Italy head into Euro 2020 on a 27-game unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini, who rebuilt from the wreckage of a World Cup crisis.
When Roberto Mancini was appointed in May 2018, the only way was up for Italy.
For the first time since 1958, the Azzurri were going to miss out on a World Cup. A play-off defeat to Sweden left the four-time winners looking on from afar when the 2018 edition was staged in Russia.
Mancini himself said the country was still in mourning six months later upon his arrival. There had been tears of sadness from the great Gianluigi Buffon in the immediate aftermath following a failure to score at San Siro, as a 0-0 draw on home soil followed on from a 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Stockholm.
Just over three years later, however, and Italy’s outlook ahead of a major tournament could not be more contrasting. The only tears they are hoping to see this time around are the joyous kind.
Having lacked a clear and obvious gameplan under Gian Piero Ventura, the current crop have developed a sharpness and style to match their manager’s dress sense.
At the very beginning of his reign, Mancini had made clear what needed to happen to get Italy off the canvas and back with a fighting chance of competing at the highest level. In hindsight, he has proven to be the ideal man for a crisis