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Italian fans look forward to facing France
"We can beat anybody"
 real 28k

Italian fans on finally winning a penalty shootout
"We normally don't take penalties very well"
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK banner
Forza Italia!
The Azzuri celebrate their semi-final victory
The Azzuri celebrate their semi-final victory
By BBC Sport Online's Pete Lansley

Italian fans reckon that now they have banished their shootout phobia after their ten men overcame 11 Dutchmen, the Euro title is beckoning.

Toni Messinella, 23, and his 16-year-old brother Maurizio live near the German border in Holland.

After witnessing Thursday night's semi-final triumph over the Dutch, not even world champions France present them with any fear.

"We can beat France," said Maurizio. "We have won a very difficult match against Holland so morally we are very high.



If ten have beaten 11, now we can beat anybody

Italian fan Maurizio Messinella

"If ten have beaten 11, now we can beat anybody."

Holland, heart of the Low Countries, has never been as flat as in the 48 hours since Francesco Toldo pulled off his penalty heroics.

Up in Amsterdam, ready for the oranje party to surpass all others, the shops still carry balloons and bunting in the national colour but more out of a lethargic unwillingness to pull them down than any lingering enthusiasm.

Nipping down to Rotterdam on Friday afternoon, a massive sports shop still has the 22 named-shirts of the Dutch squad revolving on a display.


Young Dutch fans stunned by defeat
Young Dutch fans stunned by defeat
But each of them now bears the offer 'half price' slung over the name.

If Holland is a country in mourning, just as Belgium was a nation indifferent, there are pockets of excited French and Italians swirling through gradually on Saturday morning.

Toni said: "Like Holland, Italy don't usually take the penalties very well.

"We lost two years ago in the world championship, when we lost to France, and in 1990 when we lost the semi-final to Argentia on penalties.

Heroes

"Finally Italy have played with the heart and we are in the final.

"France are a very technical team and Zidane is the perfect player.

"But I hope Italy, forza Italia, will again play from the heart as they have in the semi-final, ten prevailing over 11, facing two penalties and still coming through.

"Alessandro Del Piero is our favourite player but when I saw Alessando Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro play against Holland, they were formidable.

"They were heroes."

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Italy through on penalties
30 Jun 00 | Italy
Toldo makes his mark
30 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Dutch fire blanks in shoot-out
29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Holland v Italy clockwatch
29 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
Standing tall in the Low Countries
29 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
Dignity in defeat?
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