Gigi Di Biagio makes his debut as Italy Under-21 Coach against Slovakia tomorrow. “There will be changes.”
He had been in charge of the Under-20 team, but made the step up when Devis Mangia’s contract expired after the European Under-21 Championship.
The friendly kicks off at 17.00 UK time on Wednesday in Senec.
“It is the second time I have made my debut against Slovakia, as I also earned my first cap against them in January 1998,” smiled the former Roma and Inter midfielder in a Press conference.
“I believe in fate and think coincidences never just happen by chance. We joked about this, but maybe it’s a positive sign.
“There will be some changes already from the first game, as I’ve been working with most of these lads for the last two years at Under-20 level. I know them and they know what I want.
“We’ll try to put into practice the directives I’ve given them. Inevitably our style of football will remain the same, as all the youth sectors from 15 to 21 have one basic approach.
“As always, Italy will try to take the initiative, play good football, give our all in attack and try to score. The objective is to play good football and win the game in a certain way.
“Over the years we’ve shown Italian football is not inferior to other foreign schools, as in many cases it is superior. Therefore we’re on the right track with excellent co-ordination between all the age levels of the Nazionale.”
Some of the Under-21 internationals have been poached by the senior squad, including Lorenzo Insigne, Stephan El Shaarawy, Alessandro Florenzi and Mattia De Sciglio.
“If someone is not in our squad today, that doesn’t mean they won’t be in future,” added Di Biagio.
The Azzurrini dropped Francesco Fedato due to disciplinary issues at Bari, while Nicola Leali and Federico Viviani are injured.
Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi was also left out after he turned down an earlier call-up for the Italy Under-19 team.
“I had four or five offers from Serie B teams that I didn’t even take into consideration, because I am concentrated on the Azzurri. Maybe when I feel ready then I’ll consider the idea of coaching a club, but that is in the future.”
Finally, Di Biagio commented on Arrigo Sacchi’s claim there are too many foreign players in Serie A.
“It’s true that the foreign imports are making it less likely for young Italian talent to be picked. Paradoxically the financial crisis, as well as the good Under-21 results, helped the situation. We’d need more Coaches like Zdenek Zeman who have the courage to play youngsters in the top flight.”
Italy Under-21 squad for Slovakia: Bardi (Livorno), Pigliacelli (Delfino Pescara); Antei (Sassuolo), Bianchetti (Verona), Biraghi (Cittadella), Di Lorenzo (Reggina), Frascatore (Delfino Pescara), Masi (Ternana), Piccini (Livorno), Sabelli (Bari); Baselli (Atalanta), Battocchio (Watford), Benassi (Livorno), Crisetig (Crotone), Fossati (Bari); Belotti (Albinoleffe), Comi (Novara), Gatto (Lanciano), Improta (Chievo Verona), Longo (Inter), Piscitella (Delfino Pescara), Politano (Delfino Pescara)