Wednesday, August 15, 2018

France 3-1 Italy: Mancini’s new-look Azzurri blown-away by World Cup-bound France

Daniel Orme in General Soccer News, World Cup 1 Jun 2018

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France continued their preparations for the World Cup in Russia in perfect style as they dismissed of Italy 3-1 on Friday evening.

Les Bleus were in inspired form throughout the evening and cruised to their victory as an early strike from Samuel Umtiti got them off to the perfect start. Antoine Griezmann struck from the penalty spot before Leonardo Bonucci got one back for Roberto Mancini’s team. The win was secured, however, in the second-half as Ousmane Dembele notched a stunning goal.

France flying as they head to Russia

With France being favourites having secured a place at the World Cup, it was no surprise to see Didier Deschamps’ men seize the advantage within only eight minutes through Umtiti. Italy stopper Salvatore Sirigu might have felt slightly unfortunate to see his excellent save from Kylian Mbappe’s back-post volley fell to the defender. The Barcelona man gleefully accepted, though, and slammed home from only yards out.

Les Blues went close to doubling their lead as Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante struck a fierce drive against the post. Mbappe then combined well with Griezmann but the former’s shot was saved by Sirigu before being cleared off the line.

Griezmann penalty extends lead before Italy fire back

The hosts regularly created chances in the opening stages as their impressive start to the match continued. Mbappe was again at the centre of things, this time sending a shot curling just wide of the post.

As a matter of fact, the lead was extended as Lucas Hernandez was fouled in the box by Rolando Mandragora, and the referee gave a penalty. Griezmann stepped up and converted coolly to put France in a comfortable position.

However, following the second France goal, Italy finally looked a threat and appealed for a penalty as Mario Balotelli fell under challenge. The appeals were waved away following video review. Despite that, Roberto Mancini’s men did get on the scoresheet from the resultant free-kick. Balotelli’s effort was too hot for Hugo Lloris to handle and Bonucci steered home the rebound from close range.

France fierce from the off

Despite Italy’s recovery, the second-half begun almost identically to the first. Dembele created plenty of problems for the defence and motored towards goal before crashing a shot off of the crossbar.

Mancini’s men were almost the architects of their own downfall yet again as chances fell the way of Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Corentin Tolisso but none of them were able to convert.

Dembele though, took the reins and showed his teammates how it was really done. Picking up the ball following a bustling run from Mbappe, he curled it expertly into the top corner from outside the area with a stunning strike to make sure of the win for France.

Final Thoughts

Heading to the World Cup, this match looked to be one of France’s toughest tests. Their attacking play was brilliant though and that will surely be a potent weapon in Russia. Italy did not have too many answers to the threat of the French.

Despite them finding a route back into the match, the Azzurri still look like a side with a lot more work to do – something probably expected considering that it was only Mancini’s second game in charge of the team since his arrival.

Match Report

France: Lloris (6); Hernandez (7) (Mendy (6), 61′), Umtiti (8), Rami (7), Pavard (7); Pogba (6) (N’Zonzi (N/A), 86′), Kanté (7), Tolisso (7) (Matuidi (N/A), 77′); Dembele (8) (Lemar (6), 70′), Mbappe (7) (Thauvin (N/A), 83′), Griezmann (7) (Giroud (N/A), 77′).

Italy: Sirigu (6); De Sciglio (6), Bonucci (7), Caldara (6), D’Ambrosio (6) (Florenzi (6), 74′); Mandragora (6), Jorginho (6) (Bonaventura (N/A), 77′), Pellegrini (5) (Cristante (5), 65′); Chiesa (6) (Zappacosta (N/A), 88′), Berardi (6) (Insigne (6), 74′), Balotelli (7) (Belotti (N/A), 86′).

Goals: Umtiti (8′), Griezmann PEN (29′), Bonucci (36′)

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Yellow Cards: Pellegrini (42′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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