How are Italy shaping up ahead of the Nations League kick-off?
Daniel Anwar | 4 September 2018
Azzurri looking to bounce back after missing World Cup
It’s been a painful summer for Italy, who had to watch the World Cup from home after failing to qualify for the first time in 50 years.
But they’ll be looking to return to glory under Roberto Mancini. The former Manchester City boss has taken charge of three games so far, overseeing a win against Saudi Arabia, a draw with the Netherlands and a loss to France.
Italy are 8/11 favourites to start their Nations League campaign with a home win against Poland this week. The Coral News Team have taken a look at how they’re preparing…
A new era
Mancini hasn’t called up Gianluigi Buffon or Daniele De Rossi for these games, while Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli retired from international duty after the shock World Cup play-off defeat to Sweden.
That means the squad has a much younger look about it, with Alessio Cragno, Manuel Lazzari, Cristiano Biraghi and Nicolo Zaniolo all receiving their first call-ups. Pietro Pellegri was also included, but the young forward had to return to Monaco with an injury.
Mancini is likely to make Jorginho and Lorenzo Insigne key figures of the side too, after they were strangely overlooked by his predecessor Gian Piero Ventura.
Playing time problems
There’s plenty of talent in the squad, but Mancini is concerned that they don’t see enough action at their clubs. He’s called on Serie A clubs to show more “courage” and give their youngsters a chance.
Zaniolo has never made a league appearance for Roma, yet he’s been included in the senior squad.
A few of the more experienced players may also be undercooked. Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri could stake a claim for the full-back spots, but the Chelsea duo haven’t got on the pitch for their club so far this season.
Mario Balotelli could make his first competitive appearance for the Azzurri since the 2014 World Cup against Poland on Friday. But after angling for a move in the summer, he’s only made one appearance for Nice this term.
Mancini’s young squad looks promising now, but it could develop into the real deal at Euro 2020 or at the World Cup two years later. They’re 14/1 to win the next Euros.
In Gianluigi Donnarumma, Daniele Rugani and Alessio Romagnoli, Italy have the makings of a rock-solid defensive unit
Marco Verratti is injured and misses out on this squad, but the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder should form a very good midfield partnership with Jorginho when he returns to fitness. The two of them would allow Italy to control possession and the tempo of games.
In attack, the likes of Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone are very exciting talents. If they continue to progress, they could cause real problems at major tournaments in the coming years.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing