NEWS
Saturday September 2 2017
Player Ratings: Spain 3-0 Italy

Italy were thrashed 3-0 by Spain in their crucial World Cup qualifier, all but condemning the Azzurri to the play-offs.

CT Giampiero Ventura’s decision to go with an all-out attacking 4-2-4 formation backfired, as Italy lost their first qualifier in 11 years.

Words: Gaby McKay

Gianluigi Buffon - 5

Some will argue he could have positioned himself better for Isco’s free-kick which led to the opening goal, though the Real Madrid man’s strike beat a huge wall.

Could do nothing with the second goal, which kissed the inside of the post before going in, nor the third. Made a fine second half save from Dani Carvajal.

Matteo Darmian - 6

Probably the Azzurri’s best player on the night, though that’s hardly saying much.

Kept David Silva quiet and linked-up well with Antonio Candreva, stepping out intelligently to catch Spain offside in one second half move.

Andrea Barzagli - 5

Playing against a false-nine, the Juventus man’s strengths - his ability in one-on-ones, the intelligent occupation of space - were largely negated.

Couldn’t truly be blamed for any of the goals, but the 36-year-old showed his age at times in a back-four. It may have been different had Giorgio Chiellini been fit, but the veteran was simply unable to step forward to stop the Spanish attacks.

Leonardo Bonucci - 4

Arguably the best defender in the world had one of his worst performances in an Italy shirt.

His one moment of quality, a trademark raking long ball for Belotti, was wrongly called offside and Bonucci will know he could have done far more.

Gave away a silly free-kick for the opener and utterly failed to stop Sergio Ramos from providing the third. On a night where his ability to build from the back was crucial, the 30-year-old failed to deliver.

Leonardo Spinazzola - 3

Hadn’t played a single competitive game all season and it showed.

In some ways he was hung out to dry by Ventura’s team selection, but the Atalanta full-back offered nothing in defence or attack.

The fact Sergio Ramos had the confidence to break into the box and set up the third goal speaks volumes.

Daniele De Rossi - 5

Another who was hamstrung by the CT’s approach, De Rossi did as well as could be expected given he was effectively holding back the red sea by himself at times.

Doesn’t have the mobility to play in a two-man midfield anymore, especially if his partner doesn’t turn up. Questions will be asked as to why he couldn’t have played in a back-three with Bonucci and Barzagli.

Marco Verratti - 3

On his day the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder can be utterly unplayable, but this was very much not his day.

For all the flaws with Ventura’s approach, he’d have expected Verratti to pick pinpoint passes, as well as carrying the ball through the Spanish press.

He has the ability to do both those things, but failed to give even a semblance of either. Worse still he was utterly lightweight defensively, allowing Isco to stroll past him for the second goal.

As 50 per cent of a two-man midfield, he was half the player we all know he can be.

Antonio Candreva - 5

Candreva may not be the most technically gifted player at the disposal of La Nazionale, but he can’t be reproached for effort.

Fluffed the only real chance for Italy to get back into it, but his direct running was the only slight headache the Spanish faced, and he was diligent in protecting Matteo Darmian.

Andrea Belotti - 4

Tonight’s task was an utterly thankless one for both strikers, and Belotti looked the more dangerous of the two.

Wrongly called offside on a stunning Bonucci pass, but he had miscontrolled it anyway.

Ciro Immobile - 3

It would be unfair to deride Immobile on this performance, given the lack of support from midfield, but the Lazio striker showed nothing.

Utterly unable to hold the ball up in the final third, and had neither the pace or the physicality to trouble the Spanish defence.

Lorenzo Insigne - 4

Another who was totally isolated, given Leonardo Spinazzola’s inability to overlap.

The Napoli man contributed nothing in attack, but he stuck to his defensive task in an unfamiliar role as an orthodox winger.

A poor performance but Insigne, perhaps more than any other player, was hampered by Ventura’s set-up.

Substitutes:

Federico Bernardeschi - 2

Another who hasn’t played a single minute of competitive football this season, the idea that he’d come on and change the game was ridiculous.

Eder - 2

Even Eder probably wondered why he was being brought on at 2-0 down in the Bernabeu.

Gabbiadini - N/A

Came on with just over 10 minutes left and Italy already 3-0 down.

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