Italy have surpassed every ones expectations in making the semi finals of the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. For the promising performances however there has been one missing ingredient in the success story, a goal scorer to compete for the Golden Boot.
Whilst Andrea Pirlo has been conducting games with the panache of an Italian opera star there has been no fat lady to sing that games are over...
What Italy need is a fat lady like the one they had at Italia 90 - Salvatore Schillaci.
At the 1990 World Cup on home soil, Schillaci scored 6 times and took the tournament by storm to claim in the golden boot in a 3rd place finish for Italy.
Schillaci was added to the Italy squad after scoring 15 goals in his first season with Juventus and possessed a creative and aggressive style that had yet to find him success beyond club level. Making his debut as a substitute in the opening game against Austria, he scored and proceeded to score in every game through to the 3rd/4th place play off.
The impact Toto had led to the World Cup being remembered as 'The Magical Nights of Schillaci'
He would only score 1 goal after the World Cup and retired having played 16 times for the national team, scoring 7 goals in total.
In total during the 1990 tournament the Italians scored 10 goals in 7 games.
Compare the current teams' progress in Poland/Ukraine and they have scored a measly 4 goals in 4 games despite having on average 12.5 attempts on target per game with 9.25 off target. Against England in the Quarter Final they had 35 attempts with 20 on target yet it fell down to penalty kicks to progress against a team they dominated.
The defence and midfield have been excellent during the tournament so far and have given a solid foundation to build on as I suggested in my opening piece pre-tournament. The forward line however has been found wanting, this is not a surprise however when you look at the players to choose from.
Antonio Cassano is less than 12 months past a mini stroke and the fact he has been able to perform at all during the Euros has been nothing short of remarkable. The aging limbs of Antonio Di Natale have served Italy as best as possible, however he has been unable to play an active role in all games as required.
Mario Balotelli is an enigma and alongside Andrea Pirlo has been the main discussion point of the Italian campaign. We have seen the beauty of his game with his gorgeous volley against the Republic of Ireland and also the ridiculous, after dispossessing Ramos of Spain and having a run on goal he seemed to slow down losing the chance to shoot. Even after his goal against the Irish he still had to be stopped by his team mate Bonucci, from saying something stupid to the manager Prandelli. We saw possibly Balotellis best performance against the English and yet at times he was more concerned with winning the game himself. The petulance was also not far away with several fist beatings into the ground during the course of the game.
If Balotelli had put the fist pumping efforts into making a positive impact into the games then there is no reason he could have been Italy's 'Schillaci' in this tournament and competed for the Golden Boot.
As the national team helps to divert attention away from the investigations into match fixing back home, it's a shame that they have been unable to discover another striker to capture the heart of the nation.
It is very unlikely that Germany will allow as many attempts on goal as England and it could be that one chance could decide the game.
Is this Balotellis moment to resurrect the international ghost of Schillaci?
The Italian nation waits with baited breath, wondering if they will experience a new set of 'magical nights'
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