Thursday October 11 2018
Inexperienced Italy look disjointed

Roberto Mancini has incorporated new faces in the Azzurri setup, but Billy Wilkinson saw a disjointed display against Ukraine.

One of the big criticisms of the Azzurri in recent years has been the seeming reluctance to incorporate new blood into the side. Newly hired Roberto Mancini quickly moved to mend that criticism, with the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Jorginho and Federico Bernardeschi becoming starters.

That may be a change, but there is one constant: no matter who seems to play in the XI, the performances still remain uninspiring and often clueless, whilst the results often correlate.

The first half against Ukraine started well both Bernardeschi and Leonardo Bonucci having chances inside 10 minutes. Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine quickly settled though and became a resilient, well coached defensive side. Gaps in the defence were hard to come by but after 55 minutes, Federico Bernardeschi came up with a blistering shot from outside the box that beat Andriy Pyatov at this near post.

You would have thought that Bernardeschi’s goal would give Italy some confidence considering they seem to lack it desperately under Mancini and Giampiero Ventura before him. However, the psyche of the team remains just as frail as it has been the past few years.

Midfielder Ruslan Malinovskiy scored the equaliser just seven minutes later, following a Mykyta Burda knock-on from a corner where Italy seemed to be seriously lacking attention and organisation. Both sides had a chance to steal the game but in truth neither side had the quality to do it convincingly as it finished 1-1.

Historically and more recently, under Antonio Conte, defending has been Italy’s strongpoint. With past sides, scoring one goal was enough to win the game as the defence and the defensive coaching from the CT would see them through.

However, at this point it seems to be more of a confidence and self-belief issue for La Nazionale. Chiellini and Bonucci seem like different players once they play internationally, as do the majority of the squad. Mancini’s reign started well with a win over Saudi Arabia, but there have been no wins since and it’s clearly damaging the players’ mentality.

The lack of integration of young players over the years seems to now be catching up with Italy. Their two most capped players in this squad are Chiellini and Bonucci with 98 and 82 caps respectively. Then there’s a massive drop off to Ciro Immobile with 34. It’s not a surprise that Italy look so disjointed.

Credit does have to go to Roberto Mancini, he gave the people what they wanted and tried to bring new blood into the side. The only issue is it doesn’t matter which players came into the side, this seems to be a period for Il Azzurri where talent is desperately lacking. The players are of course talented enough to beat lesser sides such as Ukraine, but it really does have to be noted that this is not a side as talented as the successful ones before.

Italy’s next game is a visit to Poland for the UEFA Nations League where a loss could place them with an almost impossible hill to climb to get to the next round.

Perhaps Mancini will have a few tricks up his sleeve but Italy’s chances for this one look slim, which is all you need to know about this Italian national team.

Have your say...
@ Anono stop calling athlete's Africans when they are citizens of France. Hell, I'm an American and we have 25 million people with the blood of Italian immigrants. Are they still Italians or Americans? Count Italian Immigrants & offspring in countries like Canada, Argentina, Australia, the rest of Europe, and we're talking at least 50 Million PEOPLE WITH ITALIAN BLOOD! Meanwhile, France's World Champs would "burn Italy a new ass" on the pitch in a qualifying match. France is a modern society.
on the 15th October, 2018 at 9:25am
Italy Tifoso
No i am missing no point. I think you are. I don't want to see Italy become like France. Africans and whoever else can play for their respective nations.
Take the Africans away from France and France would be left with the GK that is not the future I want for Italy.
It is international football not club football- soon there will be a nationality deadline day for international football; pick your nationality of choice before 31st Aug to Avoid missing a world cup.
on the 15th October, 2018 at 6:32am
Anonymous 1&2 you both miss my point. Italy has plenty of foreigners African and others within its borders. But at this stage they can't even become citizens even if born there. Maybe another Pogba or Weah is within your midst but they'll never even get a fair shot. Sports is about the best competing for a spot on the squad. That's where you all are losing. Stop complaining about how bad the Azzurri are if you want to exist in bubble of racist ignorance. There's no race in football. Just talent!
on the 14th October, 2018 at 1:58pm
@Italy Tifoso
Are you insane? One African team in Europe is more than enough. We 100% do not need to follow their set up.
I agree Italy is in the past but following your comments i would rather be in the past than a utd African nation.
on the 14th October, 2018 at 6:53am
@ Tifoso, I don't think Italy needs to import a bunch of Africans to win.. We can get better with our own lads... but agree that we are living in the past
on the 13th October, 2018 at 4:55pm
I found the opinion made by writer Bonucci very revealing by his comment on World Champs France's physicality. The point is that France and Italy are light years apart these days in all aspects of society both politically and culturally. Just look at the ethnic make-up of France's powerful side. They are the off-spring of immigrants. Sports is about competition open and honest as society advances in a modern way. Football has changed. Players are now large and fast. Italy is living in the past.
on the 13th October, 2018 at 8:57am
Your right. Lets fail to qualify for the next 2 tournaments and once we have failed we can say at least the teams young, great advise with fans like you we will never win anything again!
Mancini can experiment for the next 10years unless Serie A changes and quickly Mancini will be experimenting with players from Serie B. Are you alseep? The argument is he has no players of true quality to choose from so experimenting is pointless pick the strongest team regardless of age and win
on the 13th October, 2018 at 6:44am
Italy played a good first half and with a bit more luck could have scored 3 goals in that game... 2nd half wasn't that bad either...
on the 13th October, 2018 at 2:05am
Rewind a year ago Italy recently lost to Spain 3-0 in a WC qualifier with an experienced team and arrogant CT in Ventura. Italy had secured a playoff place and already lost the game to Sweden before a ball was kicked due to negative words and "it would be a catastrophe if Italy failed to qualify for the WC2018"!
Today, we have an inexperienced team that is learning, Mancini needs to experiment with the pool of players available. Give it time! STOP THE NEGATIVE TALK. GET BEHIND GLI AZZURRI
on the 12th October, 2018 at 9:37pm
Dear Mancini,

