Italy coach Roberto Mancini was pleased with his side's display against Spain on Wednesday despite a 2-1 defeat ending their world-record 37-game unbeaten run.

La Roja booked their place in Sunday's Nations League final thanks to two Ferran Torres strikes before half-time.

The Azzurri's cause was not helped by Leonardo Bonucci receiving a second yellow card in between the Manchester City forward's double.

Lorenzo Pellegrini halved the deficit seven minutes from full-time, but Luis Enrique's men held firm to set up a clash with either France or Belgium in Sunday's decider.

While disappointed that his side's superb unbeaten run was over, Mancini was not too hard on his players.  

"Games are like this, sometimes incidents change them. The first half could easily have ended 1-1," Mancini told RAI Sport.

"Clearly, Spain keep the ball well, but it's disappointing to lose like this, down to 10. We made a mistake that we should not be making at this level.

"To be honest, I didn't see the second card, but that's not the point. Leo should not have got himself booked in either situation.

"Playing like this, scoring a goal and not conceding more when down to 10 men was a good performance.

"We needed some fresh legs and that helped when down to 10 men. We could've used some younger players, but I think that despite the defeat, this performance gave us strength."

 

The result was only the second time Italy have conceded more than one goal in a single match under Mancini's guidance, the previous such occasion a 3-1 defeat to France in June 2018.

Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini echoed Mancini's sentiments and believes the defeat will make them stronger.

"It's a pity the defeat came in Milan, but there is pride for this extraordinary run of results," the Juventus defender said.

"It's a necessary stage in the growth process for a team that can still do far better. We knew it was a difficult match, we called for patience and clear minds, and sometimes you have to accept the opposition is a very strong team that causes you problems.

"It's a pity, we wanted to continue this unbeaten run, but the fact is this will help our growth process. We almost got it back on level terms when down to 10 men and 2-0 down, so that shows what we’re capable of."

Giorgio Chiellini says he felt "ashamed" by the racist abuse Napoli players were subjected to by Fiorentina fans during Sunday's Serie A game at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Victor Osimhen were targeted during leaders Napoli's 2-1 victory in Florence.

Koulibaly called for those guilty of the abuse to be banned for life and Italy captain Chiellini demanded that strong action must be taken.

The Juventus centre-back said: "It is unacceptable. We need laws and rules that are applied, this is the most important thing.

"I was ashamed, as an Italian and a Tuscan, also because Italy is not a racist country for me.

"Something more must be done, otherwise from outside we give a bad image of ourselves "

Defender Koulibaly was targeted by spectators as he was interviewed on the pitch after the game.

According to reports by II Napolista, Fiorentina's director general Joe Barone went to Napoli's changing room to apologise personally.

Osimhen slammed the perpetrators in a tweet, writing: "Speak to your kids, your parents, make them understand how disgusting it is to hate an individual because of the colour of their skin. NO TO RACISM."

Koulibaly followed suit on Twitter, where he said he was called a "monkey".

He added: "They called me that. These people have nothing to do with sport. They must be identified and kept out of the stadiums. Forever."

Serie A has had issues with racist behaviour from supporters already this season.

Milan last month filed an official complaint to the Federal Prosecutor's Office following Tiemoue Bakayoko's claims that he and Franck Kessie were abused by a section of Lazio fans.

Massimiliano Allegri claimed Juventus have rediscovered the desire to defend after triumphing 1-0 against local rivals Torino on Saturday.

Juve had to rely on Manuel Locatelli's late strike to secure all three points in the Derby della Mole as the Bianconeri kept their first clean sheet in 21 Serie A games.

Only in 1955 did Juve go longer without a top-flight clean sheet but that run finally ended as Allegri's side secured bragging rights with their fourth consecutive win in all competitions.

The winning streak has put an end to Juve's early-season struggles, at least temporarily, and Allegri pinpointed his team's desire to defend as a primary reason for their resurgence in form.

