Roberto Mancini hints at Italy changes in Finland, warning “this is an extremely delicate match” and telling off Leonardo Bonucci for conduct unbecoming of a captain.
It kicks off on Sunday in Tampere at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) and the only difference between these sides in Euro 2020 qualifying Group J is the 2-0 Italy victory in March.
There are reports Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stephan El Shaarawy and Armando Izzo could step into the starting XI.
“We will certainly make changes from Armenia, as Pellegrini does have a possibility of playing, although more in midfield than as part of the forward line,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“There are some who are tired and I need to evaluate them. We are at the start of the season and playing two games so close together with such long journeys between them does take it out of you. We’ll see how Andrea Belotti, Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are feeling.”
Italy struggled to break down 10-man Armenia on Thursday, eventually winning 3-1, but Bonucci was criticised for getting Aleksandre Karapetyan sent off.
“I haven’t spoken to him, nor had time to examine this situation, as I had more important things to do,” said Mancini when asked about the incident.
“I don’t know if he was struck or what the referee saw. If he did something that he shouldn’t have, then he ought to be more careful, being the captain now. To be honest, I preferred the game when it was 11 against 11, as there were more spaces and Armenia weren’t all clammed up in defence.”
Finland have won their last four qualifiers, keeping clean sheets, and squeezed past Greece 1-0 on Thursday.
“Some of them had club seasons that started a while ago, which means their fitness levels are better than ours. They are solid and compact to concede so few goals and it’s a very difficult game, but we came here to win.
“It’s going to be tough and arrives in a delicate moment for the Nazionale, traditionally, because we’re just getting going. This is an extremely delicate match at the best of times, as Finland fully deserve to be in second place and can catch us with a victory.
“It’s important to get qualification for Euro 2020 locked down as soon as possible, as that will allow us to test out a few young players who could be useful in future. We have to win anyway, always, to improve the FIFA ranking and therefore our World Cup qualification draw.”
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