Stop calling Immobile and start putting Scuffet in goal.

Thank you.
on the 12th October, 2018 at 8:14pm
Diffrent times. 86 and 18 is a very diffrent time. 86 we were preparing oursleves with a youth set up that would see a baggio, maldini, albertini donadoni the list can go on and on... forward to now, who do we have? Juve full of foreigners, inter, milan, roma the same. We are picking up talent from Serie B teams.
The problem is overated, they are average at best.
@anonymous (8.46) i have watched the games there is no optimism in any of them terrible in every single game.
on the 12th October, 2018 at 8:23am
@CG so Italy should only take players from teams who are champions? Well that would be great, but the only team who wins in Italy is Juventus, and Juventus aren't exactly producing a plethora of Italian champions.
Look in your own backyard before accusing others.
on the 12th October, 2018 at 6:22am

Florenzi Romagnoli Chiellini Biraghi
Bernardeschi Jorginho Barella (Allan) Chiesa
Politano Balotelli


Bonucci Romagnoli Chiellini
Florenzi Jorginho Barella (Allan) Bonaventura El Sharaway
Cutrone Balotelli

With these two teams and formations, Italy can move forward positively. Continuing with the 4-3-3 and the same personnel is the definition of madness. If only the FIGC could impose an Italian quota in Serie A we would have even more to choose from. 3/3
on the 12th October, 2018 at 1:05am
Our team should look like this at all times, barring a few changes based on form or injuries.
GK: Donnarumma Sirigu Consigli
DEF: Calabria Bonucci Chiellini Biraghi Florenzi Acerbi Romagnoli D’Ambrosio
MID: Chiesa Verratti Jorginho Bonaventura Bernardeschi Barella Allan El Sharaway
FW: Politano Balotelli Cutrone Inglese

If you are sat on the bench and don’t get any game time (Perin, Rugani, Caldara, Orsolini) then you cannot be picked. Allan will need to get his passport, we need him. 2/3
on the 12th October, 2018 at 1:04am
After tonight’s game please, no more Immobile and Insigne. They are out of their depth fo La Nazionale and should not step foot in Coverciano again. We can be competitive again but we must get the tactics right. No more 4-3-3. Even though we have a surplus of wingers they are all average. What we need are the grit and determination that a 4-42 or 3-5-2 can give us. 1/3
on the 12th October, 2018 at 1:03am
So many of these comments are so wrong. Are they just looking at the results or are they actually watching the matches? Italy is getting better and better on the pitch, the result will come soon. A few players are out of form and will come back soon, the midfield is improving greatly, the attack is slowly growing. Right now, Italy just needs experience, decisiveness and a strong will, which they have. The comments that I've seen saying things like "Sack Mancini" are just stupid.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 9:46pm
I’d personally like to see Sirigu get a start. Just a little more experience and wiser and can command the back with defenders ie Chiellini Bonucci Romagnoli cuz of his age. I know this may effect or crush young Donnarumma, but he’s gotta go this route to greatness now since he blew his chance at being wunder-kid phenom. Needs to get tougher and confident mentally. Hopefully Mancini doesn’t get discouraged by squad pool. They need months of training camp. Can’t keep tinkering. Need SOLIDITY.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 9:40pm
No. The problem is, Mancini is a negative coach. He won with Inter because Juve was relegated. No other reason. Then he did a one season wonder (alla Rainieri) in the Premier League. The other problem is relying on small team players like Insigne, who have never won anything, and Jorginho, who is DEEP in the shadow of Albertini, Pirlo as a centre mid playmaker. It’s going to be a LONG next few years for us Italy fans....
on the 11th October, 2018 at 8:28pm
According to, Italy's players are valued at 622M Euros (6th highest?).

Verratti / Jorginho are two of the best CMs in the world.
Chiellini / Bonucci are one of the highest rated defensive partnerships
Immobile amazing goal scoring record. Berna is giving Dybala a run, Insigne is top Italian goalscorer this season, and Cutrone nominated for goldenboy
Donnarumma/Meret/Scuffet/Perin - impressive pool of young keepers

The problem is mentality, not skill.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 7:28pm
The big issues are at LB and CF, but overall I believe in the ability of this Italy side. Most these players are relative toddlers at the international level as the article says. They need some time. This was an improved performance.
It will take years to get anywhere near the top again, but I believe the talent is there to start a good project.

It's up to the players, Mancini, the clubs, and the FIGC to step up and handle the situation now. Fingers crossed I guess.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 6:36pm
I was encouraged by such a technical midfield with Barella and Verratti flanking but we were missing some physical presence. The player who fits the bill is Cristante but he's struggling for form atm. Maybe Pellegrini?

Chiellini I thought was the only player out there with champions mentality. His old-school grinta, win at all costs attitude needs to be absorbed by the others. In 2006, almost every player on the squad had this mentality.
Bonucci even loses it the moment Chiello is gone.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 6:24pm
I agree with Dan about the defense being exposed and the lone striker up top but I'd go 442. Unless Immobile, Belotti, Balotelli or Cutrone can lead the line by themselves (unlikely) then Italy must go 2 up top.
I'd try a striker up top partnered by Insigne, like what Ancelotti is doing so successfully at Napoli.
Berna, Chiesa, Bonaventura, Verdi, Berardi are good options for the wings.
Jorginho is a great player but he's not a destroyer and the back-line was getting exposed.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 6:16pm
even if the best italian coaches sarri, ancelotti & allegri steps in to the occasion and become the CT they will face difficulty to produce a powerful national team. azzurri is structuring itself. for a project; patience is needed to witness positive result.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 4:48pm
hey you guys i would like to remind you that after flop of WC ‘86 Azzurri started building up and it took Vinci 4 years until WC’90 to produce a strong team a respectable national team that is. so let us hope the CT & his group of players can accomplish a powerful team. and let’s not forget with the current philosophy of serie a clubs it is very hard and things might take some time to see azzurri shine again. again & again the clubs have to trust their italian players to play regularly.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 4:43pm
Sorry to be *that* person, but it's Gli Azzurri,not Il, Billy.

I wish Mancini would just stick to a defined tactical set-up that the players can learn. Take shots from outside the box, do something, anything. They don't know where to pass the ball. Side pass (x3), back to the defenders, then Bonucci hoofs a long ball. Rinse and repeat. Awful.

Is there hope? Always. Will hope come to fruition soon? Not a chance. Just hoping we can somehow, with a miracle, qualify for the Euro's.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 4:26pm
1 win in 10 games, adn that win came against saudi arabia. BYE MANCINI, if he was at a club team, he would be fired
on the 11th October, 2018 at 4:23pm
Absolute garbage, it is hard to believe it is this hard to score goals, they look like they are trying to set up the perfect goal. The height advantage was also a big factor, they should have abandoned the high balls. No sense of urgency. It is going to be a long climb back to the top.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 3:02pm
Since world cup failure we have just juat got worse and worse. No change to Serie A, Juve continue to be linked with every non-Italian, milan and Inter a not much better. Until the big clubs sort their youth teams out we have no chance of ever entering a major tournament again. A revolution woupd take a good 10years! This is why Mancini shouldn't be there, if no big coach had stepped up there would have to have been change but mancini brought hope- now look at us, a laughing stock!
on the 11th October, 2018 at 2:44pm
Mancini wants us to be patient. He wants us to focus on positives. I will do that when he shows me the revolution he went on about before and after he was appointed.
Throwing a bunch of players together is all he has done. He has no idea of his best team, best system or best anything. Bored of excuses. Bored of the results. We are utterly shameful so being whistled at and booed is completely merited people pay money to watch that rubbish. Mancini is worse than Ventura!
on the 11th October, 2018 at 2:31pm
I agree with Mancini, lets be patient. the trio of berna-insigne-chiesa isn't the long-term answer, but they are the best/most in form italian attackers at the moment, and I like that Mancini recognizes that and went for it. Get someone who can run in midfield next to jorginho, and things will start to come together.

As for the disjointedness - worth pointing out that no seria a team has a high level Italian core like those that have helped in years past, so yeah, it'll take more time
on the 11th October, 2018 at 2:28pm

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