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Fantastic Four

Since things are going so well in the fantasy world of the Azzurri, and not so well in the world of Milan (PSG’s president was in Milan last night, claiming he is NOT there for Thiago Silva,) I thought it would be nice to follow our Fantastic Four through to Sunday’s Euro Final. (Sorry, Montolivo, someone had to be the girl, consider this your initiation photoshop.)



Italy were nothing but inspiring as they defeated Germany yet again yesterday. I cannot say enough about the performances of nearly all of the Italian players. While a few have been singled out for their heroics in certain games, it has truly been a team effort to get them here. But after having written for the Italy World Cup Blog for over a year and having bent over backwards to be impartial, I am going to praise the hell out of our Milan boys, just because I can. And so I present to you, Milan’s Fantastic Four:

Mr. Fantastic: Antonio Cassano, a.k.a. Fantantonio Balotelli said it best when he said, “It was a fantastic assist, the kind only Antonio Cassano can provide… No striker I've been teammates with compares to playing alongside Antonio. He just brings me to another level.” Cassano, long considered selfish and a “bad boy” of calcio, quietly rules the assists column whenever he plays, while still scoring some beauties along the way. Has he changed? I’m sure he has. In the last year, he’s gotten married, had a son, had a stroke, had heart surgery, and miraculously come back to the pitch to play in Europe’s most elite competition. If that doesn’t change a man, I don’t know what will. But if anything, it’s all simply made him that much more fantastic.

Cassano & son celebrating the semifinal win
(so much PFW!)

Invisible Woman: Riccardo Montolivo He’s half German. And he lobbed that assist to Balotelli yesterday with the boot that has the German flag on it. Maybe sometimes he is invisible, but he is no woman. His past two matches have been brilliant, save the penalty miss against England. But his teammates had his back even then, and he lived to fight another match. For a player who varies from brilliant to invisible, he picked a great time to bring on the brilliant performances. The big question for me is: why was he subbed off for Motta last night? And yet the comparison proved to those of us who are doubtful of his abilities that maybe, just maybe we have something special here… if he doesn’t do that vanishing act of his.


Human Torch: Ignazio Abate, a.k.a. The Blonde Fury The name comes from his amazing speed and his ability to torch the opposition. But in addition to being his lightning fast self and defending like his life depended on it, our little fireball has done for Italy this tournament what he struggled with at Milan thus far: Put in some good crosses. I do not begrudge him saving it for Italy, but now that his secret is out, he will have to show it at Milan, too. He was, of course, injured and missed the big showdown with Germany. But with the enthusiasm he showed in his celebrations, I am hoping he will be available to play on Sunday. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see him cook up some Spanish barbecue on the right flank.


This is how he celebrates. Don't mess with him.

The Thing: Antonio Nocerino He has played 41 incredible minutes at this Euro tournament, and the only question is will Prandelli use him on Sunday? Like his namesake, he is strong and seemingly indestructible, but he is also fast and seems almost addicted to scoring goals. Which could come in handy to the Azzurri on Sunday. He is humble, unassuming, and hardworking, and when unleashed thus far, has proven himself more than worthy of the blue jersey. Plus, if he doesn’t at least get subbed from the bench on Sunday, I might just turn into The Thing and pay a little visit to Prandelli. Bring on the Noce.


The entire Azzurri squad are superheroes, some quietly saving the day, others’ heroics dominating the spotlight. And while it is true that Italy would not be playing in the final on Sunday without any of them, I am so very proud of Milan’s Fantastic Four. I hope Spain have learned from their first game of the tournament and have some answers for Italy’s superheroes, because I want to see some great football. But mostly, I hope they water the pitch.


This post inspired by the music of Il Canto degli Italiani
“Fratelli d’Italia” or “Inno di Mameli”