Friday September 4 2020
Listless Azzurri disappoint with Bosnia

It was typical September fare for Italy, so Giancarlo Rinaldi hopes for something more appetising in future than this drab draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Anyone who has watched an Azzurri season opener would tell you to keep your Prosecco on ice. Even in a normal year, the boys in blue tend to make their first September outing about as appetising as overcooked spaghetti. Their clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina in Florence was more limp and listless than even that implies.

It felt like a bit of a rabbit punch after all the good things we had seen - if you can still remember them - in the days before lockdown. Having been down on their luck, Club Italia had risen up to play some decent football and produce some good results. There was precious little to get excited about, however, in this Friday night fare.

In fairness, the starting XI was probably nobody’s idea of Roberto Mancini’s best. With the Jorginho-Marco Verratti axis missing, the red-white-and-green tiki-taka was left bereft of two of its main protagonists. What was dished up in their absence would have left you feeling cheated even if the government was paying half the bill.

What attacking play there was tended to come through Lorenzo Insigne, but he was well enough marshalled to make his influence minimal. Federico Chiesa made little impact in his home ground and Andrea Belotti received precious little service. Even Mr Goals - Ciro Immobile - struggled to do much to affect the outcome in his handful of minutes. If the night had a colour, it was probably beige.

There was an air of good fortune about both the goals - more so the Italian one. Edin Dzeko, of course, bit the hand that pays his wages with a nice finish after some confused action in the Azzurri penalty box. Only a kindly deflection, however, allowed Stefano Sensi - busy but not brilliant - to equalise.

It would be easy to jump to conclusions - many no doubt will - but Mancio has probably earned this false step. In a group containing the Netherlands and Poland, a home draw looks like compromising any chances of a Nations League group victory already. Surely, though, we will really judge him on proper qualification campaigns to come.

Although this competition was set up to avoid the meaningless friendly, this still had the feeling of one. Maybe it was the missing crowd - the bread at the table, as Leo Bonucci called them - that added to that sensation. Even the players on the sidelines, sharing a joke late in the first half, seemed to confirm the impression that this was not quite a match that really mattered. Judge us on more important games, was the message that appeared to be emanating from the stands.

There were alarm bells here, for sure, and they were the same old ones we have spoken of many times before. Against stubborn opponents with some skillful individuals, Italy have often struggled to break a side down and this was undoubtedly the case again. Imagination - for most of this encounter - was not on the menu.

But let’s hold fire on shooting down this Azzurri offering just yet. A lot of time has passed - an eternity in modern terms - but it is surely too soon to throw away all the progress they had made before our world was turned upside down by coronavirus. They deserve to be judged on future encounters rather than one misfiring outing which put their undefeated record at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in serious doubt.

Nowadays many tend to lurch from magnificent to miserable in the space of a couple of tweets but those of us who are longer in the tooth can take a wider view. The curtain rose on a pretty dull and desperate performance, but that is truly nothing new. Italy tend to reserve their better displays for when the opposition is more highly regarded. If they are as drab and disappointing in future group games, then there will be genuine cause for concern. But, for now, let’s blame it on September and hope for finer football to come.

Have your say...
So much stupidity and ignorance in this comment section. Y'all are way too quick to judge the team and players. Have you even been following Italy before the lockdown? This is a great young squad that will continue to improve. I am highly motivated and happy that Mancino has saved the national team.
on the 8th September, 2020 at 8:36am
You folks feel stupid now for overreacting to the Bosnia game?

