BLOG ITALIA
Monday November 16 2020
Italy united by principles and individuals

It seems a lifetime since Italy were eliminated by Sweden three years ago and Richard Hall points out the Azzurri’s transformation is also helping those players who are underperforming with their clubs.

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.

@RichHall80

Have your say...
I love this Italy side, full of hunger and enthusiasm, makes me proud of La Nazionale again. These lads have taken advantage of this platform to advertise their talents as they often they are not used by their clubs. I hope other European sides take note and offer them such opportunities, as Italian clubs (although getting better) do not look to youth. These boys are worthy of a CL or UEFA Cup side; this is key because by playing at the highest level can only enhance their development further.
on the 19th November, 2020 at 9:37am
@anonymous

firstly 2002 England went out to a brazil side which were simply amazing the quality they had was unreal there was no shame in losing 2-1.

secondly England failure isn't tactical maybe now it is a lack of options. But there is a distinct lack of unity and belief and fear of criticism plus there seems to be no joy either. This side even with great players puts in mediocre performances for england.

the one saving grace for italy is that the players looked like they cared.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 9:45pm
@ Forza Napoli:

My mother is Neapolitan. I love Napoli. I have lots of family there.. But I am sorry, Insigne is often a disappointment for Italy... yes, some games he looks good, others not so. good.. even at Napoli he has been inconsistent over the years.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 6:33pm
@RG

I admire your optimism but to suggest a prime Pique/Puyol/Ramos/Alba are inferior to the likes of Emerson, Florenzi, Spinazzola or an ageing Bonucci/Chiellini is a bit of a stretch but this Italy team are certainly going in the right direction. Lets hope for another entertaining and commanding victory this evening and then a good showing at the Nations League and Euros. Are both tournaments being played next summer?
on the 18th November, 2020 at 4:20pm
@Luciano S. I completely agree with your thoughts on Italy struggling against the better teams in the middle of the park. In the second half against Holland on the 14th Oct we were outgunned in the midfield and they were the better team that half. Against Spain or France it could be even worse so we need a plan B for the big guns or we'll come up short. I just hope Mancini is aware of this and has a plan b.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 2:57pm
I'm all for attacking football but I think we seriously need to re-think the trident attack for the big guns. We'll be completely outgunned and battered by a country like Spain in the middle of park if we go 4-3-3. For that to work you need a front three that are a constant and continual threat, a la Liverpool at club level. I'm not sure we have that in our armoury.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 1:30pm
@ Anonymous

Funny, I thought the article was about Italian national team, and I also thought I was talking about world cup CHAMPIONS....

Yes, 1934 team was nearly all Juventus players. 1938 also had a few notables, but are you really saying that Rossi was the only Juve player on the 1982 team?

Zoff, Cabrini, Gentile, Scirea, Tardelli, all starters by the way... This game is not only made up of strikers.

Can we also say that the 2006 Championship team had no fewer than 8 Juventus players?
on the 18th November, 2020 at 1:18pm
As an inter and Italy fan who worries about strikers for the future, can say that inter has a few promising options that we hope will develop for club and country. Pinamonti is still growing but deserves a chance, has killed it at youth level. Esposito is a gun for his age and we hope we continue to develop. Eddy Salceido was rated an equal to pellegri in their youth days together and also possesses a huge amount of talent. Hopefully one or more of these can lead Italy frontline
on the 18th November, 2020 at 12:33pm
It was a golden generation for England. The problem was the coaches and their strict adherence to 4442, which saw Scholes playing on the left, Carrick ignored and two cm's in Gerrard and Lampard that both liked to bomb forward, leaving the engine exposed and easy to dominate. 433 with Carrick or Scholes as the regista would have been far more effective.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 12:33pm
Everyone is focusing on striker position, but it's our entire front 3 that are continually wasting the openings and goal scoring opportunities (in competitive games. Belotti does a fine job with his movement and workrate in keeping opposing CB's busy, dragging them out of position. That said, he desperately needs to move to a bigger club in order to take his game to the next level.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 12:28pm
Well observed LucaC, great contextualization, but i'd wager that with the exception of iniesta our mid is already a match for the all-conquering spanish team with even better central defenders and fullbacks.
insigne to equal iniesta? politano [a stretch]...sensi [stay fit and you're world class]?
hey concerned reader - drain the ink from your pen so we are no longer visited by your penetrating 'advise' [sic]
on the 18th November, 2020 at 12:15pm
Berardi in.. that's good... where's Spinner? Injured?
on the 18th November, 2020 at 11:11am
Also just in case Italy didn't have enough talent in the central midfield area it looks they might've found another gem in Pobega. It's getting like the great Spain team that had Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, Busquets, and Fabregas . Obviously they're not at those kind of levels yet but the depth is amazing
on the 18th November, 2020 at 10:26am
Yeah i'm not convinced at all by Kean, his touch and technique look poor to me and he doesn't look like he has an idea of what he's trying to do when he gets the ball, it's all a bit chaotic. For all of his faults, and he has a lot, Balo at the same age was technically superb, his touch, vision, passing and shooting were class he just had a horrible attitude. I hope at least one of Pellegri, Esposito, Scammaca, Salcedo or Kean can break out over the next few years and truly become top class
on the 18th November, 2020 at 10:22am
Before speaking of the Nations League final 4 and top seeding in WC qualifiers, we still have a game to play and it almost seems everyone is forgetting Italy failed to beat Bosnia and Herzegovina at home and now have to beat them away to guarantee winning the group. I worry, because of the lack of clinical finishers upfront, Italy may keep their unbeaten record but fail to win and with either Netherlands or Poland winning, they will be overtaken. Fingers crossed, they win.
on the 18th November, 2020 at 9:30am
All in all it's the best time to be an Italy fan since 2012.