"After the break for international duty, we discovered the desire to defend when we needed to defend and attack when we needed to attack," Allegri told DAZN post-match.

"It would’ve been disappointing not to win a game after that performance which, after the first half against Milan, I feel was our best of the season."

 

Juve combined experience with youth at the back as Giorgio Chiellini, who equalled Gaetano Scirea as the player with the fourth-most Serie A appearances for the Bianconeri (377), partnered Matthijs de Ligt.

Allegri stated before the season that players such as De Ligt and Dejan Kulusevski were too young to be key figures, however, the head coach believes his younger players can learn from the experience around them.

"It’s a matter of experience," he continued.

"De Ligt is a good player, despite being 22 years old, and let’s not forget he came from a different type of football, so in Italy he needs to improve his reading of the situations and his aggression in marking.

"He's coming off good performances and can only improve. The same goes for Kulusevski, we have talented young players and are working to improve them individually.

"They have the advantage of playing with team-mates like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci."

Giorgio Chiellini is urging Juventus not to focus all of their attention on Romelu Lukaku when they face Chelsea on Wednesday, also highlighting the qualities of Jorginho, who he is backing to win this year's Ballon d'Or.

Juve made a winning start to their Champions League campaign two weeks ago with a 3-0 victory over Malmo, though they will expect a rather trickier challenge as Chelsea visit Turin on matchday two.

The contest will see Chiellini renew hostilities with Lukaku, their pair having enjoyed some bruising tussles during the Belgian's time in Serie A with Inter.

But the Chelsea player Chiellini seems to hold in the highest regard is Jorginho, a player he featured alongside as Italy won Euro 2020 earlier this year.

That success coupled with Chelsea's Champions League win in 2020-21 saw Jorginho win the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award in August, and Chiellini believes he deserves to add the Ballon d'Or to his collection as well.

Asked about the prospect of going up against Lukaku again, Chiellini said: "Lukaku is a great player, we will have to be careful.

"It will be important not to allow the qualities of champions like Lukaku to come out. He's a great player, whom they paid a lot for. He's not there by chance, but maybe it's a bit diminishing to talk about just the meeting of me and Lukaku – it's not just Lukaku.

"Chelsea have many champions: let's think of our great friend Jorginho, who is the 'lighthouse' of this team.

"I truly hope he can win the Ballon d'or because he's a good friend of mine and it's also an award that would feel like it's mine as an Italian and a player who was involved in the [Euro 2020] win."

Jorginho has not always had it easy at Chelsea, with many critics sceptical of his suitability to the club and English football in general, but Chiellini believes the fact he has outlasted both Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge is telling.

"I always thought he was a good player but after two or three sessions in the national team under [Roberto] Mancini, I realised just how good he is," Chiellini continued.

"What a top player he is. He maybe doesn't have great physical qualities, but the real difference is in his head, his mentality, and I was really happy because many said he could only play with Sarri.

"Instead, two other coaches arrived at Chelsea and then in the national team. Wherever he goes he plays as a regular, so I'm happy for him and he definitely deserves an award, so I truly hope he wins the Ballon d'Or."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was questioned on the form of his own midfielders, specifically Adrien Rabiot.

The Frenchman has only impressed in spells since joining from Paris Saint-Germain two years ago and Allegri clearly wants more – though he is adamant Rabiot has the capacity to improve.

"It's similar to [Federico] Bernardeschi," Allegri said. "The difference among players is when they come to Juve – if a big club chooses them, there's obviously a reason, but the difference in their career depends on mentality, their specific objective in helping the team and the capacity to improve, being determined in training sessions, scoring, defending.

"These are the elements that make the difference. How many good, technical players haven't been able to explode in their careers because maybe there was something missing?

"Rabiot is a player, if I was him, I'd be very angry with myself because he's a player who's been here two years, how many goals he scored? Ten [six] in two seasons? That's not acceptable. He needs to improve in order to get much better and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to do that this year."

