Saturday October 17 2020
Italy's goal conundrum continues

Italy were held to a 1-1 stalemate by the Netherlands and Giancarlo Rinaldi points out the Azzurri are still looking for that somebody to turn control into goals.

There is a curious kind of torture that football sometimes reserves for coaches who once played the game at the highest level. The sport can cruelly provide them with a squad of players which is crying out for the qualities their boss boasted back when they were still lacing up their boots. And how Roberto Mancini would love to give his Azzurri a little dose of one of his greatest gifts - composure.

Over three games in October, we got another illustration of the progress Italy have made under his management in terms of going out and imposing themselves on an opponent. In the key games with Poland and, to a lesser extent, against the Netherlands, they showed they were willing to take the initiative and try to grab a game by the throat. Unfortunately, when the chances came their way, they only had the coolness to convert a single one - and that was through midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Let’s start, though, with the positive vibes that came across this trio of ties. We started off with a lovely little appetiser against Moldova. The run out for Italy’s second string delivered a feast of goals the likes of which the Azzurri rarely deliver. Among the highlights was a debut strike for Ciccio Caputo and the confirmation of a powerful squad to call on. It was pleasing, too, to see Stephan El Shaarawy perform so well on his return to the fold.

What that clash gave us was confirmation of the refreshing approach being demanded of this side. Even at 5-0 up, they were being told to drive forward in search of more goals and keep the pressure on the opposition. That attitude, in itself, is quite a transformation from the old rule of minimo sforzo - minimum effort - which used to govern such affairs.

The next course, it would only be fair to say, was a little less tasty. A stronger starting XI failed to break down Poland in a game which could have put them on track to top their Nations League group with ease. On the plus side was the way the defence handled one of the world’s best strikers in Robert Lewandowski and, on the whole, looked solid. But they were just too frantic for much of the match and when chances came their way they spurned them in alarming fashion - most notably through Federico Chiesa. Even the ever impeccable Mancio looked like he might pull out a clump of his classic coiffure in despair.

That set up the main dish in Bergamo - a mouthwatering match-up with Frank de Boer’s side - as the key encounter of the trio. Having beaten the Oranje in the away leg, there was cause for optimism and, after taking the lead through the aforementioned Pellegrini goal, they should have gone from strength to strength. Instead, they conceded quite quickly and seemed to lose a little of the assurance they had built up in previous outings. That a balanced affair ended in a draw seemed a pretty fair outcome.

It confirmed, once again, what a star Nicolò Barella has become for this team. His busy, buzzing attitude and ability with the ball at his feet have become central to all the good things this team can do. If the Inter man continues this development, he will be at the heart of the national side for years to come.

Defensively, it felt that conceding one goal across three games confirmed the strong platform being built at the back. Gigio Donnarumma can count on a sturdy shield in front of him no matter who is selected to play. It will no doubt face sterner tests if we ever get back to proper tournament football, but the signs are good.

In the centre of the pitch, too, it feels like the options are quite impressive. Pellegrini has joined Barella in becoming a major contributor while Jorginho - although a bit out of sorts in these games - and Marco Verratti remain integral parts of Italy’s operations. There are plenty of valid alternatives in the heart of the side, too.

It is up front, though, that the alarm bells continue to ring a little with nobody consistently turning control of a game into goals. Caputo did well against Moldova but it remains to be seen if he can click in bigger matches. Andrea Belotti was clearly picked for his endeavour against Poland but he failed to find the net. And Ciro Immobile, despite a Golden Shoe on the mantelpiece, remains something of an enigma for his country. It is impossible to argue with his club record but 10 goals in more than 40 appearances for the Azzurri is not a return worthy of his abilities. It might just be a question of needing something to click, but we have been waiting a while for that now.

Despite the frustration of back-to-back draws in their group games, Italy can still get to the top of their table. However, it has made the clash with Poland a key one in their pursuit of first place. That game is likely to be another intense affair where taking chances will be vital to making progress. His forwards could do worse than watch old videos of how Bobby Mancini used to take chances back in his Sampdoria days.

Have your say...
ive read alot of intelligent inciteful comments here and i am encouraged by that ... everybody take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the beautiful game that italy is now playing . dont hit the panic button over a few ties !!!! mancini has delivered in quick fashion. we will find the goals and we will win the EUROS !!!! VIVA ITALIA !!!! FORZZA AZZURRI !!!!
on the 5th November, 2020 at 5:54am
For a start it was a semi final not a final, in the final he vanished along with the other half of Italy. At 19-23 he was doing the same stupidity he has been doing all the way though his career. To call him the best around tells me you are as deluded as Lukas!