I'm not sure why everyone's worried about the strikers. Immobile, Belotti and Kean are all perfectly reasonable strikers who score goals for their clubs. It's difficult to get into a rhythm at international level but I wouldn't be surprised if one of them doesn't have a big tournament in them. Either that or we do what we did in 2006 and have 10 scorers!
on the 18th November, 2020 at 3:24am
@ Concerned Reader You misspelt "advice". That's a bit awkward.....
on the 18th November, 2020 at 3:07am
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 2.5 years under Mancio.. young talent is in abundance... I'd like to see Bastoni remain in the role of CB. Time for Bonucci and Chielini to move aside.. Roma's Mancini would work well alongside Bastoni.

We need to score a bit more.. I still think we need that lethal striker.. haven't had that in a long time.. but, maybe they can keep it going with a scoring by committee approach.. Spain sort of did that playing false 9 all those glorious years..

Bravo!
on the 18th November, 2020 at 2:44am
@juve fan

Sorry Moise Kean is average
What are you talking about??
We have five strikers better than him
Awful clueless striker
Nonsense!!!!!
on the 17th November, 2020 at 11:03pm
Lino i would not say national team built on juve backs u forget italys dynasty Milan, inter Milan and Roma who provided the on field squad. Even gig riva national team top goal scorer was from Cagliari. Outside of the 1934 team and Paola Rossi juve have actually systemically deteriorated figc and its home grown policies and let's not forget the soccer scandals and it apex in no UCL since 1996 other then domestic success.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 11:03pm
ventura italy side was symptomatic of over a decade of figc mismanagement the hangover of which is still in the national side.

at least under mancini they have shown real quality you could argue have they really been tested yet but at least with mancini in large you feel they are going to be competitive.

still the lack of strikers is concerning personally i think the likes of scamacca and pellegri show some promise kean is a enigma in terms of him getting the opportunity to play.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 10:29pm
Spain-Germany 6-0...
on the 17th November, 2020 at 9:37pm
@LucaC
‘@Lukas. I understand what you're saying but lets not forget Italy have played Holland and Poland home and away and not lost. They're both tough places to go. They also destroyed some of the smaller teams, something never really seen by the national team.’

Absolutely correct. In the past Italy would never have beaten ‘smaller’ nations by 4, 5 or 6 goals. And I agree Netherlands and Poland are tough opponents. But they are not serial winners like Germany, France, Spain.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 7:27pm
Haha Anonymous thankfully the national team isn't biased like you - when fit Chiesa starts, likewise Kean is our best CF on current form, if PSG make room to play him alongside Mbappe Neymar and Di Maria as they did before injuries - he's good enough.

I'd rather have Bastoni and Romagnoli as Italy's starting centre backs, with Acerbi as their first choice back up. Bonucci is shaky and Chiellini is now too injury prone and I'm saying that as a Juve fan - but hey I'm not biased.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 6:09pm
@Gino....continued...
Where did that comment arrive from?
That’s laughable
Sweden are an avarege hard working team, this Italy would outskill and outpass Sweden
The Ventura Italy would struggle against any average team.... it just happened to be Sweden, but in truth it could have been any other team, no clue no idea average players and players did not respond to the manager!
Please talk about football intelligently.....
This Italy is Mancini....not Ventura!!!
I rest my case
on the 17th November, 2020 at 4:27pm
Sam martini

Here here totally agree, I could only ever play for Italy bed of
Can’t accept changing nationality.
Lapadula chose Italy, it’s his fault he deteriorated into average, however he should still only be available for Italy.
Look at England absolute disgrace that the average Rice.....played for Ireland and now plays for England shocking and not correct.
@ Gino.... with respect what in God’s name are you talking about?????
This Italy would destroy Sweden ... especially over two games,!!!
on the 17th November, 2020 at 4:22pm
Get me Caputo and Berardi on the starting lineup and we'd be talking. I have no idea why Bernardeschi is still called up.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 4:11pm
Careful Anonymous....
You're letting your 'Black and Blue' show.

Let's not forget our history, my friend, and the fact that every Italian World Cup championship team was forged on the backs of Juventus players.

A little respect where it's due.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 4:04pm
Any thoughts about Lapadula playing for Peru. Anyone think he could have done a job for italy?. I dont agree with players playing for a country just because one country doesnt call them up. Its one or the other. I was born in italy, my dad is italian but my mum is english mixed with some scottish blood. If italy never called me up i would never play for england. I would rather swim in shark infested waters than that. My point is you make a choice from the heart.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 3:13pm
That was unbelievable how Szczęsny (Juventus), Zieliński & Milik (Napoli), Linetty (Torino), Walukiewicz (Cagliari), Bereszyński (Sampdoria), Glik (Benevento), Reca (Crotone) couldn't play against their opponent Italian Serie A players.
Chapeau bas, Signore Mancini!

BTW is there any good Italian coach currently on the market, for Poland NT?
on the 17th November, 2020 at 1:21pm

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