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini scoffed at the lack of patience afforded to the Bianconeri following their slow start to the Serie A season under new head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

After opening their 2021-22 Serie A campaign without a win in four matches, Juve finally opened their account by edging Spezia 3-2 midweek, moving the Italian giants out of the relegation zone.

Juve have just five points from five games to start the season under Allegri, who returned to Turin to replace Andrea Pirlo after being dethroned by rivals Inter last term.

In a period of change following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit, veteran Juve defender Chiellini bemoaned the impatience.

"We must be able to keep the ship steady in a stormy sea," Italy international Chiellini told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Sunday's match against Sampdoria.

"We'll see if we'll come out of it a little dented or with full sails, but we will arrive at the port.

"As with everything, it takes time to find a balance. When there are big shocks, environmental like an earthquake or not, it takes a little time to settle and to restart.

"Unfortunately, in the world of today, there's no patience."

Juve have gained a point from their two home games this term and last went three home fixtures without a victory at the start of the 2015-16 season, also under Allegri.

Chiellini and Juventus, who have allowed eight goals in five league games this campaign, have conceded a goal in each of their last 19 Serie A contests. Only in 1955 have they had a longer run without a clean sheet in the league (21).

The visit of Sampdoria will be Allegri's 400th game in charge in Serie A – the Juve boss has claimed 243 wins in the competition, at least 59 more than any other coach since his debut in Italy's top flight in 2008-09.

Massimiliano Allegri has reminded Matthijs de Ligt's critics that even Giorgio Chiellini had his struggles as a young player and is convinced the Dutchman has a long future ahead of him at Juventus despite Mino Raiola encouraging speculation.

De Ligt joined Juve on the back of Ajax's unlikely journey to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals, in which he played a vital role as he helped build moves from the back with his passing abilities but also proving a dominant physical presence despite his tender age.

His 0.45 headed shots on target every 90 minutes was the most of all defenders in the competition to play at least 270 minutes that season, while only four of them bettered his 4.2 aerial wins per game.

While De Ligt has not made quite the same use of his physicality at Juve, those strengths could lend themselves to a future in the Premier League, where he is thought to be admired by numerous clubs, with his agent Raiola suggesting on Saturday that the Dutchman may not see out the rest of his contract, which runs to 2024, at Juve.

Raiola's comments came after seeing De Ligt dropped for last week's 2-1 defeat at Napoli and playing in only one of the Netherlands' three recent World Cup qualifiers, with the centre-back yet to truly convince since signing two years ago.

 

The spotlight is very much on Juve's defence ahead of Sunday's clash with Milan, as they have conceded in each of their previous 17 league games, the third-longest run in club history and the worst currently across Europe's top five leagues.

But Allegri appears to retain belief in De Ligt, backing him for a long future at Juve.

"I've already said it before; De Ligt is 22 years old, he's very good, but when you arrive at Juve with an enthusiasm that overwhelms you, it's normal to lose some clarity," the Juventus head coach told reporters when asked about Raiola's comments.

"When he was signed, someone described him as a future Ballon d'Or winner, but it requires tranquillity. He was a 20-year-old boy who arrived at Juventus, a shirt that weighs heavy.

"Chiellini at 20 was like De Ligt, or maybe worse. Then at 28 he became a serious player.

"There is a path for everyone, players and coaches. De Ligt is still a young, good player, who can stay at Juve for many years, regardless of whether he plays one more or one less game."

Roberto Mancini is planning to make changes to Italy's starting line-up for their next match after his "tired" side were held to a goalless draw by Switzerland on Sunday.

The Azzurri created a number of chances and saw a Jorginho penalty saved by Yann Sommer, who made seven saves in total at St. Jakob-Park.

It is the second stalemate in the space of three days for the recently crowned European champions, having also drawn 1-1 with Bulgaria in this week's World Cup qualifiers.

Despite dropping more points, Italy made it 36 games unbeaten to equal Brazil's all-time record, set between 1993 and 1996.

