As Italy lead England in the European Under 21 Championship, they require a winner in the opposite group game – between Portugal and Sweden – in order to qualify.
‘Biscotto!’, the cry goes up.
Bitter experience has created a belief that both sides would work together for the common good.
It surely has in the past, and surely will again in future.
Yet the common good implies something else. It implies a common enemy. For Portugal and Sweden to work together to put Italy out, it would require them both to think that Italy are a genuine threat further down the line.
Now, having played the pair already, it is perfectly reasonable for neither to think that. In both games to date, Italy have been poor. Why, in that situation, would either fear another meeting with Italy?
The Biscotto claim has two layers to it.
1. Two teams work together to eliminate another team.
2. Those teams are both inferior to that team, so would benefit by eliminating them outside of a direct competition.
Personally, I don’t see it. I think Sweden and Portugal are more than capable of beating Italy in what would be, eventually, the final.
Sure, there’s benefit in guaranteeing both their progress, but what’s the point of progressing only to face a team you think will beat you later on?
To my ears, the cries of Biscotto ring hollow. They are the voices of desperation, clinging to something that is far from the truth to disguise their overall disappointment.
Despite leading against Sweden, the Azzurrini were disjointed. Against Portugal, things were no better. Look to those games for the reason for elimination, rather than suggesting Italy are feared by teams with no reason to fear them. Is one good performance enough to guarantee progression?
The Biscotto is crumbled, and so should the scales from the eyes.