Even though I love this game, I’m not a big soccer fan, except for international tournaments such as the Champions League, the European Championships, and the World Cup. That’s why I’m watching—and enjoying—Euro 2012, and not just because Italy are doing very well, though that helps, of course—by the way, hey German friends, how do you feel about next Thursday?
|The Camaldolese Monastery near Krakow|
Photo courtesy: Nicko's Photos
The Camaldolese monks - whose origins are in Italy but who run a monastery outside Krakow - met the squad before the tournament and the team staff promised to make a pilgrimage to the monastery if they got out of Group C.
No one expected coach Prandelli, his backroom team and federation vice president and former midfielder Demetrio Albertini to take the walk at 3am local time, shortly after arriving back in Krakow from beating the Irish 2-0 in Poznan.
The federation said in a statement that the group, who first 'had to deal with the jokes of the players... who went off to bed', took three-and-a-half hours to complete the walk and returned to the team base at 7am - by car. [Mail Online]
The second time, after beating England and reaching the semifinals, they went to a Franciscan convent near Wieliczka (a 7-mile nocturnal walk):
Italy's attacking spirit on the field is proving hard to beat. Coach Cesare Prandelli's religious commitment is also holding strong.
For the second time at the European Championship, Prandelli and his entire coaching staff celebrated a victory with a nocturnal pilgrimage to a monastery near the squad's base outside Krakow.
After the win over Ireland last week, the 14-member group embarked on a 21-kilometer (13-mile) trek at 3 a.m. to a Camaldolese monastery. This time they got a later start and walked only 11 kilometers (7 miles) to a closer monastery.
The reason for the delay and the shorter trip early Monday was because Italy required extra time and a penalty shootout to beat England in the quarterfinals on Sunday. Also, anti-doping authorities held up forward Mario Balotelli for an hour, delaying the flight back from Kiev, Ukraine.
The team plane touched down in Krakow at about 4 a.m. Then once the squad reached the team hotel in Wieliczka, the players went to bed and the staff — including security members and other officials — embarked on their pilgrimage. [SFGate]
|The Franciscan Convent near Wieliczka|
Photo courtesy: franciszkanie.pl
Well, what to say? Not that I think that prayers and pilgrimages may grant you victory over your enemies, er, I mean opponents—that would be a bit too easy, wouldn’t it? And yet, it is written: “If God with us who can be against us?” So if I were you, my German (and Portuguese, and Spanish) friends, I’d be very careful from now on—and don’t say I hadn’t told you so! But that being said, may the best team win!