Global Soccer: Italy’s Veterans Teach Belgians a Seminar at Euro 2016


Emanuele Giaccherini of Italy, top, colliding with Eden Hazard of Belgium at their European Championships match in Lyon, France. Italy won, 2-0.

Cj Gunther/European Pressphoto Agency

LONDON — Did Italy fool everyone, even themselves, about how prepared they were for the European Championships?

Italy Coach Antonio Conte had spoken for months about his team’s first opponent, Belgium, and how it had a “golden generation” of talent that might go all the way and win the tournament. At the same time, others wrote off Conte’s group of players as Italy’s worst in 50 years.

Teams should know by now to be wary of Italians who come to the party wearing pessimism like a cloak of deception. They flatter opponents and lure them in, and then strike them down on the field.

Italy’s 2-0 win over Belgium in Lyon, France, on Monday was the first unexpected result of this year’s Euros. France, Germany and Spain all won their opening games, but the fourth of the pretournament favorites, Belgium, could not.

It was more what Italy did than what Belgium failed to do. Emanuele…

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