The Azzurri pulled off the perfect performance, at least that was the headline in the Corriere Dello Sport. The praise was worthy of the performance, as Italy strolled past Poland in Reggio Emilia. The home side had several players pull out due to COVID or injury but they still performed admirably and stuck to the principles that have seen them improve incredibly under Roberto Mancini. One of the highlights of the national team in recent months is that the ‘mister’ is getting a tune out of all of his players, even if they are not performing for their clubs.
Roberto Mancini could not be at the game himself as he was self-isolating but his deputy, Alberico Evani, praised his teams display. He said that, in these difficult times his team came together and played like veterans. This was another convincing performance that saw the home side gain a key three points and continue their 21-game unbeaten run. The side look well drilled and what is more they are entertaining, they now sit proudly on top of the group and can confidently take on Bosnia Herzegovina on Wednesday.
It is easy to look at a player like Nicolo Barella and rightly wax lyrical about his performance. He is after all, playing well for Inter and is bringing the same aggression, skill and dynamism to the national squad. His range of passing and link up play did nothing but aid his cause of being a first choice man in the center of the midfield for a long time to come. Mancini and Evani have created an environment where a young player like Barella can come in and immediately know what his job is, it has not been over complicated and there is certainly the feel that these players are not scared of taking risks.
This calm environment and pride in the shirt has also allowed players who are not in the best of form to find themselves again. This is particularly noticeable in Chelsea’s Emerson Palmieri or Federico Bernardeschi whose form for Juventus as not been anywhere near what it should be but for the Azzurri he is excelling. Those who follow the ‘Old Lady’ or Serie A in general would not have noticed him of late. His man of the match performance was a memorable one, as he looked lethal in the early parts of this game. It was his run that won the penalty and the Polish defenders simply could not handle him. His determination to run at defenders and his confidence to shoot was refreshing and if he can transform this back into his club form then Juventus will feel like they have signed another player.
Another man who performed well when he came on was Domenico Berardi. The man who so often is accused of dipping in and out of form admittedly is playing well for Sassuolo this campaign and he produced a moment of magic as he made his presence felt as soon as he came on. His goal was one that could start to become his trademark as he cut in on his left foot and struck it well past the goalkeeper.
The renaissance under Mancini continues. He has dragged Italy out of the dark and taken them on a journey bringing back pride and conviction to a very talented group of players. His system may not be ground breaking but it is easy for the players to understand his 4-3-3, they have been given licence to attack and his team all seem to be well drilled and understand what is needed of them.
Poland are the latest team to fall against Italy and the young and hungry team has given fans of the national team reason to dream again. This re-birth after the tragic ‘Ventura era’ is gathering pace and the praise must go down to Mancini and Evani as they have the balance exactly right. The age of the players who are being blooded also highlights the strength in depth Italy have and the fact that they are united, talented and playing with conviction really does highlight Evani’s point. They are playing like veterans, they are playing like winners. It seems a lifetime since the shameful elimination against Sweden three years ago.