Euro 2012: The Italian Déjà Vu

By Paul Troupe

According to Webster’s dictionary, Déjà Vu is described as “a feeling that one has seen or heard something before.” Some people will have a dream and then sometime later (could be weeks, months) remember the dream that they had when they suddenly seem to reappear back in it. It could be a place, a phrase mentioned,  or just something that brings them back to it. Science itself has struggled to find reason or how this occurs.

“So why bring it up on a sports website?” you wonder. Well, because Déjà vu is happening again, right here, right now in the wold of football.

Let me recall the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Before that World Cup, something big in Italy happend. The Italian police uncovered a match fixing scandal that would rock the football world. It was as if no one were immune. Many of the “best” teams in both Serie A and Serie B were accused of fixing matches, which resulted in massive, league-wide penalties, relegations, and players being banned from competing for as much as a lifetime from Italian football, and others were given jail terms.

The Italians, counted out because of suspensions across the board, rolled through Group E, then continued their march towards a title with wins over Australia, Ukraine, and Germany. Then, they beat a France squad that many expected to win in penalties. Italy, having been struck by a terrible match fixing scandal, had somehow overcome the odds and won the 2006 World Cup.

Now, fast forward to June 1, 2011, when the Italian football world gets rocked again. A wide range of people were arrested and accused of fixing matches in the Serie B, Lega Pro Prima Divisione, and Lega Pro Seconda Divisione. Once again, players on the Euro 2012 roster, or those who were in consideration for the roster, were suddenly no longer able to play. Suspensions, relegations, jail terms and bans were once again the norm in Italy.

Yet, Italy has continued on. After clawing it’s way to a draw against tomorrow’s opponent, Spain, Italy also drew with Croatia. Needing a win from Spain over Croatia, Italy got its help when Jesús Navas scored in the 88th minute after Italy had controlled their match against Ireland, a 2-0 win, and netting them a birth in the knockout stage.

Much wasn’t thought then of Italy. Sure, they had barely escaped Group C, but could they really move on?

After a hard fought match against England, Andrea Pirlo made a jaw dropping penalty, and one that broke the spirits of England, to help Italy advance to face the juggernaut Germany. Many thought that Germany had been the the best team in the tournament, and the best chance to beat Spain. Then Mario Balotelli ran wild against a German defense, scored two goals, all while Gianluigi Buffon and the Italian back four played an amazing match. Italy then hung on to win 2-1.

That win set up a rematch with Spain. Four players have twice gone through the match-fixing scandal and then a major international tournament afterwards: Goalkeeper Buffon, midfielders Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi, and defender Andrea Barzagli. Perhaps the prior scandal has helped prepare them for what sure had to be another shocking interruption to the Italian football world.

Whatever they did, they sure did it right. And in less than 24 hours, it could be Déjà vu for Italy.

Paul Troupe is the lead writer for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and San Antonio Spurs, while covering many major sports for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter @gamin4HIM

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