Monday, January 20, 2020

Roberto Mancini Set To Carry Italy To New Heights

Juan Pablo Aravena in Editorial 11 Sep 2019

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Breezes of change are being felt in Italy when it comes to the National Team. Roberto Mancini has done a great job to position the country at the upper echelons of the European scene, a place Italy should have never left in the first place. The numbers speak volumes of Italy’s return to a top status in the UEFA region.

Italy are only one of three teams to carry a perfect record in the 2020 European Championship Qualifiers after six matches, alongside Belgium and Spain. The main difference here lies on the fact that both Belgium and Spain were expected to do so, while Italy had several uncertainties around them heading into the qualifying campaign.

Let’s not forget Italy are coming off one of their worst runs of results in history. Gli Azzurri didn’t get past the group stage in both the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup, while failing to qualify altogether for Russia 2018. Things in the European Championships have been better, but they still have failed to reach expectations. Their most recent appearance ended in a quarterfinal exit against Germany on penalties.

How much credit does Roberto Mancini deserve here?

So, who gets most of the credit here? Undoubtedly, Italy have always had the players to remain competitive. But the change of mindset, attitude and the assembling of a team should all be credited to Mancini. The former Manchester City manager decided to shake things off as soon as he arrived. He began calling up young, promising players that could inject some much-needed new blood to the side. The results have been excellent so far.

Among Mancini’s discoveries, we can find goalkeeper Alex Meret and defender Gianluca Mancini. He also deserves credit for inserting midfielders Sandro Tonali, Stefano Sensi and Nicolò Barella as regulars. Kevin Lasagna, Vincenzo Grifo and Federico Chiesa have also earned more prominent roles, just like Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile. It would be unfair to say Mancini has re-built the team entirely, but he has given Italy a different mystique. Something they had been lacking in the past few years.

Perhaps the best sign of this is the fact that, out of the 27 players called up for the recent international round of matches against Armenia and Finland, 21 had not reached the 30-year-old mark yet. 14 of them were 25 or younger, showing a core that could very well carry Italy for the next two World Cups.

The future can be even brighter for Gli Azzurri

Let’s assume Mancini keeps most of the current core altogether. This is how a potential future XI of Italy in the next few years could look like:

Gianluigi Donnarumma; Emerson Palmieri, Alessio Romagnoli, Leonardo Bonucci, Luca Pellegrini; Jorginho, Stefano Sansi, Nicolò Barella; Federico Bernardeschi, Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa.

That’s a very talented starting lineup and, Bonucci aside, all of them are under 30 years old.

Things might get even better since we haven’t even mentioned up-and-coming players that didn’t take part of the most recent squad. We can’t leave players such as Mattia De Sciglio, Marco Verratti, Bryan Cristante, Nicolò Zaniolo, Lorenzo Insigne, Moise Kean, Domenico Berardi and Patrick Cutrone.

Undoubtedly, Italy are in good shape going forward. And Roberto Mancini deserves a lot of credit for how the side looks both now, and towards the future.


Juan Pablo Aravena

A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.



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