Prior to Italy’s quarter final clash against Belgium, the main topic of discussion was whether Roberto Mancini should rely on the fit-again Giorgio Chiellini or avoid risking the veteran for such a delicate encounter
The captain had put up a strong performance in the opening fixture against Turkey, but suffered from an injury against Switzerland, and was replaced by Francesco Acerbi afterwards.
On Friday night, the decision was made, and the Juventus legend took the field, leading the Azzurri’s national anthem chorus with great enthusiasm.
That was surely a sign of things to come, as the 36-year-old put on another colossal display, successfully limiting the danger imposed by Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian giant had previously proclaimed himself as a world class talent, and it’s hard to argue against his claim. But after being repeatedly denied by an aging veteran, perhaps he began to doubt himself in the process.
Instead of waiting for the Inter striker to attack him with his ferocious runs, Chiellini would instead chase him all over the pitch to prevent him from comfortably receiving the ball.
Partially thanks to his defensive masterclass, Italy advanced to the next round of Euro 2020, where they will meet their Spanish foes.
However, the Azzurri captain had already saw his contract with Juventus expiring earlier this week – even though signing an extension has been described as a mere formality.
Following Max Allegri’s return to the club, the defender’s contract renewal is expected to be on the top of his wish-list.
Whilst some were asking the management to start a new era without the Livorno native – who’s been dealing with injury setbacks repeatedly – his performances for club and country in the past twelve months have proven his capabilities.
Admittedly, Chiellini will end up missing numerous matches due to physical problems, but whenever fit, he could make all the difference for the Old Lady.
So while Juventus must continue building for the future, they should enjoy the presence of the immortal center back, because they simply don’t make them like this anymore.