It wasn't quite the Game of the Century, be that the 20th or the 21st century, but at least it gave us the (joint-)longest penalty kick shootout in European Championships history and we got to witness something we've literally never seen before: Germany beating or eliminating Italy at a major tournament.
They tried and failed in the World Cups of 1970, 1982, and 2006, as well as in Euro 2012 and 1996. The key this time was taking the match into a penalty kick shootout, which, as we know, the Germans simply don't lose (although Schweinsteiger did his best May 19th impression). In fact, the Germans missed three penalties and still advanced, thanks to some horrendous misses from Simone Zaza (put on precisely for this one job) and Graziano Pellè (who's a great target man, but still not sure he's good for anything other than that), and Matteo Darmian (who just got himself put on Mourinho's to-sell list).
Leonardo Bonucci, who drew the Azzurri level during regulation from the spot, also saw his kick in the shootout saved. He might never take another penalty in his career, but his confident equalizer did give Twitter a chance to recount the mad story of the Juventus defender facing and chasing down an armed robber.
Meanwhile, the game itself was a far less spectacular of an occasion, Italy effectively stifling Germany but unlike against Spain, lacking the necessary cutting edge to take advantage of any openings. Perhaps Conte could've introduced Lorenzo Insigne a little earlier than he did, but it was clear that the one thing the incoming Chelsea boss wasn't going to allow is for his team to lose in regulation or in extra time. There were herculean efforts put in by the likes of Giaccherini (again), Parolo (still don't know who he is), De Sciglio (if only he'd be able to pick a pass earlier), and Florenzi (who played a big part in Germany's goal, but was also responsible for the best highlight of the game).
That Florenzi clearance... pic.twitter.com/fRAZVBWYzz— Juvefc.com (@juvefcdotcom) July 2, 2016
In the end, it wasn't enough. There's probably no shame in losing the defending World Champions. When the squads were announced, nobody expected Italy to make it this far, this impressively. They couldn't quite write third chapter of the book that already included chapters on Belgium and Spain, but that's just how football goes sometimes. Germany now get ready for another epic clash against the winner of France and Iceland, while Conte gets to relax for a few days before Chelsea preseason starts.
He may have lost today, but Italy's run at Euro 2016 has invariably gotten us excited for the new season. So let's get that started.