In my humble opinion, Italy is back... and has played great ever since Ventura left.
on the 7th September, 2020 at 11:06pm
Bonucci needs to go return to 3 5 2 conte formation we have the midfield and defense get petagna caputo or others in there. Insigne is a playmaker and very good he needs to serve the aggressive striker that can meet him half way. The team is there just needs fine tuning with back ups also being the right choices.
on the 7th September, 2020 at 4:45pm
on the 7th September, 2020 at 4:42pm
We are always bad in September games - this is nothing new for a number if reasons. I personally dont care less about the nations league - as long as we win a few games so world cup draw is ok thats all i am bothered about. Use these games to experiment and have a closer look at different players. Give Caputo some game time tonight he deserves it - he could do a job for us at the euros - his age is against him but he could do a job in the next couple of years. Hoping for a good result tonight.
on the 7th September, 2020 at 12:17pm
We missed jorginho and Verratti badly in midfield against bosnia. Its a shame Romagnoli and Bastoni are both injured, they need to be playing games now. Chiellini doesnt have much time left with the national team and bonucci isnt great. Also Lazzari should be in the squad as should Emerson. Get rid of florenzi please. Farioni deserves a chance also. We are in my view a long way short of been a contender in euro 2021, although we all no in tournaments we cant be ruled out.
on the 7th September, 2020 at 12:11pm
did you play in U21 final? lift your players to beat an unbeaten team on the level of liverpool? Insigne is of great use - the team just needs to restart after an involuntary shutdown. an unimaginative, weak-minded complainer makes comments like yours. for me, in Mancini we trust
on the 6th September, 2020 at 6:30pm
Insigne is often criticized. I think what people need on this site is to understand that Insigne is the best we have. Which really does highlight the state italian football is in.
In the world of football the reality is Insigne is average at best. If we face this reality you see that the result was expected. Anyone expecting anything more either doesn't understand football or has not watched the decline of Italian football since 2006.
on the 6th September, 2020 at 2:56pm
Frustrating match but not the end of the world. Hopefully will improve against the Dutch.
As if people on this site see this as an opportunity to criticize Insigne, who was our best player on the night. Some things never change.
Chiesa with a shocker, never using his deadliest weapons of pace and dribbling.
Di Lorenzo should start.
Disappointed Mancini hasn't managed to integrate some younger talent in at CB. Romagnoli's injury unfortunate because he's exactly what the backline needs right now
on the 5th September, 2020 at 4:06pm
At this stage of the Mancini takeover, I'd just put Caputo on the starting eleven and hope for the best.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 4:00pm
If you look at the great Azzurri teams of the past they had a great spine..1994 Pagluica, baresi, conte/albertini, Signori/Baggio..2006..Buffon, canna/matrix, pirlo/gattuso, Toni/totti..2020..Donna, Bonnucci/Acerbi, Barella/Sensi, Chiesa/Belotti??? GK and Midfield are good. Prospect of Bastoni/Ram/Mancini/pellegrini but we lack a striker..Immobile is average at best 40% of his goals were pens last season.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 12:44pm
'Felt very Ventura tonight' — yes, my thoughts exactly. I forgot to add that...
on the 5th September, 2020 at 10:25am
Playing with no intensity will never break down two banks of five who are well marshalled. The two most frustrating players on the pitch were Sensi and Bonucci. Despite playing Sensi in Pirlo's position, he is no Pirlo. What was his pass completion rate, 10%? 20%? And Bonucci played with such arrogance throughout while giving away silly foul after silly foul. Frustrating! Giancarlo, you are too kind!
on the 5th September, 2020 at 10:23am
Watched the game yesterday and when you have forwards who play for Torino and Fiorentina (Belotti and Chiesa) what chance have you got to score. Completely anonymous donkeys. Immobile has to be the main man just on current form. Kean cannot even get into the Everton side, why was he picked? I would rather have Petagna! Florenzi useless too. Midfield looks good but Jorghino is a must to play. I couldn't believe how bad Acerbi was too! Only bright sparks were Insigne, Barella and Zaniolo for me.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 9:57am
I know there is the "First game" rust as Gigio said, but looking at the stats there's nothing much that says it's going to be different in the game against the Dutch. Sure, it should be a more open encounter because neither team will just sit back but at the same time this means Italy won't be able to have that sterile, comfortable possession they seem to be accumstomed to in the last game. Hopefully that will be the kick up the backside they need.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 8:51am
It had an air of a friendly. But it was a bit limp even by those standards tbf. Bosnia defended well + the goal did wake Italy up a bit, but the right side was almost nonexistent until Zaniolo + Kean came on. You can see quality in those 2, Sensi too + he doesn't seem as lightweight as some either. Di Lorenzo is a good shout + I like the midfield, the players coming up are the best Italy have had for a while but it's still only potential. Barella's exploits in Europe have helped him to progress.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 8:47am
Bastoni and Romagnoli need to start on defense. Bonucci is too slow for modern game and past his best already. Florenzi hasn't been good for a year. Biraghi is okay but he needs to be set free to roam forward, which is why Chiesa is the better option than Insigne who doesn't track back. Chiesa can cut inside while Biraghi can utilize his deadly crosses instead of being held back by Insigne. Midfield looks good but we definitely need all of Sensi, Verratti, and Barella health.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 8:38am
Italy have always been bad during September matches so let's not overreact too much. That being said the team certainly need something fresh. Chiesa has always been ineffective on the right, either play him or Insigne but not both. It's too bad that Berardi was injured but it's long overdue for him to get a chance. Either him or Zaniolo would partner well with Belotti since they like to play to drift to the center and play off with a target man. Faraoni or Lazzari are necessary to give width.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 8:33am
I'll just say this. The attack and full backs are a disaster. Belotti and Immobile will not win you a major tournament, and why a player like Lazzari was left out is incredible. Bonucci, Florenzi, Biraghi, Immobile, and Belotti need to be banished from this team. This is what happens when Juventus and Milan don't have a strong Italian contingent to add to the Nazionale.
on the 5th September, 2020 at 5:09am your posting.

I agree with most of your points

Drop Bonucci and Cheillini...Way passed there prims

Your Midfield looks really good!!!

Maybe include (due to Fitness) Emerson and Conti....

THis issues are with the forwards...No world class forwards. This is the part were Mancini may need to experiment. Besides that, i thinks its slowly coming together...Just my thoughts
on the 4th September, 2020 at 11:52pm
Felt very Ventura tonight.

It's 2020 when fit would like to see Romagnoli Bastoni CB pairing with fresh impetus.

Di Lorenzo RB or why not convert Bernadeschi to RB - it could be a Zambrotta move, and give Luca Pellegrini a chance at LB.

Verratti, Barella with Tonali or Jorginho midfield is set

Zaniolo Chiesa wings - plus X as CF

Immobile for Italy is average as is Insigne (neither are WC). Belotti isn't consistent.

Lets hope for Esposito / Pellegri / Kean or another CF to come good.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 11:18pm
Might as well start with 9 men on the pitch, Belotti/Immobile, Pellegrini and Chiesa are virtually ghosts.
on the 4th September, 2020 at 10:37pm

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