Friday September 4 2020
Now Immobile must deliver for Italy

Ciro Immobile won the European Golden Shoe and seems unstoppable for Lazio, but Lee Bushe looks at why he’s a different beast in the Italy jersey.

When Lazio paid Borussia Dortmund €8.75m for Ciro Immobile in 2016, an inconsistent and somewhat immature striker approaching his peak, few would’ve been able to predict what the next four years would hold. Simply put, he refined his game and became one of Europe’s most lethal strikers in the process. 

He has been the protagonist of Lazio’s renaissance under Simone Inzaghi, having scored 103 goals in 142 appearances. Last season’s 36 in Serie A him the Capocannoniere crown and the European Golden Shoe, beating the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo to the award. 

So, naturally, Immobile was one of the first names on Roberto Mancini’s squad list as Italy prepare for their first international fixtures in nearly 10 months. But there’s an understandable scepticism as to whether he can replicate his club form with the national team, since he has struggled in this regard throughout his Azzurri career.

His record of 10 goals in 39 appearances demonstrates that, although this statistic only tells half the story. First called up by Cesare Prandelli in March 2014 amid an excellent campaign for Torino, it would take him five caps to register his first international goal, and was part of the Italy side that crashed out of the 2014 World Cup at the group stage.

After that first international goal in September 2014, he would earn 10 more caps before getting another one - a goalscoring drought of two years. In that time, he represented four clubs and played in three different countries.

Immobile’s inconsistency both for club and country at around this time can be attributed, in retrospect, to his nomadic early career. He had never stayed at a club for longer than a year, meaning he had to constantly adapt to different styles of play and teammates, and at a couple of points, adapt to living in a new country. It can’t have been good for his confidence.

He has finally found his home at Lazio, however, and has been allowed to flourish while playing under the same coach, the same style-of-play and practically the same teammates. It’s no coincidence that an improvement in his international performances coincided with this. Indeed, he was Italy’s top scorer in their ill-fated 2018 World Cup qualification campaign, scoring six goals in 12 appearances.

After that, he endured another international goal drought, which went on for another two years. It was inexplicable. He appeared to have turned a corner in his career, and while he was still scoring on a regular basis for Lazio, he was performing poorly for Italy. Perhaps the national embarrassment that accompanied the Azzurri’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup had dented his Azzurri confidence.

Possibly as a result of this, Immobile only made four appearances in Italy’s successful Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, despite clearly being one of the best strikers on the peninsula. He did score three goals in those four games, though these came against Finland and Armenia, so hardly anything to write home about.

The 10-month gap between international fixtures, alongside Immobile’s newfound status as Europe’s most prolific striker, represents a fresh start. A chance to prove himself as the man to lead the Azzurri’s front line going into next summer’s Euros, a competition which they’ll be keen to do well in considering their woes in international competition over the past decade.

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Have your say...
Point proven. Belotti useless but midfield is just awful. To be honest I'd prefer that he doesn't waste King Ciro in nothing games like this.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 10:21pm
To @Mak E Pizza, tell me how many goals Immobile scored versus a depleted/coached by a novice Bosnia & Herzegovina? I'll tell you: BIG FAT ZERO! Immobile, Belotti, and Insigne, as I mentioned, are the worst overrated and overhyped ding-dongs from the Italian peninsula. We have no FBs (Florenzi - REALLY???) and no creative input in the midfield, and duds in attack. No wonder we won't be going anywhere close to victory in Euros anytime soon, let alone the World Cup.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 10:18pm
In Lazio,the team work for immobile,in italy national team,no midfielder has skill like luis aberto/savic
on the 4th September, 2020 at 7:04pm
immobile has made himself into a top player he stands as a example of what hard work and application along with tenacity can achieve. on the flip side it was a lack of comparable natural ability to other players which makes him limited in some ways.

it has been a disaster italy up front over the last 10 years g rossi always injured, balotelli a child in a mans body, cassano a baby in a mans body, quagliarealla stalked into failure, giovinco never finding his home.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 6:40pm
Looking at the predicted line ups and Italy's defence is awful. Bonnuci is done now, Chiellini should retire from internationals and the full backs offer absolutely nothing. It's a shame Bastoni has had to leave the squad but surely Romagnogli should be playing. I really hope Luca Pellegrini performs well at Juve this season because currently both full back positions are lacking in any sort of quality
on the 4th September, 2020 at 4:55pm
I'm for losing the 4-3-3 just to take Insigne off the field.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 4:32pm
Hope ITALY can solve this strikers problem it's not just IMMOBILE there are examples in the past like TOTTI DEL PIERO LUCA TONI SIGNORI etc in UEFA and FIFA tournaments they don't sometimes score the goals. Italy need to hope these strikers score for fun in tournaments soon.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 3:54pm
Joke that Belotti is preferred to Immobile, what else does he need to do, score 100 goals a season? There is poor service to the strikers for the Azzurri, no one who can cut open defences like Luis Alberto or Milinkovic. Easy to blame strikers but midfield is where games are won and lost.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 2:07pm
Belotti hasn't failed - injury hindered him he's still young enough.

Immobile on stats & in theory should be a world class striker but he isn't.

Pellegri, Esposito, (Kean if he leaves everton and restarts) our are only prospects from youth level, unless someone else comes up.

Zaniolo has a higher ceiling as high as any of our forwards from the past 25 years, bar R. Baggio - we can judge Zaniolo when his career is over, one Ballon D'or or coming close would be enough to prove that. Lets see...
on the 4th September, 2020 at 1:52pm
Haha, very funny, Immobile gets slated by a likely roma fan who names Delvecchio as being better! Did he even score 36 goals in a decade? Fair enough he usually scored against Lazio but we still won more than roma. Italy's strikers aren't just suffering because of their performances, the midfield creativity and supply for the forwards is terrible. The whole generation of players is just not quite as good as those of 10-15 years ago.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 1:51pm

I agree our forwards are not like they were in the past, however, Insigne, Immobile, Belotti, etc are decent players and will do damage given the right service and I'm confident that the crop of promising midfielders and full backs coming through the ranks can provide that. Bernadeschi is a waste of space, I'm baffled why managers love him so much, ok he puts a shift in but he offers nothing in assists or goals (this is a Juve fan talking too).
on the 4th September, 2020 at 1:45pm
The National team must deliver, not just Immobile! Preferably with a versatile squad that relies on the collective instead of one individual.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 12:22pm
The very fact that there's no one better than a pathetic, overrated trio of Insigne, Belotti, and (the worst of them all) Immobile tells you just how bereft of talent this Italian squad is.

At one point, Squadra Azzurra had Del Piero, Francesco Totti, Roberto Baggio, Christian Vieri, Luca Toni as 1st choice, and Vincenzo Montella, Marco Delvecchio as backups tells the whole story.

Hopefully the generation coming in after Kean, Zaniolo, and Bernardeschi will be able to perform well...
on the 4th September, 2020 at 9:04am
I'm really counting on him. Italy's success in the upcoming tournaments depends on him and it's high time he delivers.

Shame that Belotti failed (I blame him being stuck at Torino) he never took the next step in his career.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 5:18am

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