Mancini was once against disappointed with his side's profligacy in front of goal, however, as his side failed to find the net for the first time in 18 matches overall.

"This is a moment when the ball just isn't going in," he told Rai Sport. "Once again, we had too many chances not to win this game.

"It's not the penalty, it's other situations. We need to be more determined, more clinical, more precise. 

"Just like with Bulgaria, it's another match we cannot fail to win with that many scoring opportunities created.

"It was tougher in the second half, but we had the chances in the first half and the second, which means the team did play good football.

"The lads are tired, so there certainly will be some changes for the next game. It's a missed opportunity, exactly like on Thursday. Exactly the same."

 

That next game is against Lithuania in Reggio Emilia on Wednesday, a game Italy will be overwhelming favourites to win no matter what side Mancini fields.

Sunday's draw leaves Italy four points clear of Switzerland, though the Group C second seeds have two games in hand still to play.

With the sides set to face off again on Italian soil in two months' time, Mancini believes that showdown could well be a decider for the only automatic qualification spot.

"I think that will be the case, yes," he said.

Italy's run of draws spans four successive matches inside 90 minutes, though they won two of those matches on penalties on their way to Euro 2020 success.

Ten members of Italy's starting line-up were also part of the XI that helped brush aside Switzerland 3-0 in that tournament, with Emerson Palmieri for Leonardo Spinazzola the only change.

Skipper Giorgio Chiellini believes his side played better in Basel on Sunday than they did in that European Championship match two months ago.

"We played really well this evening in every sense, with technique and aggression, probably better than when we beat Switzerland 3-0 in June," he told RAI Sport.

"What we lacked was the little bit extra to score a goal. This is what we need to find as soon as possible, because this was already a big step forward from Thursday's game, as we were back to the team we saw at Wembley.

"We'll make another step forward for the Nations League in November, then we'll take World Cup qualification after that. 

"Let's take it one step at a time, recover some energy. There's a long way to go and we have to prepare for Wednesday."

Jorginho's penalty miss was his first for Italy from his sixth spot-kick, though that excludes shoot-outs, having also missed in Italy's triumph over England in the Euros final.

"At that moment, it's the team that has to help Jorginho and we did," Chiellini added. "If we didn't have that bit of focus, we could've lost tonight and then made it really complicated for our qualification.

"There are many positives to be taken from this performance and we have to build on those."

Giorgio Chiellini is convinced Massimiliano Allegri is the right man to reclaim the Scudetto for Juventus following the failed Andrea Pirlo experiment.

Celebrated former midfielder Pirlo failed to guide the Bianconeri to a 10th successive Serie A title last season and was sacked in May, before the halfway point of a two-year deal.

Allegri was named as Pirlo's successor on the same day for a second spell in charge, having previously guided Juve to five league titles, four Coppas Italia and two Champions League finals.

Juve amassed 142 wins in their 190 league games under Allegri – only Giovanni Trapattoni has overseen more matches – giving him a win percentage of 74.74, clear of second-placed Antonio Conte (72.81), who managed 83 triumphs from 114 matches.

During his five seasons with Juve, Allegri suffered just 20 league defeats, with his team scoring 380 goals and conceding 125 in return, averaging 2.39 points per game.

Allegri is responsible for three of the seven Juventus seasons during which they have netted 100 goals or more, meanwhile, alongside Pirlo, Conte and Jesse Carver.

Chiellini was a part of that successful period at the club and will likely play a key role in this latest new era for Juventus after penning a two-year contract extension on Monday.

Allegri's immediate aim is to win back the title from Inter, while also seeing off competition from the likes of Milan and Atalanta, and experienced centre-back Chiellini is ready to do his bit.

"I am happy to see him again," Chiellini told Juventus TV. "He gave me and everyone a great deal. 

"I've kept in contact with the lads, and they've told me he's really fired up for the start of the season. I'm convinced he is the right man to take this team back to the top and create a new cycle.

"I am here to give my contribution, above all on the field, but off it too."

