Italian football suffered the latest in a long recent list of disappointments on Wednesday, June 28, as the Italy Under-21 side crashed out of the group stage of the U21 European Championship with just three points from their three games.
The Azzurrini fell to a 1-0 loss to Norway on the final matchday of the group and the result did little for either side, with both now left to pack their bags and head home with just three points each. Switzerland join France in advancing to the knockout rounds in Romania and Georgia.
A lot of expectations, and for what?
The Azzurrini travelled to Romania and Georgia this summer with a lot of expectations on their shoulders. With Sandro Tonali, Wilfried Gnonto, Raoul Bellanova, Giorgio Scalvini and others in their ranks, many had thought that Italy would be one of the sides to watch this summer.
Far from being a side with the potential to win the tournament, though, Italy instead fell at the very first hurdle.
There was a lot of bitterness after the manner in which they lost to France in their opening game. That night, the Azzurrini were denied a goal, or at least a penalty, late on as a goal-bound attempt appeared to have crossed the line before being blocked by a French defender’s hand, only for nothing to be given and no technology in place to correct the on-field mistake.
Italy did then beat Switzerland, but made hard work of that as well as they led 3-0 at half time and soon had that lead cut to just one goal as the Swiss scored twice in the first seven second-half minutes. They got over the line though and were well placed to advance.
A summer of disappointment for Italian football
Their loss to Norway on the final matchday of the group stage put paid to that though, and Italian football suffered just its latest disappointment this summer.
Earlier in June, Italy’s Under-20 side lost the U20 World Cup final to Uruguay, while Italian sides lost in each of the three European cup finals – Inter in the Champions League to Manchester City, AS Roma in the Europa League against Sevilla, and Fiorentina at the hands of West Ham in the Europa Conference League.