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Tuesday March 26 2019
Liecht at the end of the tunnel?

It was heartening to see an Italy goalfest after what felt like years, but Giancarlo Rinaldi won’t get too excited about thrashing 10-man Liechtenstein.

The middle road is not one often taken by football fans, particularly Italian ones. We lurch from profound despair over a defeat to ecstatic joy in victory - sometimes in the space of a few days. It is something which supporters are allowed to indulge in, of course, but Roberto Mancini will surely be working to avoid.

A 2-0 victory over Finland had many decidedly underwhelmed, but the Stadio Tardini was the scene of an all-you-can-eat goal buffet against Liechtenstein.

It prompted the more exuberant to claim that the Azzurri were back in business and a force to be reckoned with once more. However, those who have been watching more attentively in recent years will surely want a little more evidence before they get quite so carried away.

Make no mistake, this was a refreshing change to what has passed our way in recent times. Mancio’s young team - and veteran Fabio Quagliarella - showed the kind of attitude that has been sorely missing as they picked apart their hapless opponents. By the end of the night, it felt only right to omit the L from the surname of visiting midfielder Michele Polverino to make him Poverino - poor soul in Italian.

Of course, the boys in blue have made heavy weather of this kind of game in the past - although even under Giampiero Ventura they did manage 4-0 and 5-0 wins over Liechtenstein in their ill-fated World Cup qualifiers. Nonetheless, it was nice to see them go at their task with determination and vigour and rarely take their foot off the gas.

Even the post-Finland miserabilists had to crack half a smile or at least appeared to stay off social media for a wee while. Don’t worry, folks, they’ll be back with a vengeance soon to take issue with anything mildly optimistic you might care to say. So enjoy the relief while you can.

It was lovely to see old Quags get his goals, little Stefano Sensi score a header and Marco Verratti strike just moments after the commentator suggested he needed to score more goals. All of it was achieved with an approach which was light years from the drudgery we had got used to under the previous the regime. That it came on the same day that Italy’s Under-19s and Under-17s qualified for their European championships only added to the feelgood factor. But, just the same, we would all be well advised to sound a note of caution - at least for the time being.

Yes, it was great to beat Liechtenstein, but this was a side hammered 8-0 by Spain in World Cup qualification - twice - so they hardly represented a stern test. If you were looking for credentials for a serious European Nations challenge, you would be better advised to wait for the group games with Bosnia and Greece before making a judgment. Mancini will be pleased to see his team is on the right track, but anything other than two wins in these opening two fixtures was unthinkable.

Instead, it will be the Coach’s job to keep a lid on the understandable excitement that such a sizeable victory can generate. We tifosi are entitled to savour such successes and adorn them with extravagant statements about one of world football’s big hitters being on the road to recovery. Those in charge of the team, on the other hand, will know that the journey is probably still a bit longer than we would like to think it is.

This side isn’t as bad as some proclaimed it after Finland, nor as brilliant as others might wish to think after this ceremonial thrashing. But, if they can take this attitude into forthcoming fixtures, then we really might have something to get excited about.