 

Chiellini has made 535 appearances for Juventus since joining in 2004 but has played just 21 times in Serie A since the start of 2019-20, partly due to injury.

He showed his quality at Euro 2020 as he helped Italy to their first continental crown in 53 years, starting five of the Azzurri's seven matches in the tournament.

The Livorno product produced six clearances, which was four more than any other Italy player, while also leading the way for interceptions (three) and aerial duels (seven).

After putting an end to potential retirement talk by putting pen to paper with Juve, Chiellini is now eyeing up a place in Italy's World Cup squad for Qatar 2022.

"The World Cup is just over a year away, so we'll see," he said. "I always want to enjoy every moment and to think of the present. 

"If I am fortunate enough to be in good shape and able to participate in the World Cup, then I'll be happy. If I don't, then I'll be happy anyway.

"I've learned over the last few years that the only secret is to live in the moment and without thinking of faraway objectives.

"Now we need to get the engine going again after these few weeks when I needed time to recover, then we'll take it one week at a time, game by game, and see where we end up."

Giorgio Chiellini has, as expected, re-signed with Juventus following the announcement of a new two-year contract.

Chiellini, 36, technically ceased to be a Juve player when his previous deal expired at the end of June after 17 years with the club.

His agent, who referred to potential retirement talk after Euro 2020 success as "madness", suggested Chiellini was open to hearing offers from other clubs, not just Juve.

Though it was always widely believed he would sign on again in Turin, Monday's confirmation put any doubts to bed.

The deal also suggests Chiellini has designs on featuring for Italy at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the veteran seemingly deciding to carry on with the Azzurri after Euro 2020.

Chiellini's performances in that tournament were evidence enough that he is far from finished at the top, his defensive dominance a vital element of an Italy team that played entertaining football but were also solid at the back.

He was colossal in the final as Italy beat England on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Chiellini produced six clearances – four more than any other Italy player – and three interceptions, won more aerial duels (7) than anyone else in blue and completed 95.7 per cent of his 115 passes.

Juve will hope to see a little more of that Chiellini themselves in 2021-22, given he has played just 21 Serie A matches since the start of 2019-20, partly due to injury. 

He featured 17 times in 2020-21 as the club failed to win a 10th successive Scudetto.

Chiellini has made 535 appearances for Juventus since joining them in 2004, while he has also played 112 times for his country.

He has won the Scudetto nine times and claimed five Coppa Italia titles.

Massimiliano Allegri revealed he turned down Real Madrid in favour of a second spell with Juventus.

Allegri was appointed as Bianconeri boss in May after Andrea Pirio was relieved of his duties following a poor season, ending with the club only fourth in Serie A.

The experienced Allegri led the Turin giants to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals during his previous tenure.

Allegri, 53, on Tuesday revealed he could have taken over at Madrid before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as head coach.

"I have to thank Real Madrid and the president for the opportunity he gave me [to coach Real Madrid]. Then I thought about it and chose Juventus," Allegri said during his presentation news conference.

"It was a gesture of love for a club that gave me a lot and who I enjoy coaching."

Inter's 2020-21 Scudetto triumph ended Juventus' nine-year spell of dominance in Italian football and Juve president Andrea Agnelli is hoping Allegri can reassert the Bianconeri's authority.

"It’s useless to present him and repeat what he’s won once again. Perhaps, the streak of Serie A titles he’s won is something impossible to equal," Agnelli added at Allegri's unveiling.

"We analysed what Juventus could have been with the return of Allegri, we agreed that it could have been a risky choice for both of us because of his glorious past and the expectations that he would bring.

"What Juventus can give is the right environment to reach these results. Every victory has been achieved thanks to hard work. As Max has said many times, winning is not for everybody.

"A new season begins, our target is to be competitive for every trophy in March, then we’ll see. Max is the coach of Juventus for the next four years because he has the credibility to write an exciting new chapter."

