Italy: the European Champion with a Latin Flavor

After failing to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, the Italian National Team seeks to defend its continental title and has four Latin American players on its starting roster who hope to continue making a difference .

Mateo Retegui with the Italy shirt

photo: IG-mateoretegui

LatinAmerican Post | Juan Felipe Rengifo

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Leer en español: Italia: la campeona de Europa con sabor latino

July 11, 2021, was an unforgettable date for the 'Tiffosi' of the 'Azzurra', they won the Eurocup title after 53 years defeating hosts England at the mythical Wembley Stadium in a dizzying penalty shootout. Despite the historic achievement achieved, months later, the champions of the 'Old Continent' lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Macedonian National Team, which defeated them agonizingly in the last minute of the match.

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On June 1, 2022, they played the Intercontinental 'Finalíssima' against the Argentine National Team and were defeated 3-0. After that couple of setbacks and the withdrawal of references from the National Team such as captain Giorgio Chiellini, coach Roberto Mancini decided to give his National Team a new lease of life.

For the qualification of Eurocopa 2024, a competition in which they will defend the title, the Italian coach decided to summon four Latin American players to form a new backbone that allows them to recover the places of honor in world football. The first three are old acquaintances, the Brazilian central defender Rafael Toloi, the Brazilian winger Emerson Palmieri and Jorginho, the Brazilian central midfielder, a benchmark in his position.

Argentine Goals for the Italian Attack

The most surprising inclusion was that of the Argentine attacker Mateo Retegui, scorer of the Argentine tournament with Tigre in 2022 with 22 goals. About to turn 24, the center forward who emerged from Boca Juniors responded to his call-up with goals. He scored in the defeat of the opening game of the qualifying against England and repeated against Malta, which allowed the 'Azzurra' squad to get the first three points in the qualifying phase.

'Gauchos' in Italy, a Century-old Story

Although Retegui's call surprised locals and strangers, the link between Argentine players and the Italian shirt is longstanding. The first Argentine called was Julio Libonatti, who played in the extinct Gimnasia de Rosario, Newell's Old Boys and later traveled to Europe to play with Torino. He was part of the Italian national team from 1925 until his retirement in 1931.

World Champions with the Shirt of their Ancestors

Four Argentines lifted the World Cup with the 'Maglia Azzurra' and created a strong bond since 1934, which continues to consolidate over the years. The first Italian-Argentine champions were the forwards Raimundo Orsi and Enrique Guaita, as well as the midfielder Luis Monti.

Mauro Camoranessi: the Last Champion

The Juventus idol from Tandil was the last Argentine to help Italy win its fourth world title in Germany in 2006. He played five of the seven games, including the final against France. He also made up the rosters for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2004 and 2008 Euro Cups, an aspect that has made him one of the most important Italian-Argentine soccer players in the history of soccer in this country.

Italy is currently in second place in group C of Euro 2024 Qualifying with three points to three behind leaders England. The next date will be on September 9 when they will face Macedonia. This confrontation will have an air of revenge, since the Macedonians were the same ones who left them out of the World Cup in Qatar.

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