Sunday September 8 2019
Mancini: 'Italy changes with Finland'

Roberto Mancini confirmed he will “make four or five changes” to the Italy line-up against Finland this evening after the 3-1 win in Armenia.

It kicks off at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) in Tampere, as the top two in Euro 2020 qualifying Group J face off.

“I think four or five changes certainly, as we need fresher legs and then we’ll see during the game, how it develops, also how players recover over the next few hours before kick-off,” the CT told Rai Sport.

It’s reported Torino defender Armando Izzo will come in as a makeshift right-back, with Francesco Acerbi in for Alessio Romagnoli.

“We’ve got 22 players, so we’ll see, everything is possible. If you count those who already played, then you can probably figure it out.

“Lorenzo Pellegrini for Barella? Maybe. Stefano Sensi for Marco Verratti, well, that’s the only one that’s certain, as Verratti is suspended.

“It was a tough game, we had two very long journeys in a couple of days, so inevitably there are going to be quite a few changes. We had, for example, a muscular problem with a player and this morning he had recovered, so it’s all about evaluating the fitness.

“A game away from home in Finland, against a side that won every game after losing to us, undoubtedly it’s the toughest fixture of the group and they are the form team right now.”

With Giorgio Chiellini injured, there was some criticism of the Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli centre-back pairing, which is why Lazio’s Acerbi could step in tonight.

“I just asked for a little more focus. Armenia came to press us and we weren’t determined enough in our approach at the start. We need to work harder, but must also remember we are up against opponents who want to play their game.

“It’s not true that Armenia created a thousand chances, they just had three or four counter-attacks, so it’s not fair to say the defensive partnership didn’t work.”

Mancini was asked if this is more or less the Italy squad we’ll see entering Euro 2020 next summer.

“The squad is pretty much formed. There might be a few adjustments before the tournament, but basically this is it.

“We must try to win as much as possible, not just to qualify, but to improve the FIFA ranking and give us a better draw in future. We’ve brought a lot of young players through and some, for example Sandro Tonali, will get to play in the build-up to Euro 2020.”

Mancini has won his last six competitive games on the Italy bench, so is he targeting 1934 and 1938 World Cup winner Vittorio Pozzo’s all-time record of nine?

“Records are good, but it’d be better to win what Pozzo did!”

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