Davide Cananzi watches his team come out second best against Spain. (Bhubaneswarananda Halder)
Italian restaurateur Davide Cananzi’s South City flat turned into little Italy on Sunday night with 15 Indians joining two Italians to egg on the Azzurri. Metro watched the Euro Cup final with them.
Before kick-off: Among Davide’s close friends who have gathered to cheer for Italy is fellow Italian Sandro Puleo. There are loud cheers when the squad is shown.
“I cannot sit still for a second when Italy is playing. I have kept a bottle of mango liqueur that I will finish if we lose, so that I can forget about the match,” says Davide, moving restlessly in a corner of the room. When the national anthem is sung, he joins in with his eyes closed. “Or tension hochhe,” smiles Davide’s wife, DJ Suparna.
Kick-off: Sandro sits relaxed and sips a drink while Davide stands by the projector screen, cheering his team.
Fifth minute: The first free kick comes Spain’s way but they fail to take advantage of it. “Bari jao!” says Davide, making the others laugh at his Bengali. Next comes a Xavi corner that his teammates cannot score off. The cheers get louder. “Xavi is good as long as he doesn’t score,” smiles Sandro. Spain’s ball possession is 56 per cent, which disheartens the Italian supporters.
10-20th minute: Shouts of “stop him”, “easy, easy” and “c’mon, you can do better” fill the room, as wave after wave of Spanish attack keep everyone on the edge of their seats. “They are killing us!” exclaims Davide, unhappy at Italy’s performance.
As Silva scores the first goal in the 14th minute, there is silence in the room. Davide and Sandro are shocked at how easily Italy’s defence is being breached. When Mario Balotelli goes down in Spain’s half, the room erupts, asking for a foul. Cassano lets fly at the goal in the 19th minute but misses. “Boy, you don’t miss a goal like this!” screams Davide, hitting the wall in frustration.
As Balzaretti substitutes Giorgio Chiellini in the 20th minute, everyone groans. “The game is gone, our best defender is gone”, is the general feeling. The first yellow card to Pique in the 24th minute for a two-foot lunge at Cassano lifts the spirits. “Go to Shakira,” grins Davide. Italy mounts attacks on the Spanish citadel, which are cheered loudly. “I’m telling you, we will score now. Put them under pressure man!” says Davide.
30-40th minute: Sandro gets off the sofa and sits on the floor, in disbelief at his team’s performance. “What is Silva doing with the ball!” exclaims Sandro as the Spaniards keep testing Gianluigi Buffon. “That’s offside,” screams the group as Jordi Alba scores the second goal, taking Spain another step closer to victory.
45th minute: Barzagli gets a yellow card for tripping Iniesta. Spain’s fast movement furrows the brows in the South City flat. Buffon deals with Silva’s long-ranger to signal the end of the first-half action!
Half time: “They scored two in 45 minutes, we will score three” the supporters tell each other. It is time to do something to bring luck to the team, so they get the Italian flag painted on their faces. Davide gets a flag painted on his chest as well.
Second half: DJ Suparna gives up hope but Davide, Sandro, Sidhartha and Aditi cling to the fantasy of a miracle. “Everyone is teasing me on BBM and Facebook,” says a dejected Davide. As the half wears on, he finally sits down for the first time. With Spain moving the ball smoothly around Italy’s penalty box, he screams “buttar fuori (throw the ball out)” in anger. DJ Suparna admits that Spain has been “100 per cent better and worthy” compared with Italy. “What we did to Germany in the last match, Spain is doing to us,” remarks Davide. By the 60th minute, the group admits there is no way back.
As Torres replaces Fabregas, with 15 minutes of football left, Sandro says the tardiness of the Italians could result in more goals. Proving him right, Torres scores in 84th minute. Spanish coach Del Bosque makes his last change, bringing in Juan Mata for Iniesta. And that works too, with Mata scoring the last goal, shattering Italy’s dream. “Spain played intelligent football. They didn’t win just by one or two goals, but FOUR! They deserved it,” admits Davide.
Along with a friend, he tries to keep the spirits high, cheering “Italia! Italia! Italia!” Sandro plays safe, and shouts out: “Bharat Mata ki…”