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Have your say...
This Italy team has quickness and dribbling ability. A well coached team with this athletic ability will do well. I believe they are well coached.
on the 31st March, 2019 at 4:32am
I hope and pray this is the last time we see Immobile in an Italy shirt, he is awful. 36 caps and 7 goals is abysmal. Insigne has a lot to do going forward to get a recall for me also. Hopefully see Chiesa injury free and back in the next squad also Calabria, Conti ,Rugani, Cutrone, and Balotelli. If immobile is good enough to get called up then why not give Caputo a chance, I feel he deserves a callup having a really good season with struggling Empoli.
on the 29th March, 2019 at 12:19pm
You can only beat what is in front of you and I thought we where excellent from minute 1 to 90. We put them to the sword, lots of positives to take but also a lot of hard work to do going forward. I think things are looking up in all the age categories, lots of talent. The only downside is we have Di Biagio in charge of the under 21s, he is clueless and has failed at 2 tournements we could easily have won. How he is still in charge is a total mystery.
on the 29th March, 2019 at 12:14pm
We all know Liechtenstein is no litmus test. The pleasing part of this result was that the Azzurri actually took to their opportunity to complete a ceremonial thrashing. For most other nations this is considered normal. Yet Italy has become accustomed to sit on the edge and suffer for 90 minutes, only to scrape in 1-0 win. Great to see six goals, though the most pleasing factor is that we finally have the evolution of a youthful Azzurri.
on the 28th March, 2019 at 1:33pm
I have to be honest, it was like watching a very good school team beating a poor one. I thought there was a lack of smoothness to Italy and an awful lot of passes went awry. I can believe I'm saying this but England are the model, in terms of bringing players through. Keep them coming but try to find some consistency between the qualification games so we're ready for the tournament. If not, we'll qualify, but do very little against the big guns.
on the 28th March, 2019 at 12:49pm
Great to see so many young guns coming through. Verratti has shark teeth, like Rino with horn and a dorsal fin. No celestial orchestral symphony just yet, lots of gifted maestros who need to blend their genius into the greater good. Then we kick serious butt.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 11:04pm
It's funny to read what the media writes. Let's see when we are only winning 1 or 2-0 against these weaker teams they complain why can't Italy explode and wrack up the goals. Now that we win 6-0 it's all about well Liech. sucks and they are a weak side. Give me a break. This team is very young and they are getting a little bit better every time out. There is still a long way to go but they have the right coach who wants to play an aggressive attacking style of football.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 8:56pm
We've been playing very well ever since the friendly against Ukraine. I think that was the first time that Verratti, Jorginho & Barella played together. The only downer has been the lack of goals. Last night was another step forward for the attack, but we were still very wasteful at times, & this will cost us against the top sides. For now, I'd go with Kean, Quags, & Chiesa as they clearly relish the big stage, whereas Berna & Immobile, appear to wither in the blue jersey.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 11:59am
We've been playing very well ever since the friendly against Ukraine. I think that was the first time that Verratti, Jorginho & Barella played together. The only downer has been the lack of goals. Last night was another step forward for the attack, but we were still very wasteful at times, & this will cost us against the top sides. For now, I'd go with Kean, Quags, & Chiesa as they clearly relish the big stage, whereas Berna & Immobile, appear to wither in the blue jersey.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 11:58am
Let's be honest here. Yes, you can only beat what is in front of you, and it was good to see new, young players.

But it was poor — disjointed, stuttering, and seemingly without a game plan or style of play. It was like watching England 5 yrs ago (a group of players who haven't played with each other before, playing for themselves most of the time with luck deciding which passes were completed). And why, oh why, are they still not playing in traditional blue and white (against a team in red)???
on the 27th March, 2019 at 11:57am
We scored 4 against 11 men then only 2 in the second half.Ok fair enough.Overall it was a fast,attacking performance.We could have scored more of course.Mancini has got Italy playing an exciting brand of football.Kean could be a major superstar.Yes we played a pub team and we all know that and that's how it will be for most of the qualifiers.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 10:26am
Let's just enjoy this win for what it was, a good thrashing of a minnow in a competitive fixture. Great to see the young guys given a chance and Mancini allowed the opportunity to experiment with a different lineup.

It's been decades since we last scored more than 5 so as an Azzurri fan this is a good day!! It wasn't too long ago really that we had the unfortunate experience of management under that clown Ventura and missing out of the WC. We are leaps ahead of that very dark time.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 8:37am
I think the main difference for this game was the fullbacks. spinazolla was excellent while biraghi and piccini was poor the last game. kean is continuing to torment defences with his pace. and it is all while he is playing out of position out wide but he is still doing well to get central in those goalscoring areas. my front 3 right now would be bernadeshi-Kean- Chiesa. but it would be tough to leave out quagliarella because he has been excellent. Verratti was excellent.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 6:20am
I agree that Italy need to now prove themselves against tougher opposition, but I also think that it's a bit harsh to dismiss this victory. It's their largest victory in 57 years and I'm sure that in that time better Italian squads have played similar teams and not achieved a similar result. The article itself mentions how Spain, with one of the best national squads of all time beat Liechtenstein 8-0 twice. This was 6-0 with a bunch of kids. So I'd say: Forza Italia!
on the 27th March, 2019 at 4:05am
"if they can take this attitude into forthcoming fixtures, then we really might have something to get excited about." This really does get to the heart of it. If Italy can keep playing with enthusiasm then we might finally be seeing a team that can realistically win some silverware in the coming years. Time will tell, but today's match was fun regardless.
on the 27th March, 2019 at 2:53am
I am excited... I see new talent, young talent... and a coach not coaching in a 1980s mode.

This wasn't France that italy played.. but under Ventura, italy would have squeaked by with a 1-0 win or better yet, 0-0 draw! And under Conte, we would have seen a bunch of the same old tired vets - probably Eder and Montolivo!
on the 27th March, 2019 at 1:45am

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