The Juve president took a dig at former head coach Maurizio Sarri, who had claimed the 2019-20 Scudetto he won in Turin was taken for granted.

"Here at Juventus, we work hard every day to achieve victories," Agnelli continued.

"We can’t take victories for granted, whoever thinks that the trophies we’ve won over the last few years have been less appreciated is wrong because, behind every trophy and every season, there is a great commitment, sacrifice and desire to win."

Agnelli also confirmed Giorgio Chiellini, who captained Italy to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 at Euro 2020, will sign a contract extension with the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo will remain with Juventus despite speculation he will depart before the new season, according to the Serie A club's vice-president Pavel Nedved 

The Portugal international is into the final year of the four-year contract he signed following his transfer from Real Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal.

Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Turin ahead of the new campaign, with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid among those to have reportedly been interested, along with Paris Saint-Germain.

The 36-year-old scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since he joined Juve in July 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period ranks fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

"Ronaldo will return to training on Monday and he will stay with us," Nedved told Sky Sport Italia.

Nedved spoke about Ronaldo's future after Juve beat Cesena 3-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, and was also asked about what was in store for Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini.

Argentina forward Dybala, 27, is also entering the final year of his contract with the Serie A club. 

“[Director Federico] Cherubini has already been in contact with his [Dybala's] agent, who will arrive in Turin next week," former Juventus and Czech Republic midfielder Nedved explained.

"We are in good time to get the situation resolved, it’s not a problem."

On Italy centre-back Chiellini, whose contract expired in June, Nedved added: "When he returns from his vacation, then we can talk."

Roberto Mancini believes he and Gianluca Vialli came 'full circle' at Wembley Stadium, making amends for Sampdoria's European Cup final defeat against Barcelona by succeeding with Italy against England in the Euro 2020 final.

Mancini guided his country to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 with a shoot-out victory over Gareth Southgate's men, courtesy of Gianluigi Donnarumma's penalty-saving heroics.

Tasked with rebuilding after failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, Mancini led his side to a 34-game unbeaten run that culminated in the Euro 2020 success.

After the failure of 2018, the first year in which the Azzurri had failed to reach a World Cup since 1958, Mancini told SPORT1 "Italy was down".

"You [Italy] immediately felt that everyone wanted reparations and were ready to work their a***s for the country", the former Manchester City head coach added.

But Italy's title did not just represent success for this current crop of players, it also provided comfort for Mancini and the Azzurri's team delegation chief Vialli, who came up short with Sampdoria against Barcelona at Wembley in 1992.

"I still remember that game [the 1992 European Cup final] very well. We shouldn't have lost it, it wasn't deserved," said Mancini.

"But now the circle has come full. 30 years later. Madness! I'm also happy because this trophy also belongs to the Sampdoria fans to a certain extent. Unfortunately, they had to accept the bitter defeat at the time. Now the wounds are being healed."

Italy's impressive defence propelled them to their success as they conceded just four goals at Euro 2020, with England (two), Belgium and Finland (three each), the only teams able to boast better defensive records.

Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, whose 12 interceptions topped the defensive rankings alongside Ukraine's Mykola Matvienko, marshalled the backline in front of shoot-out hero Donnarumma and Mancini feels the pair deserve significant credit.

"Giorgio [Chiellini] and Leo [Bonucci], of course, have a very large part in our wonderful success. They deserve it so much because they represent 20 years of Italian football history," he explained.

The praise of Chiellini and Bonucci aside, Mancini batted off questions surrounding immortality and history to conclude: "This title is for all the Italians in our country.

"But it is also a gift to all Italians abroad. There is boundless joy right now."

Giorgio Chiellini's agent says they are waiting on Juventus to discuss a new contract, calling any retirement talk for Italy's Euro 2020 winning captain as "madness".

Chiellini, who turns 37 next month, is a free agent after his Juventus contract expired at the start of this month.

The veteran defender has been focusing on Italy's triumphant Euro 2020 campaign over the past month.

