Tuesday September 8 2020
Mancini: 'Not easy to dominate in Holland'

Roberto Mancini points out ‘it’s not easy to dominate the Netherlands on their home turf’ after Italy’s 1-0 Nations League victory.

Nicolò Barella’s header on a Ciro Immobile cross made the difference in Amsterdam, but all the statistics went in their favour too.

The Azzurri had 57 per cent possession, completed 528 passes to 339, and recovered 44 balls to 36.

“The whole team played well, because it’s not easy to dominate the Netherlands on their home turf. We could also have won by a bigger margin,” said the coach in his press conference.

“Naturally, in the last few minutes we felt tired and they kept putting long balls forward, with Virgil van Dijk a defender going upfront. Overall, Gigio Donnarumma only made one real save in the 90 minutes.”

Leonardo Spinazzola was given more freedom to push forward down the left flank, whereas Danilo D’Ambrosio stayed deeper.

“Spinazzola is a great player with technique, quality, physicality, he attacks the spaces and it’s not easy to surprise him when defending either. If he didn’t have so many injuries, he’d be even better.”

Once again, the Azzurri created and wasted many chances, so while they were held 1-1 by Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday, they managed to get the victory this time.

“It’s true, it looked a bit like the Poland game last year when we dominated and risked only drawing it, but we held out well.

“We also played well against Bosnia, because it was our first after 10 months against a side that just sat back and defended. We dominated the game in Holland, kept the ball more, had more passes, so we just should’ve finished more of our chances.”

Manuel Locatelli made his senior Italy debut and the 22-year-old Sassuolo midfielder was very impressive.

“Locatelli had a great game, especially for a debut, and we only took him off in the final 10 minutes because he felt tired.”

It wasn’t a debut, but a comeback for Giorgio Chiellini, his first Italy match in a year since his ACL tear.

“Giorgio has the experience and quality to put him ahead of most defenders in the world. He’s a fighter on the pitch and always puts in the strong performances.

“I am very happy he has returned and played without problems.”

There was one blight on the match, as Nicolò Zaniolo limped off with a knee sprain in the first half, with fears he has damaged the other ACL just eight months after an injury in his right knee.

“He was very worried at the time, but I have to say after a while he seemed much calmer. It didn’t hurt that much, so hopefully it’s not as bad as it was last time.”

Zaniolo was seen walking to the team bus without crutches, so there are positive sensations ahead of the tests.