How the Italian Super Cup has shaped the country’s national psyche
An atmosphere has developed around the national team and a new generation is playing a pivotal role in the development of the game.
The current era of success has also seen an uptick in interest in the game and the number of young players in the first team is increasing.
In the midst of all this, there are some that question whether Italy is really the country to which it claims to aspire.
In this, they’re not wrong.
But the answer may lie in a more nuanced understanding of how the nation’s obsession with football has been constructed over the years, and the impact it has had on the way it thinks about itself and what it’s trying to achieve.
It is not the first time that Italy has had to reckon with the notion that its football culture is not truly the Italian way.
When a young country like Italy is struggling to produce a cohesive, consistent and cohesive national team, it’s not easy to find the right balance.
A new generation has had the opportunity to play their part in the process and their success has been celebrated in a number of different ways, some more than others.
One of the most obvious examples is that of Simone Zaza, who was given the nickname “the Italian Messi” by the media after scoring for the country at the World Cup.
It wasn’t a coincidence that his goal in the final of the Champions League was followed by a tweet from former president Silvio Berlusconi, who proclaimed the striker to be the future of Italian football.
In a recent column for El Pais, Gianluca Di Marzio, one of the countrys most prominent football writers, described Zaza as “one of the brightest young talents in the world”.
The criticism was justified, and so too was the reaction of many in the Italian press, who were quick to dismiss the notion.
“If he had scored that [goal], it would have been celebrated as a miracle,” said journalist Alessandro Gioni, who had been working with the striker for years.
“He was the best striker in Italy.
But in fact it was only after the World Cups that he really became a star, and that was only thanks to Berlusconianism.
When I started to work with him, he was a great talent, but then he lost it, and I had to teach him a new way of playing.
That’s how he changed.”
Giuseppe Caputi, who is the chairman of the Italian Football Federation, is also quick to point out that Zaza was simply playing for the right to play in the Champions Leagues.
In the same way that Di Marzo called Zaza “the best player in the World”, Caputi told the same story about Zaza.
“He’s the only one in the team who knows how to play the game,” he said.
“In Italy, football is not about playing like a boy and it’s a very complicated game, but when he’s on the pitch he’s the most effective striker we’ve seen.”
The same is true for former Milan defender Gianluigi Donnarumma, who in 2013 was the first Italian to play for the team at the Euros.
He joined the squad at the start of the 2014-15 season and was the only player on the bench when Italy beat Russia 4-1 on aggregate.
The difference in attitude to Zaza and Donnarma is clear.
Donnarampo has never had much luck at the highest level, but he has consistently performed in the top tiers of Italian club football.
He’s never scored more than six goals in his career, and his most recent goal came at the 2013 World Cup in South Africa.
But it was Donnaruma’s form at the 2014 World Cup that gave the fans in Rome their first taste of the young star who they had been looking for all along.
It was the goal he scored in the closing minutes of a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands that clinched a 3-1 victory in extra time, before he was sent off in the second half for a second yellow card.
The next season he made his debut in a 1-0 win over Italy, and won the Golden Boot with a hat-trick in the match.
The following year, he scored three goals in a 5-0 rout of Sweden in the group stage, and then scored the first of his four goals in the quarter-finals against Portugal, who beat the hosts 3-2.
He finished the season with 14 goals in 27 appearances, and he scored his third in a 4 – 0 win over Brazil in the last 16.
There’s a certain mystique about the young striker, who has never won anything, yet is regarded as one of Italy’s best talents.
“I can say that he is one of those players who are good enough to win a trophy and then to score a goal,” said Donnarumpo.
“And I think he’s probably one of my best players of the season.”
For some, however, Zaza