I Will not deny the quality Balotelli in the Germany game 2 important and exceptional goals but before and after that NOTHING!
A player cannot be give a free ticket to a national team based on one game almost 10 years ago.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 2:40pm
@Jez, Balo is done - we should all agree on that... but between 19-23 he was one of the best talents on the continent.. the world... He and only he is to blame for this decline... But I have the 2012 Final etched in my memory forever! He was a beast.
on the 18th October, 2020 at 12:05pm
I am on a football italia wedsite writing about Azzurri failures n you want to conpare Balotelli to me!
I have been lucky enough to witness 2 world cup wins for Italy in my life time.
Unfortunately my footballing career was not graced with the luck of the "stars of today" there was alot more talent and alot less opportunity in 90's; Balotelli, immobile, insigne and the endless list of average players of today in the 90's would not have even made Serie B let alone la Nazionale.
on the 17th October, 2020 at 4:17pm
@Jez - I don’t think Balotelli is currently good enough to play for Italia or ever will be. His Italy career is in the past. But I don’t get the ‘total failure’. I mean what have you done in football that compares to what he has achieved? What is your contribution that compared to his means he is a ‘total failure’?
on the 17th October, 2020 at 7:32am
@ Paolo uh no Immobile has 1 goal per every 10+ games for sorry but thats a poor stat,specially for the top goal scorer all of europe ! that does nothing for team. 10 games is like an entire qualifying campaign and more than an entire tournament from group stage to final.he simply isnt living up to his/the standard for national team.
but i guess thats the irony...who else do we have far as clutch best strikers/all out attacking goal scorers ?
really wish G.Rossi never got so injured.
on the 16th October, 2020 at 5:11pm
@Milan Fan

Wow, my mistake. Barella it was. Maybe I was the one visited by the zombies. Fantastic pass that was.
on the 16th October, 2020 at 4:39am
What is this fascination with KEAN he is clumsy and no skill whatsoever, chiesa is another stumbling cannot finish player. THEY NEED TO CHANGE SERIE A RULES TO MAJORITY ITALIAN PLAYERS VS FOREIGN PLAYERS. WE HAVE THE MOST TALENTED SYSTEM YET U SEE IT IN OUR EUROPEAN COMPETITIONS FAILURES YEAR AFTER YEAR. U have the lower teams introducing the new crop. We r paying for this greed now and if not corrected will pay for it for years to come.
on the 16th October, 2020 at 2:02am
Agree with comments Chiesa needs to fight. He also needs to try fighting to stay on his feet. It's embarrassing. The Immobile experiment should be shelved. Go with the hot foot – Caputo should have gotten a run out. I don't care about his pedigree. We need goals. Spinazzola look excellent again. I wish Kean had started, out wide instead of Chiesa or up front for Immobile. We have plenty of wide players – Berardi and Politano to name a couple on the right. We need hunger, and fight, not ego.
on the 16th October, 2020 at 12:02am
...he keeps getting loaned out and becoming less of star player.
Chiesa the future ? yes, but still alot of hype imo.
give Beradi more chances and starts !
Balotelli ? he's done. even he knows that.
the mid looks good, but they better start updating and reinforcing the back 4line for the future asap.
lets hope Azzurri can get back to top level of 90s and early 2000s...same for Holland too, great football nation thats in same boat as us.

+Balotelli should come to MLS if still has desire to play
on the 15th October, 2020 at 11:53pm
well lets talk bullets...Ciro, i always liked BUT im 98.9% sure now he's useless. how can a golden boot winner NEVER score for country ? yet R.Lewd' scores a hat-trick and Poland is now top of group ? basically this Italy is miles away from the mess that failed 2 years ago but dropped crucial points again. we cant keep playing teams like Moldova. does more harm than good.
Insigne ? even more useless, never call up again or use as a wing back like Florenzi.
Kean ? something not right about him.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 11:37pm
it is amazing that immobile can almost average a goal a game for lazio but has a ratio for 1 goal in 4 games for italy. what is more amazing is the lack of a credible alternative belotti and caputo are average players. there are some seriously talented Italian youngsters however they are no where near ready to fill the void.

the goals are going to have to come from midfield until immobile discovers his lazio from for the national team.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 9:22pm
Sorry you're right he won all that stuff single handed. He was the sole reason those clubs won those trophies without him they wouldn't have won a thing. It was his goals all the way. For Azzurri his 1 quality goal against Germany means he should be in our squad until he retires regardless of the fact he couldn't start a game for Brescia and now doesn't have a club.
Sorry lukas I will stand by your side as you fight to have the Hero installed in our lives again so we can dream once more
on the 15th October, 2020 at 9:15pm
Italy needs to hand over the reigns to Berardi as he has matured the past year and is very dangerous up front. Chiesa should be coming on off the bench with his pace as he would trouble defenders big time. Immobile needs more direct and better service. With the pandemic it is obvious that players are concerned both on and off the field, so this hurts all teams really. Italy has grown by leaps and bounds and the best is yet to come. They need to start Spinna and Lazzari at full back moving ahead
on the 15th October, 2020 at 8:27pm
@Jez - ur calling Balotelli a ‘total failure’. Er, he’s won the PL, Serie A, CL, and other bits and pieces. He knocked Ingurland out of the WC and Germany out of the Euros, he’s a household name, immensely rich . . . . . . That doesn’t really make him a ‘total failure’ does it? . I mean compared to you . . . . . . What have you won?
on the 15th October, 2020 at 6:27pm
Zanioli for Striker. (Whe he returns)

Here me out, we @ Chiesa di Totti have noticed how strong Zaniolo is and is very prolific in the box. We don't know how Roma can't see it as he's an amazing Attacking midfielder and would be an amazing replacement for Dzeko when he's gone.

