill a new dynamic on this squad that allowed them to come up with big goals at the right times.
Sure, this attack lacked consistency, but it was able to muster some nice flourishes of productivity. Never was this more apparent when Mario Balotelli scored two first-half goals in Italy's huge 2-1 win over Germany in the semifinals.
Italy's performance in the 2012 European Championship was...
Balotelli teamed with Antonio Cassano at the striker position in this tournament, and both looked good doing so as they were put in a better position to succeed.
Italy used a diamond midfield. Andrea Pirlo started off the midfield success from the deep position. Time and time again, he launched a forward attack by getting the ball forward and outside. There was no hesitation or fear of losing possession—there was just a hunger and desire to attack.
On the other end of the diamond, Ricardo Montolivo helped finish off the midfield work with his on-point passing.
However, this same method of play led to them conceding four goals against Spain while netting zero for themselves. This is still a work in progress, which is frightening for the rest of the world.
The Azzurri must remember what worked well for them here and build on that. While it is unclear if Prandelli will stay on as coach, they can't let this distraction, or the possible entrance of a new head honcho, change the course of their progression.