Euro 2020: More arrows in Italy’s quiver, read to know more. When the ball left the base of Marco Verratti’s right boot, lying on the floor and floating on the wall, it looked like it was the wrong gun. But Matteo Pessina, wiggling the edge of the penalty kick, fell in unnoticed and tossed the ball into a far corner, creating a well-adjusted last-minute, refined piece of perfection on the training ground.
Deception had many layers. It started with placing literature for Italian workers in a box. Just two behind the red wall of Wales; two in front of the wall, split and ready for a deceptive run to distract the Welshmen, then one to the left of the Welshman farther away from the box and two turns into a free kick.
The posture was straight enough; either Veratti on the right foot would bend the ball or Federico Bernardeschi on the left foot would bend in the middle. One of the two men standing behind the wall was crossing his neck looking to get half of their heads off the ball.
Just as Verratti stroked the ball – a free-kick is not the right word to describe it, it was a free pass – the eyes of the Welshmen began to follow an imaginary thought in the air – a path Verratti did not take.
Good performance in practice
Some in Wales were already jumping, their eyes fixed on the sky rather than the ball, a few others had rushed out to clear the gap between the wall and the goalkeepers, the couple had begun pulling on the jerseys of the chosen capitals. In melee, they forgot Pessina, apparently a deceptive runner. The Atalanta midfielder just stepped inside, refreshed as he jumped, and tossed the ball in a quiet corner, riding the ball with balletic beauty.
It was not so much about the wisdom of the goal but it was about its perfection. Verratti’s kick was not hitting or overpowering. It wasn’t too high or too low. Pessina set the time to run to perfection, she did not run too fast or run for herself. The ball hit the right spot on his boot and, on the inside, a few inches back or forward, would have asked for the ball. There was an understandable amount of excitement in this excavation site, as such practices are often conceived and polished on the training ground. It is predetermined rather than an exaggeration.
So, with each passing game, Italy shows that there are more strings in their colorful bow than ever before. Their setting skills should not be so surprising, because they have historically not only relied heavily on dead ball but also had expertise in making the dead ball follow the wrong patterns with their feet. Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti and Andrea Pirlo, to name just a few of their supervisors kicking free. It is even more surprising when they have a manager downloading free kicks.
Free kick caterpillar
Roberto Mancini was not a dead footballer in his playing days. He doesn’t have to be, because there were always others around him. Lazio’s most successful team relied heavily on the back of Sinisa Mihajlović, who once scored a free kick hat-trick and set a memorable goal for Mancini’s career, a heel coming back from Mihajlović’s corner kick. Lazio had a good time explaining the free-kick virtuos, with Pavel Nedved and Marcelo Salas hovering over the dead ball. Later came Juan Sebastian Veron. So wherever he trained, Mancini made sure his teams were not only free kick specialists but full of free kick machines that made them unpredictable as much.
In the four years he spent at Manchester City, Mancini collected a wide range of talented talents. David Silva for devouring and immersing in evil, Yaya Toure for directing and power, James Milner for his rod. To overcome boredom, his teams would try advanced training methods, such as the duet of Verratti-Pessina which was more deadly than music to the ears of Wales.