StoryTop 30 matches that marked the Euro. Until 2021, "Le Monde" has classified the matches that made the legend of the tournament. In 6th position, ten Italians resist the Dutch who miss five penalties and the qualification for a home final.
To love football is also to accept the possibility of a 0-0 draw, this "draw and goalless" match according to this stereotype of a journalist in a hurry to send his report. From his time at Juventus between 1982 and 1987, Michel Platini brought back this coaching phrase: "0-0 is the perfect score because it means no mistakes were made", he said with nothing provocative when he worked as a consultant for Canal +.
But, since the 1990s, this Italy has already turned its back on a catenaccio pure and hard. Arrigo Sacchi and his big AC Milan swept everything away. Individual marking and the libero have lived, zone defense becomes the norm. There remains a transalpine culture and instinct.
In thirty years of cultural hegemony, the catenaccio (inspired by the Swiss lock born in the 1950s) infused in a country where journalist and writer Gianni Brera erected it as a necessity and symbol of local genius. Weaker physically, according to Brera, the Italian would have for him a sense of collective organization going back to the Roman armies and a taste for sacrifice.
Speed and weightlessness
On June 29, 2000, the journalist (who died eight years earlier) was reportedly happy. La Nazionale has no option but to defend. Already, because the opponent incites him. In front of their audience, at the Arena in Amsterdam, the Dutch do not just want to qualify for the final of their Euro (co-organized with Belgium) but also demonstrate their superiority, as always with the heirs of Johan Cruyff.
Nothing is so presumptuous when your players are called Van der Sar, Stam, de Boer, Davids, Zenden, Kluivert, Overmars, Bergkamp and you have won your first four games, including a 6-1 against Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals .
Still weightless, Frank Rijkaard's men walk on their opponents, saved by the post on a strike from Dennis Bergkamp. Everything is going too fast. Especially for Gianluca Zambrotta, soldier overtaken on his right corridor, who receives a second yellow card after thirty-four minutes. At ten, attacking is too daring, Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi then become defenders like the others, but just more advanced.
Defending becomes an instinct for survival. It takes a mixture of organization and luck. As a tactical question, the Italians know how to do it and leave the sides to the Dutch to concentrate their forces in the axis. There, the Nesta-Cannavaro-Iuliano trio is responsible for repelling all the Batavian centers. Positioned in a low block, Italy prefers to suffer than to leave space for the Dutch attackers. A blackboard football.
But sometimes the dikes fail. So you have to rely on a caretaker in a state of grace and a little luck. Francesco Toldo has both for him that day. Shortly after Zambrotta's expulsion, Gianluigi Buffon's replacement diverts a penalty from Frank de Boer's. At playtime, Mark Iuliano hangs Edgar Davids in the box. Indulgent, Mr. Merk, the referee, keeps this second yellow card in his pocket. This time, Patrick Kluivert takes responsibility and Toldo on the wrong foot, but the ball hits the bottom of the post.
"We knew we were going to lose"
Fear changes sides. The Dutch begin to doubt, overwhelmed by their own awkwardness and Italian heroism. Above all, they guess very well where their opponents want to take them. "We really destroyed the Italians in the game. But they were much better than us in the management of the match … And much better prepared for the penalties", will confirm, later, winger Marc Overmars, questioned by So foot.
When you have achieved the rather rare performance of missing two penalties in the same match, you do not approach a penalty shootout with a winning morale. Especially since the Dutch are failing in the exercise two years earlier, against Brazil (in Marseille), at the gates of a world final.
"We knew we were going to lose at that time", said Frank de Boer later. This does not prevent the defender from advancing first despite his first failure. But Toldo reads in Dutch minds and still dives on the bright side. Behind, Jaap Stam sends the ball into orbit.
Italy leads 2-0. Francesco Totti announces to his friends (and in Roman dialect) that he is going to put a "Panenka" on Edwin van der Sar. Not even afraid ! The AS Roma player leaves a leaf in the Dutch net and starts hilariously towards the central circle. Kluivert's successful shot and Paolo Maldini's failure barely held the suspense (3-1) before a livid Paul Bosvelt struck in Toldo's gloves. This semi-final had chosen its side and that of defense.
Find our Top 30 matches that marked the Euro