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.


Have your say...
Good performance from Italy with the only thing lacking is that quality in the final 3rd and someone who can put away chances. Also, let's all be honest. That Poland team played awful. Even though Mancini is getting the best out of this group of players, I would still see them struggling to beat that Sweden team that KO'd them a couple of years ago. It will be interesting to see how Italy will play against a team that will park the bus or against a top 4 team.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 12:29pm
What I don’t understand is why the coach is giving every other strike a chance except Scamacca the one strike who would compliment the strong play from the midfielders and wingers because he is a better footballer than all of the strikers picked so far with the ball at his feet he can hold up and create chances for the others and went given a proper chances will bury it away better than all the other strikers.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 10:31am
luciano s
there is no golden generation in england a bunch of overated and overpaid second division players who are nowhere as good as the italian players
on the 17th November, 2020 at 10:29am
What I love about this Azzurri is the fact that any player can come into the side and perform with confidence. Everyone knows their role and worth and it's reflecting in the results. Exciting times ahead - However we desperately need a prolific striker, unless one of our current crop turns up during tournament play and produces the goods? History tells us that we do have a tendency to do that.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 9:25am
Very impressed with the 2 matches we have had. Lots of players missing yet 2 really good performances. The missing link is a prolific striker, my worry is this will ultimately cost us further down the line. I pray i am wrong. Hoping for another good performance and win tomorrow. Really good we are seeded for world cup qualifying, very important.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 9:05am
@ gozens. Completely right, those victories in friendlies were crucial to obtaining top seed status and hopefully getting an easier draw as well as giving the team general confidence.

@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.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 8:46am
I think the only thing missing here is Mario Balotelli. I think he would bring just a touch more professionalism and unity which would complete this near perfect team.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 8:25am
Hope the moderators on this page will take my advise constructively.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 6:34am
Don't they bother proof reading these articles before publication. Football-italia standards have been deteriorating over the years for a while now. Hope this changes for the better.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 6:33am
on the 17th November, 2020 at 2:19am
Best thing about Italy no Juve contingent other then Berna and by all respect he should leave juve,they r destroying his career. Very talented and power strike. For me insigne is the main man he wears #10 for a reason. One of the most if not most underrated players in Italy. Next up should be Politano and Scammac get rid of chiesa kean worthless players. Bring in homegrown lower tier club players Italy will take the nations league and more to come.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 2:17am
They have done well but the competition has been of low quality. The Euro qualifying group for Italy was the easiest.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 12:59am
Insigne is the best my favorite player ,his passes are incredible.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 12:35am
I think Insigne is incredible ,maybe the best passer on the team. I am a little concerned about Emerson and why he plays every game
on the 17th November, 2020 at 12:31am
I agree with you Insigne looked great yesterday. Can someone tell me why Emerson is out there every game. Keep in mind I love Italian nationals but am not an expert.
on the 17th November, 2020 at 12:18am
I'm wondering this team can play this good with out their head coach... Players playing in sync with no attitudes or egos..plenty of reinforcements and depth behind most positions which translates to HOW BAD VENTURA ERA WAS...END OF DISCUSSION
on the 17th November, 2020 at 12:05am
we also have Jorginho, Verratti, Pellegrini, Castrovilli and if he can stop injuring himself, Sensi. The only area of the field where we lack I think is at the forward position. We need a lethal striker. If someone pops up out of nowhere like Schillaci did in 1990 that would be great, Caputo maybe. But we may have one coming up on the horizon... Gianluca Scamacca.
on the 16th November, 2020 at 11:01pm
This Italy side is soooo exciting to watch, they really are. There are so many young players which is a great thing. I think Bastoni will be a pillar in the azzurri defense for years to come (hopefully we can find another center back just as good). But the part of the field where I think we are excelling is in the middle of the park. Our midfielders are very strong. Barella is becoming a world class player, Locatelli seems a completely different player since leaving Milan, then of course
on the 16th November, 2020 at 10:55pm
What Mancini's also done right is win friendlies and chase points so Italy gets a top seed for qualifying, instead of drawing Spain or France in the group stage.
on the 16th November, 2020 at 10:39pm
The future looks bright but the same was said about Belgium's and, dare I say it, England's golden generation. Both won nothing. I think we have talented youngsters but unless we find a top quality scorer we'll go nowhere. I'm looking forward to the semis, should we get through. That will be a real test. Let's put it this way, if this team beats Germany or France in the final, then they've arrived. Until then, nothing really matters.
on the 16th November, 2020 at 10:03pm
No wonder we're doing so well, getting away with a 4-4-3 give us a consistent numerical advantage :-)
on the 16th November, 2020 at 9:39pm
If Italy get into the top 4 of the Nations League - and they should - then it will be an opportunity to play some ‘big’ teams. Top seeding is also guaranteed for the WC qualifiers so the immediate future is good. With this Covid situation yesterday’s team was a patched together team. But they did well. There are not many I would change. I don’t think Immobile would make much difference. Perhaps bring back Chiellini if playing France or Germany.
on the 16th November, 2020 at 7:38pm
Barella is on his way to world class status. Locatelli at only 22 also looks like he will be a top player. With veterans like Verratti and Jorginho, and other youngsters like Tonali, Sensi, and Pellegrini in the mix, this Italian midfield looks to be a dominating force. I'm wondering if Italy shouldn't look to a false nine formation and play three of Chiesa, Insigne, Berna, Berardi, Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Orsolini, Girfo, etc every game. Have Immobile/Belotti as subs only if we are chasing a game.
on the 16th November, 2020 at 6:03pm
While Barella and the mentioned players had a great game. The best player on the pitch was Insigne, yet no mention of him. You can be sure when Insigne plays badly, there are many things are written about him and he bares the brunt more than other player after a bad performance. 'Tifosi' hate Napoli and Neapolitans which is why Insigne never gets the credit he deserves. He has been one of the top players since Mancini took over, and on his day is one of the most creative players in Serie A.
on the 16th November, 2020 at 5:37pm

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