If given the chance, I think he would blow us all away...honestly! Just watch some of his goals and work he does in the box on YT vids, it's astounding.

It's staring everyone in the face except Roma & the National Team!
on the 15th October, 2020 at 5:03pm

What Ciro assist are you talking about?! If you mean the goal, Barella provided that fantastic assist.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 4:58pm
Holland has a very good team Italy did well under the circumstances, up front Italy is lacking, what troubles me was the Juve purchase of Chiesa as he seemed very regular on the pitch for upwards of a 50 million Juve purchase! I think Juventus really tries to contribute to the italian foundation of players for the national team
but has grossly over payed for players like Bernadeschi and Chiesa I hope he proves me wrong but judging his last performances with Fiorentina Im not sure
on the 15th October, 2020 at 3:49pm
Was everyone attacked by brain-sucking zombies yesterday? Italy had the 2nd most goals in group stage of qualifiers. Ciro didn't score vs Netherlands but he provided a world class assist to Pellegrini. He then created his own chance by pressing hard and pushing one of the Netherlands defenders off the ball, but missed the opening between the keeper's legs. It's not like he was fed a great pass and bottled it.

The team has not lost in approx 2 years. Promising achievement compared to recent.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 3:39pm
Ooo my god you were doing so so so well then you go and drop the Balotelli bomb and lose all credibility/respect and everything. Balotelli is best left as far away from this team as is humanly possible. The guy is a total failure. Please never speak of him again!
A good player doesn't need to find a team!!! Honestly i beg of you don't say his name again!
on the 15th October, 2020 at 3:02pm
Too much criticism. This is an Italy side that is bouncing back from the disaster era of Ventura. It's a really good side that plays good football and tries to play to it's advantages. I was never a fan of Mancini but he has done a fantastic job with the cards that he's been dealt. Holland was the finalist last time out and is very good team full of talent.

Yes there is a problem in attack but it is what it is, unfortunately Immobile is the best we have at the moment. I'm looking forward.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 3:00pm
Also... Moise Kean... he doesn't start for club, infact i don't even think he has played so how or more to the point WHY is he even in the pool of players being picked month after month! I mean i am not even questioning his talent as i haven't seen any coz he does not play! Reform Serie A and these problems will be resolved in the years that follow o5herwise we are simply paying a manager to sit there and make ridiculous excuses
on the 15th October, 2020 at 2:58pm
Can we put Caputo up front for good and never have this conversation until he retires? The couple of minutes of "Sassuolo takeover" of the Azzuri were fairly promising! It's just not working with Immobile.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 2:49pm
There's no other option, even Caputo would be 34 by the Euros. It has to be Immobile Belotti and Kean as forwards, as there's noone else good enough for now. We should be patient with them, even Paolo Rossi had a bad group stage at 82, and then he burst into life from 2nd round to knockouts.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 2:35pm
Yes, this was a good performance, and even after Holland organized well to limit Jorginho and Verratti possession. The score should have been 2-1 or 3-2, as Holland also had chances, and Donnarumma made a great save.

Immobile needs an extended run and hopefully then he will start scoring, the forwards only played 1 match each. Belotti played against Poland but he doesn't have as good movement as Immobile, atleast Immobile got into great positions.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 2:32pm
At this point it's much better to stick with the Sassuolo core. Start playing Berardi and Caputo ffs. Chiesa doesn't have a great scoring record and he shouldn't be relied on to score especially with Immobile on the pitch. Insigne also provides the best creativity up front, no one even comes close.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 1:44pm
We should celebrate this Italy for the way they have finally embraced modern football and are exciting in their execution. Yes we lack strikers that we have had in the past, but in tournament play it just might click for the likes of Belotti and Immobile. There's a lot of talent in this group and it would be great if these players could play in CL teams, as it's those types of games that will develop the players "killer instinct" which is evidently what is missing at the moment.
on the 15th October, 2020 at 12:13pm
Mancini is also comical "holland changed tactics" I'm sorry has anyone ever seen a team lose and the manager decide to stick with a failing tactic? I wish these people just wouldn't speak at all before or after a game.
Immobile is absolutely terrible at best. This man should be nowhere near this team. This man is only in this team because there are no players to choose from. If i were Mancini i would look at lower league teams for 4-5 strikers that 1. Move. 2. Score. 3. Give 100%
on the 15th October, 2020 at 11:40am
Has made his money on idiotic press coverage
And Three good games in Euro 2012
Rubbish at Liverpool
Rubbish at Milan
Rubbish in France
Rubbish at Brescia
I cannot understand how anyone rates him
on the 15th October, 2020 at 11:40am
@ Juvefan
Utter nonsense
With respect you said two ridiculous comments
One.... moaning about Locatelli , listen he is excellent
Wonderful player Pirlo was slow l
Locatelli is great
But... you mentioned Balotelli.
Please do not mention that waste of space as he is awful
on the 15th October, 2020 at 11:38am

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