MARTA APARCICIO BARCONES/AIPS Young Reporter in TEL AVIV: Nothing is more unpredictable than the world of football. Consider Italy andS pain: last year they contested the Euro 2012 final in Kiev. Tomorrow they meet in the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem in the UEFA European Under-21 final.
Last year La Roja thrashed the Azzurri 4-0 with goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata, allowing them to hold two European Championships and one World Cup for the first time in history.
Now the new stars players of the Spanish Under-21 team want to pick up the baton. Two parallel stories could both have a happy ending.
On the opposite side are an Italian team loaded with talent and whose players are being sought by several European teams. Among them are Marco Verratti, Giulio Donati and Manolo Gabbiadini.
The road to the final has been long and now Spainare within touching distance of the title they won in Denmark in 2011.
Coach Julen Lopetegui does not want distractions. After Saturday’s semi-final defeat of Norway, which they ended exhausted by the heat and humidity, La Rojita enjoyed Sunday as a day of rest.
After leisure walks on the beach with coach Lopetegui it’s back to work today.
Italy will have the help of an experienced Spanish football expert in Arrigo Sacchi. He is in charge of coordinating the youth teams of the Azzurrini and monitoring everything that happens around the Under-21s.
Sacchi watches over all their training sessions and help them prepare for Spain, supplying his inside knowledge of Spanish football.
He worked as a director of football at Real Madrid and manager at Atletico de Madrid. He also guided Italy’s seniors to the 1994 World Cup Final. They beat Spain on the way to the final. Now a new generation will looking to him to help them achieve a repeat . . . and avenge last summer’s Euro 2012 defeat.