We all new it was coming, and it happened at the hour mark last night. Antonio Candreva made way for Federico Bernardeschi on the right wing. We saw the future of the Azzuri, and was as majestic as a 1-1 draw can be.
Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but Berna was his usual active self, buzzing all over the pitch, harrying opposing defenders, looking to take on his man, and occasionally showing some of the technique we've grown accustomed to. As one might expect from an Antonio Conte team, his energy levels were impressive, even if the end result wasn't quite there on a night where Italy dominated without managing to garner a win. The Fiorentina youngster, while not the main man (take a bow, Lorenzo Insigne), certainly didn't look out of place on the star-studded pitch in Udine, and indeed was crucial in the buildup to the only Azzuri goal.
Interviewed after the match, Berna seemed pleased with the industry and effort Italy showed, although he rued some missed (and offside) chances. Maintaining the humility that's endeared him to the Fiesole, he added that, he addressed the potential of a spot in the Euro squad: "I only worry about working hard and listening to my coach and my teammates." While the fans love his down-to-earth personality, his coaches are more enamored of his willingness and ability to play a variety of positions, both out wide and through the middle. When asked which preferred, he demurred: "I feel good both on the wing and central." He also shouted out to mentor and Italy U21 coach Luigi di Biagio, but, more importantly to Viola fans, reaffirmed his love of the club shirt and pooh-poohed the Barcelona rumors.
All in all, I think we can call this a rousing success for B1 (or is he B2?), and look forward to seeing a lot more from him in a blue shirt over the next decade or so. Congratulations, young man. You're doing it.