Italy lack cohesion and fans
World champions Italy had no cohesion, no passion and no luck in their 3-0 defeat by the Dutch, but they also had something else important missing — fans.
The Stade de Suisse in Berne was three-quarters orange with only a small section of the 30,000 crowd speckled with blue shirts. Italian fans have never travelled well but with Milan just hours away by train, it was bizarre that the Dutch outnumbered them so hugely for the Euro 2008 Group C opener.
In the beautiful city centre before the game, the swathes of colourful Dutch fans held a parade and a rock concert but you could count the Italian supporters on two hands.
The lack of support does not excuse the Azzurri’s failings on the pitch, but walking into the stadium the players must have thought they’d been transported to Amsterdam.
The small number of Italian fans also had a bearing on the atmosphere inside the ground when Ruud van Nistelrooy’s first-half opener was allowed to stand. Christian Panucci was adjudged to have played him onside, despite lying down injured behind the byline.
The goal was shown on the stadium big screen but the cries of anger from the tiny Italian contingent barely registered.
One can only imagine the noise the Dutch would have made if the incident had happened in the other box.
Mark Meadows, Berne
PHOTO: Dutch fans walk to the game with just a few Italians scattered among them. June 9 REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko