Friday March 22 2019
Mancini: 'Real Italy objective begins'

Roberto Mancini hints Moise Kean could start for Italy in their Euro 2020 qualifying opener with Finland. “Our real objective begins.”

The Euro 2020 qualifying campaign kicks off on Saturday at 19.45 GMT.

Some adjustments have been prompted by injuries to Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Alessandro Florenzi.

“We had some doubts on the line-up, but they have now been resolved,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“We are convinced those who step on to the field will do well, even though others had been playing together for longer and knew each other better.

“The process of finding a formation to rely on was rushed more than anticipated, but our real objective begins from tomorrow, which is to play good football and score more goals.”

Juventus teenager Kean is reportedly going to be in the trident attack with Federico Bernardeschi and Ciro Immobile, his first Italy start after a single substitute appearance in November.

“We’ll see who plays tomorrow. I expect Kean to do what he does best. He doesn’t have Insigne’s experience, but does bring physicality, enthusiasm and an eye for goal. We hope he’ll bring joy to the team.”

Mancini was always fairly clear on the fact the Nations League was of minimal interest, as Italy finished second behind Portugal and avoided relegation by beating Poland.

“Euro 2020 qualification was the primary objective and we honoured the Nations League to the end, but from tomorrow it becomes fundamental not only that we win, but also improve our ranking and potential draw going forward. We’d like to improve our ranking, as the current picture isn’t one we like very much.

“I believed in this project from the first day, in the players who were already here and the youngsters who could join us. Clearly, there will have to be choices, and the most difficult thing is leaving someone at home. We have improved a great deal over the last 10 months and that is positive.”

The Azzurri begin their qualifying campaign against Finland, with Liechtenstein coming up on Tuesday evening.

“Finland are very difficult to play against and have done really well over the last two or three years. Teemu Pukki is one of their best players, who scored so many goals in the English Championship with Norwich City and is not too far off scoring them in the Premier League,” continued Mancini.

“We’ve got to be calm and focus on our own brand of football. Only this, playing well, can create lots of scoring opportunities and allow us to defend solidly too. It’s not going to be a simple task.”

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