When the competition opened, I predicted that Italy would most likely flunk out a la France 2002.
And it’s not only pessimism that guides this view: having watched almost every Italian game since 1981 I have noticed a glitch: confidence.
Or overconfidence, if you will.
Regardless of the manager or players, the game invariably progresses as follows: Italy plays hard and fast, Italy scores, then Italy becomes so smug that it begins to make silly mistakes.
Whether this results in an undue victory, a mundane draw or an embarrassing loss is no longer dependent on Italian skill; rather it is in the hands of the opponent.
And sadly, last night was a deadening embarrassment.