The day after Mario Balotelli's brace sent Italy into the Euro 2012 final, Tuttosport's front page features a picture of the striker with his shirt off and the headline "Li abbiamo fatti neri" – "We made them black!" – which does seem a questionable choice of phrase to use next to a picture of a black footballer, but is an idiom meaning something along the lines of "we beat them black and blue".
Elsewhere, Italy has not had many opportunities of late to celebrate superiority over Germany, and they were certainly not about to waste the one handed to them by Balotelli last night. Angela Merkel takes a particularly personal beating, with the front page of Libero featuring a picture of Balotelli leathering a ball featuring the superimposed face of the German chancellor. The headline is "Vaffanmerkel", a corruption of the German leader's name and an Italian phrase suggesting in no uncertain terms that the subject go away immediately. "Grande Italia!" they add. "Germany were dominated and liquidated with two goals from SuperMario Balotelli." Il Giornale has a similar theme. Their front-page headline reads "Ciao Ciao Culona" – "Bye bye, fat ass". "It's not Monti but Balotelli, who with a brace destroys Germany and sends us into the final. Mrs Merkel, it's you who is leaving the Euro."
The Gazzetta dello Sport's front-page headline is "Siamo noi!" – "It's us!" "The whole of Italy is partying," they scream. In the Corriere dello Sport, it's "Giganti d'Italia" – Italy's giants. Corriere Della Serra and La Repubblica both lead with the latest news of Mario Monti's European negotiations, but that doesn't mean they're not excited. In the former, Mario Sconcerti describes last night as "perhaps Italy's finest performance since the war". "For the first time we played as if we ourselves were Germany," he writes. "We played as if giving freedom to the talented midfielders and two diverse attackers came naturally to us. Now losing to Spain would be a massive pain. We do not deserve it. The Spanish play, but we are inventing a new European football. It is our time." La Repubblica think it was "the perfect game" and "Prandelli's masterpiece."
"The midfield, with Pirlo – playing well enough to be considered a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or – pulling the strings, was again the focal point," write Gazzetta. "Yet again, the defence proved they're airtight. But it was in attack, where Italy have had something missing throughout the campaign, that Italy managed to step up a gear. Balotelli was the difference between the sides, but Cassano was also exceptional. Next up are Spain who, especially if they play the way they played against Portugal, don't look so scary now."
In Germany the talk is of nightmares and shattered dreams. Morgenpost devote their front page to a picture of Balotelli and the single word "albtraum" – "nightmare". "Aus! Aus! Der Traum ist Aus!" blubs Bilde – "Gone! Gone! The dream is gone!" "Again no great German victory. Again, no title," they report. "The last one we won was in 1996, 16 years ago." Sixteen years? Our heart bleeds. Come back in half a century and we might give you some sympathy. Anyway, we digress.
"And once again we lose to the Italians. The fact remains: in a tournament, we cannot beat them," they continue. "And our beautiful run of 15 competitive victories is broken. Oh, how bitter it tastes! Jogi, where were was your golden touch this time? Löw gambles, but what worked so well against Greece was wildly off the mark against Italy. Gomes and Podolski are total failures, and both need to be frozen out in the near future. Against Italy our Ozil tornado was just a gentle breeze – and the rest was not up to much. Schweinsteiger is an example – he has been nowhere near his World Cup form, and when it mattered he was very poor."
Die Welt insist "the script of the defeat carries Low's handwriting". "He chose the wrong tactics and the result was this bitter elimination." "History repeats itself," writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Italy remain Germany's nemesis. Low's squad rotation doesn't work, and Balotelli's goals put the Italians in the final." Sueddeutsche Zeitung insist: "The German team must ask itself why they once again produced a mistake-packed performance at the end of a major tournament."