The Italy national football team have come a long way from when the 4-time world champions failed to qualify for the World Cup 2018 in Russia to being a top European force ready to dominate the continent. This Young Squad from Italy might just cause a few upsets at Euro 2020.
Following their shock absence from the World Cup, senior players like Buffon, Chiellini, Barzagli, Danielle de Rossi announced their retirement from International football. The Azzurri then appointed former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini as their manager and things started to fall in place.
A declining squad full of ageing players slowly transformed into a brutal force full of agility, strength and youthfulness. In his 3 years with the Italian national team, Mancini has given an international debut to more than 30 players, including the likes of highly rated midfielders Nicolo Barella and Manuel Locatelli. Other notable debutants in the Mancini era include defender Alessandro Bastoni and Sandro Tonali.
Along with the heavy inclusion of youth, Italy also used their experienced players like captain Leonardo Bonucci, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti to full use.
With the perfect balance of experience and youth, this Italian team has the perfect opportunity to win their first European Championship since 1968. Italy are have reached the Nations League semi-final and are set to play Spain later this year. Currently, on an unbeaten run of 25 games, Italy has again become a threatening force that needs to be feared.
Who Is Italy’s Manager?
Roberto Mancini, the 56-year-old former Italian footballer turned manager was appointed by the Italian National Team on 14th May 2018 after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
Mancini was at the twilight of his career when he got the national call up. Having won multiple trophies in Italy and England with Inter Milan and Manchester City, Lazio and Fiorentina, he was essentially working at a level below his ability in the Russian league with Zenit St. Petersburg. His signing is looking fruitful for the Azzuri as many have called it a resurrection.
Mancini prefers to play a 4-3-3 tactical set-up with Italy. He is known for his pragmatic approach and deep defending to maintain clean sheets. Italy plays a 3-man midfield with a holding and two central midfielders to make fluid transitions from defence to attack and create goalscoring opportunities.
With pace and crossing prowess on either wing and clinical finishing ability in the middle, Italy have found the breakaway goals they needed on most occasions.
Italy’s Probable Squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alex Meret, Salvatore Sirigu
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Alessandro Bastoni, Francesco Acerbi, Rafael Toloi, Leonardo Spinazzola, Emerson Palmieri, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Alessandro Florenzi
Midfielders: Marco Veratti, Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Manuel Locatelli, Jorginho, Bryan Cristante, Matteo Pessina
Attackers: Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Andrea Belotti, Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa, Domenico Berardi, Giacomo Raspadori
Midfield maestro Marco Verratti has been one of the most consistent player for the Azzuri over the years. Him along with youngster Nicolò Barella in the midfield are responsible for the attacking transitions that Italy relies on to score goals. Verratti is known for dictating the tempo and orchestrating attacks with his acute passing ability.
Despite having an injury-laden average season with his club side PSG, alone would refrain from writing the little genius off.
Verratti has registered 6 assists for the Paris side this season until now and will be key for Italy if they go on to win their second European championship at Euro 2020.
Alessandro Bastoni has been a key player for Serie A leaders Inter Milan as they look to end Juventus’ 9 year long Scudetto streak. In Bastoni’s reign, Inter have conceded just 29 goals in the league and kept 13 clean sheets while at it.
The left-footed CB is known for creating chances from the back with his ball playing ability which helps his team break out on quick counter attacks, something Mancini would look to capitalise on with the pace he has on the wings. At 6ft 2in, Bastoni’s aerial ability is a great advantage to have in both the boxes.
Despite having more experienced options in defence, Mancini could trust the ‘Young Italian’ to keep his beloved clean sheets secured. His form will be vital for Italy at Euro 2020.
Italy struck bulls eye as they won all ten of their qualifiers on their way to the Euro 2020. They became only the 7th side in the history of the competition to keep a 100% record in the qualifying round. Overall, Italy are on a 25 match unbeaten run and have lost only 2 matches out of 28 under current manager Roberto Mancini.
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) March 25, 2021
Italy’s chances of getting past the group stage and going further in the tournament are quite high considering their sublime run of form. Their tactical set-up does allow them to sit back and exploit their opponent’s spaces but it might be difficult for them to break down defences that sit deep. Although Italy look like they’ve risen from the ruins, it will be an arduous job for them with Switzerland, Turkey and Wales ready to stop them in the group stage.
With the inexperienced yet bold squad, Italy won’t bow out of the tournament without giving a fight. Mancini has a big job on his hands to instill the required courage and self confidence in the team if they dream to go big in the tournament. Keeping their scorching form and overall team strength in mind, we at FootTheBall predict Italy to reach the semi-finals at the Euros 2020.