It has been widely expected Chiellini will sign on with the Old Lady for the 2021-22 season although his agent Davide Lippi revealed talks have not begun and they are open to offers from other clubs.

“It takes two to sign a contract,” agent Davide Lippi told Radio Radio.

“Giorgio went to the Euros and focused exclusively on that. There’s no problem with Juventus, we said we’d meet up later in the summer, but we haven’t yet sat down to discuss a renewal.”

On offers from other clubs, Lippi added: “They’d have to make the offer first. As of today, there is nobody. We are waiting for Juventus to tell us when we can sit down and have a chat.”

Lippi also moved to rubbish any talk of Chiellini hanging up the boots, fresh from Italy's continental triumph.

Chiellini has made 535 appearances for Juventus since joining the Serie A club in 2004, as well as 112 caps for the Azzurri.

The central defender, who returned within six months after tearing his ACL in 2019, has won the Scudetto with Juve nine times, as well as five Coppa Italia titles.

“Thinking of Chiellini away from the playing field at this moment is madness," Lippi said.

"What he did after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament is incredible. What fuels him is passion and we saw in the Euros that the passion is still strong.

“He was a symbol of Juventus for many years and we are waiting for a club. Nobody has called, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, as he’s the only free agent in the Italy squad now.”

In the 120th minute of the Euro 2020 final, Giorgio Chiellini decided it was time to race from his defensive station and give Italy a dashing overlap option on the left wing.

He does what he wants. And if this was his last stand for Italy, we witnessed classic Chiellini. What a captain: a nightmare to play against, a dream as a team-mate.

Glory went to his goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, for those saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the shootout, but Italy's success was founded on that Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci axis in the heart of defence.

When Donnarumma pushed away 19-year-old Saka's spot-kick to seal victory, Chiellini roared and grabbed the nearest man in a blue shirt, Manuel Locatelli getting the bear hug.

Moments later he went across to Harry Kane and attempted to console the England skipper, a player whose threat had been utterly blunted by the Italian defence.

The statistics show that Chiellini made just one tackle on the night, but he produced six clearances – four more than any other Italy player – and three interceptions, won more aerial duels (7) than anyone in blue and completed 95.7 per cent of his 115 passes. Just wow.

He turns 37 next month, but was indefatigable here, driving on his team throughout, helping the team that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup become European champions.

The veteran Juventus star retired from international football when Italy failed to qualify for that World Cup, but soon rowed back on that decision. This might be the perfect way to bow out, having guided the Azzurri through grim times and on to triumph.

 

It is 34 games unbeaten now for them, Roberto Mancini's team worthy kings of the continent. Wembley was perhaps less than a third full by the time Chiellini got to lift the trophy, having emptied of most England supporters.

Football's come home to Rome. Chiellini had tears in his eyes as he lifted the trophy, and doubtless it was the same for millions of Italians at home, the first European country to truly feel the horrors of the COVID-19 crisis last spring being given enormous cause for national celebration.

Italy have never lost against England at a major tournament, but when Luke Shaw fired Gareth Southgate's men inside two minutes the locals sensed this time it might be different.

Yet Bonucci became the oldest player to score in a European Championship final as Italian pressure told midway through the second half, tucking in the rebound after Jordan Pickford pushed Marco Verratti's header against the left post.

It had felt that England, with their early lead, were trying to Catenaccio the life out of the Azzurri, beat them at their own game.

Italy had six shots in the first half to England's one. Jorginho, who completed just five passes in the Spain half during Tuesday's semi-final, had 27 such balls that found blue shirts in the first half here.

There was freedom for Italy to play, and even when they lost livewire Federico Chiesa to an ankle injury they continued to dominate and swarm, leading the shot court 14-4 at the 90-minute mark.

In stoppage time at the end of that 90, Chiellini cynically grabbed the shirt of Saka as the teenager looked to burst down the right. Because of course he did. He had the wit to swallow a yellow card for the greater good. A professional's 'professional foul'.

