Italy vs England? It's hardly a level playing field

They're more stylish than us, they have better food and their footballers have nicer hair. Will Dean reckons the Italians' national flair gives them an unfair advantage on and off the pitch

At some point you just have to hold your hands up and say "fine, you win" and scuttle home with your ball. For the English, that point came on Sunday evening when Andrea Pirlo, the metronomic midfield maestro with the look of an adulterous night-school art teacher, looked England's goalkeeper Joe Hart in the eye.

Hart's wild facial gestures were intended to distract the Juventus player, but Pirlo simply strolled forward and chipped into the middle of Hart's goal.

It was the insouciant act of a man out walking his Labrador nudging a stray ball back to a swarm of 11-year-olds playing in the park, not someone with the weight of a nation on his shoulders. It was not, it's fair to say, something you can imagine one of the English players daring to attempt. Let alone scoring. Pirlo's majesty stamped a full-stop on any notion that we can compete with the Italians. Not just on the pitch, but on a complete cultural level

Not that the Tre Leoni have ever really been on a par with the Azurri. Their four World Cups see to that. But England could once take heart in the fact our boys would never resort to dull catenaccio tactics to grind out a one-nil win.

Unfortunately, England's recent penchant for faithful 10- or 11-man impersonations of General Elliot's troops during the siege of Gibraltar put paid to that, too.

It wasn't just the football played on Sunday. The Italians dominated in every possible category. Their manager Cesare Prandelli crouched on the touchline on Sunday, with his hair slicked back, in a (stereotype alert) perfectly tailored suit, looking as cool as liquid nitrogen as his team battered the England goal. Roy Hodgson, bless him, sat hunched on the bench wearing an unfathomably big watch while his hair grappled with the humidity like a dog trying to catch a moth.

Even the sides' respective loose cannons can't compare. Wayne Rooney bellowing "What? Fucking what?!" into a camera, or Mario Balotelli's mercurial "Why always me?" moment? Exactly.

Look away from the pitch, too. We've been veni vidi vici-ed all over again. (Thanks for those roads, though). Britain's high streets are a good example. Fancy a quick shot of espresso? Slice of pizza? Armani suit? And though, England's culinary reputation has improved vastly, the Italians' cuisine has conquered the world with an efficacy that Caesar could only have dreamed of. Until Yorkshire Pudding Hut makes its way to Florence, we may have to concede on that front, too.

London's fashion industry might be a colossus to compare with Milan, but if the fans interviewed in Kiev yesterday are any signifier of national attitudes to style, then you won't need me to tell you the nationality of the handsome chap on Sky News in a perfectly fitted shirt, Ray-Bans and chinos. Then there's the weather, the architecture, the beaches, the skiing, the haircuts, the coffee. All reasons why Brits flock to the damn place every year. Pirlo's impression of Antonin Panenka merely served to draw a handy visual motif for that inferiority. Thanks for that, Andrea.

So, what does that leave us with?

Well, as in 2006, the Italian league is currently plagued by a giant match-fixing scandal, with several players arrested and questioned. Then there are the scary football hooligans, including the Italy fans who racially abused their own Mario Balotelli. Not to mention the continuing scourge of organised crime in the south of the country, an economy so rattled it's led to the appointment of a non-elected Prime Minister; Roman traffic; the media and political career of Silvio Berlusconi and a tower that can't even stand up straight.

You may have won this time, Italy. But give us James Milner, a slightly higher gross domestic product, Test cricket, a cup of tea and a walk in the Peak District any day. And if we could repatriate Andrea Pirlo in time for Brazil 2014, well, that'd be swell, too.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence