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...
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
I think we're on the right path and need to be patient, as others have stated. Need more height in the line up though. I was impressed by the sheer height and physicality of France's 11 at the world cup without sacrificing technical skill. Juve have a similar combo. Do Italy actually have the personnel for it? Balotelli if he gets back on form. Any tall and powerful mids? Locatelli possibly. It's a shame the likes of Florenzi, Insigne, Verratti are so short.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 1:54pm
The first half was probably the best half Italy played for some time. That said Bonucci, Chiellini, Immobili and Insigne all look like completely different players from how they preform for their clubs.

There are a few positives. Barella, Jorginho and Verratti played decently well together, and Berna and Chiesa are both consistently earning their starting spots.

Still cautiously optimistic that things will start to click. Though I'm not sure it will happen for a decent result in Nat. League
on the 11th October, 2018 at 1:53pm
i appriciate mancini for what he has done until now, had a inside out view of italian players rosters. But now the most difficult task to ink down , whom you will trust upon, whom not. Italy have a culture to follow which is a real mix of legends and brighting stars(like de rossi in 2006wc). But the current crops of players are all youngsters! And italy started worship a bright star like verrati. My idea is the team has no choice but trust upon all of the veterans; chielleni, bonucci, de rossi, quagliarella; all of them who still remains. In this situation player like veratti get courage to hold the mantle and youngsters like pellegrini, cristante get advance without any fear. Thats how you prosper. You trust balotelli, fine, stick with him and forget immobille because there is also bellotti and zaza...
on the 11th October, 2018 at 1:23pm
Opposing teams sit compact in defence against Italy & hit us on the counter & have been doing so with success for years Ultimately it is our defence that is poor, we concede too often in a weak manner. With all the young players Italy has in midfield & attack, I feel sooner or later goals will start to come from a source, prob Beradi or Chiesa. But the team looks terrified of conceding all the time. Bonucci & Chiellini aren't the answer, but who else? We need to find great defenders again!
on the 11th October, 2018 at 12:44pm
Aside from our abysmal finishing, the biggest problem that I see is that the 2 CB's get constantly exposed. There is no steel in front of them (how we miss DDR) and the full backs: all of them, are just not good enough defensively. To mitigate this, I would revert back to a 352. This would also allow Insigne to play sa a 2nd forward. None of our CF's are good enough to spearhead the attack on their own, & desperately need another body in closer proximity.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 12:14pm
I'm sorry but I do not agree with your report.I saw the game and I was pleased how they tried.Yes, we do have the problem in scoring.However, Chiesa should have passed to Insigne instead of going alone.It was entertaining and they also looked on form contrary to the two games in September.Mancio is right, we need to be patient.We will improve every time.At the end of the day ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY!We are definitely on the right path.Forza Italia.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 12:09pm
You've got to feel sorry for Mancini because he's got a huge job on his hands.He isn't doing himself any favours though because his idea of using a fresh injection of youth seems lacking in planning. It's like he's throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks!He's better off picking the strongest side he can and keeping it fairly consistent, hopefully resulting in a more coherent team.At the moment we are disjointed and lacking creativity.This roulette style of management won't work.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 11:24am
Nice article, with this squad we should`ve beat Ukraine comfortably. We definitely need a goal scorer and putting Insigne as the "target man" or false 9 was a mistake. Would`ve rather put in a Beradi (even out of form Belloti) in his place. Played well in the 1st half but fell away in the 2nd need to keep the intensity. Immobile sorry to say has no place in the set up even if he is scoring in the league it doesn`t manifest itself in the national team. Think 4-4-2 would`ve suited the game better.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 10:46am

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