Italy-England, Retegui, debut with a bang. But it’s a bittersweet goal

The Italian-Argentine scores at the Azzurri’s christening: “I’m sad about the defeat, but very happy about the debut”

In these cases the common good comes first – and unfortunately the plate cries – but it’s impossible not to let a smile slip away when thinking about Mateo Retegui’s evening: blue debut with goals, with only three workouts in his legs. In short, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. He had a light responsibility, Mateo: returning the lost goal to an attack that had been depressed for months and not disappointing the coach who has just spent himself in a rather demanding comparison with the “first Batistuta”. All this, in his first appearance in the blue shirt, in the first match of the national team without Gianluca Vialli, against an opponent like England. Pressure? Those who know it, categorically exclude it. What is certain is that many of the spotlights of this Italy-England match immediately focused on him. The big surprise, the remedy for goal soreness, the native who shuffles the cards.


An icy gaze, sculpted by concentration and a thread of tension that the eyes could not disguise: this is how Mateo presented himself when he took his first steps on the San Paolo lawn. A mask that didn’t even dissolve when the anthem was played, sketched with his lips while he was embracing those teammates whom he then struggled to find on the pitch in the first half. Understandable for a boy catapulted to Coverciano from another world. Without knowing the environment and the mechanisms of Mancini. At the center of the 4-3-3 between Berardi and Pellegrini, but the assistance in the first 45 was meager. Partly because Mateo didn’t dictate the right assistance, partly because after the first few minutes of comforting ferocity Italy got lost, twisted on itself. Cumbersome, without depth, and depth is one of the main ingredients of Retegui’s diet.


After a handful of seconds the blue number 19 tried to launch himself into the white wall, crashing into it. An appetizer of what would have happened several times later, held in the grip of Stones and above all of Maguire, who headed over him without leaving him breathing space. Mateo has personality, he calls for the ball waving every time he sees an interesting development, but for half the game there are only flashes here and there: a header in the area without success, a percussion from the left wing with a low cross and then the only, true important moment of his first half with a right-footed shot in the area blocked – after a not excellent check – on the most beautiful from Stones.


But the best was actually yet to come. Minute number 11 of the second half. First he tries an improbable right foot from thirty meters that ends in a corner, then he enters the blue story. The sumptuous assistance is by Pellegrini who frees him in front of Pickford, he performs everything as a perfect centre-forward: control – this time impeccable – and ball in the hole in the corner. All right. (Very) clear ideas on movement and execution. For Mancini “el Chapita” can act “both as a single central striker and together with another”. And in fact at a certain point Italy became a 4-2-3-1, with Mateo as the only striker and Verratti behind him. Another Italy, not only in the game system. A once again aggressive Italy, which has regained courage thanks to Mateo’s goal. And that again thanks to Mateo, ten minutes from the ninetieth minute she found herself in numerical superiority after Shaw’s second yellow card, who entered hard on the Italian-Argentine launched towards the English goal. An unsuccessful siege in a bad game that, in any case, Retegui will always remember. “I’m sad about the defeat, but very happy about my debut with this shirt, it’s the one I wanted to wear – said Mateo after the match -. Too bad, I was hoping to debut with a win. The comrades welcomed me with great affection, obviously you have to get to know each other. The goal? I looked for him the whole first half, he arrived in the second half. the goal is important but it is more important to win”.