Into the extra half hour and Chiellini made an excellent block to turn Raheem Sterling's cross out for a corner.

Soon afterwards, just as Sterling looked set to shoot or perhaps deliver a killer pass across goal, out stretched a foot from Chiellini to solve Italy's latest problem.

Will Roberto Mancini try to keep him on for the World Cup campaign? A conversation for another day, probably.

 

This was a night of joy for Italy, and what a moment for Mancini, too.

Italy's head coach knows all about Wembley heartbreak, having been on the Sampdoria team that lost 1-0 to Barcelona under the old stadium's twin towers in the 1992 European Cup final, when Gianluca Vialli's misses proved so costly.

Mancini's Manchester City team were dealt a stunning defeat at the rebuilt stadium by Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup final, with the Italian sacked days later.

He has known magical moments too, delivering City's first trophy for 35 years in the 2011 FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Stoke City. The semi-final win over Manchester United that year, also at Wembley, was perhaps far more important in terms of the shift of power in English football.

And then Wembley has served Italy well in this tournament, the tense win over Austria, the penalty shoot-out victory over Spain in the semi-finals, and now this latest spot-kicks success.

Chiellini, the oldest player to start as captain in a European Championship final at 36 years and 331 days, as intimidating as a centre-back can be, has been a rollicking thorn in the side of the opposition.

And after all those Scudetto triumphs in the nine-in-a-row Juventus side, Chiellini is a champion with Italy. An outlaw legitimised by his nation's finest footballing hour in many a year.

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini insists his side were deserved winners in Sunday's Euro 2020 final against England after dominating from the moment they fell behind.

The Azzurri recovered from Luke Shaw's strike after one minute and 57 seconds – the earliest ever European Championship final goal – to win the competition for a second time.

Leonardo Bonucci levelled up for Italy with 67 minutes played, becoming the oldest scorer in a Euros final, and it was Roberto Mancini's side who prevailed 3-2 on penalties for their sixth major tournament title.

England had just 34.4 per cent of the ball, the Three Lions' lowest figure at Wembley since drawing 2-2 with Spain in November 2016.

Italy also outshot their opponents 19 to six across the 120 minutes and Chiellini felt his side were good value for their famous victory in London.

"We won, I think deservedly," he told RAI Sport. "We felt something magical in the air. We'd been saying it since the start of May and we deserve it, all of Italy deserves it.

"It was an incredible sensation. Thank you to everyone who was part of this group over three years and we dedicate it to all those players who are watching from home too.

"They key was always to play football and enjoy ourselves. We wanted to control the game, to hold possession.

"Despite getting that punch in the face within two minutes, we dominated the rest of the match and wanted it at all costs."

 

Gianluigi Donnarumma was Italy's shoot-out hero with two saves, including the decisive stop from Bukayo Saka's attempt to end the Azzurri's 53-year wait to lift the coveted trophy again.

That is the longest gap between championships in the tournament history, surpassing Spain's 44-year wait from 1964 to 2008.

Donnarumma was mobbed by his team-mates at full-time and was hailed by skipper Chiellini, who compared the 22-year-old to the great Gianluigi Buffon.

"We had Gigione! We've gone from Gigi to Gigio," Chiellini said. "It was right to win this way. We are all so happy and can't wait to celebrate with all the Italians tomorrow."

Italy are the first side in European Championship history to win two shoot-outs in a single edition of the competition, having also gone the distance against Spain in the semi-finals.

It marks an incredible turnaround for the Azzurri, who failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 but are now a national record 34 matches without defeat.

Mancini has overseen that long-running streak and was in tears when interviewed at the end of the game at Wembley.

"The lads are marvellous. I don't know what more to say. It's important for all the people and all the fans," Mancini told RAI Sport.

"England did well. We conceded the goal straight away and struggled, but then dominated from there on in.

"We are happy that we played well when winning the game. I hope the supporters are celebrating right now. We're happy now. That's all that matters."

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