Wednesday September 4 2019
Mancini: 'Armenia can push Italy'

Roberto Mancini has “one doubt” for his Italy starting XI and believes Armenia “have a chance of pushing for Euro 2020 qualification.”

It kicks off in Yerevan on Thursday at 17.00 UK time, then they visit Finland on Sunday, and the Azzurri are trying to maintain their 100 per cent record in the group after four straight wins.

“Our objective from the start was to qualify as soon as possible. We’ve done well so far, there can be difficulties after a four-month break and some players won’t be at 100 per cent physically, but these are two fundamental games for qualification,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“Armenia mainly play in leagues that started some time ago, have enthusiasm after their victory in Athens and will know Italy have always had problems here.

“We cannot think that we’re going into an easy game, because there is no such thing. Armenia’s greatest strength is in attack, as they have four very good strikers with different characteristics, so that is where we must be wary.

“They changed their Coach not long ago and needed a little time to adapt, so struggled in their first two matches, but are just getting stronger. That is why we need to be very careful.

“Armenia are third in the group, coming off two very good results, so they have a chance of pushing for qualification, certainly.”

Stefano Sensi has been very impressive in the first two games of the season for Inter, so could he start for Italy?

“Sensi has a possibility of starting, there are two games to be played, so we’ll see.”

Italy have had to change their squad repeatedly over the last few days as injuries piled up for the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia De Sciglio and Leonardo Spinazzola.

“It’s common at the start of the season, as you immediately go into important games without enough training time. Plus we’ve lost three players to some pretty serious injuries, which is a great pity, whereas the others will be back soon.

“It’s important for us to pick up where we left off, which is the second half against Bosnia. Unfortunately, that was months ago and there are inevitably going to be difficulties, but we’ll try to do our best in a moment of difficulty.

“The key is to focus on the same approach, which is very attack-minded, and that will improve as time goes on.”

Considering Torino started the season earlier to take part in the Europa League preliminary rounds, does that mean Andrea Belotti is the favourite ahead of Ciro Immobile to lead the line?

“Let’s be honest here, we have picked 10 of the starting XI and there is one doubt. I haven’t said who the doubt is or in what area and I won’t tell you now!”

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