Nations League, Italy-Belgium: for Raspadori, Calabria and Pellegrini a test with a view on Qatar

Nations League, Italy-Belgium: for Raspadori, Calabria and Pellegrini a test with a view on Qatar
Nations League, Italy-Belgium: for Raspadori, Calabria and Pellegrini a test with a view on Qatar

Against Belgium it is not a game that matters only for the ranking: Italy needs to renew itself and must start immediately

Third place looks like a wonderful curse. If we organize a tournament in Italy we can be sure of the result: it is always “finalina”. European 1980: ko on penalties with Czechoslovakia in Naples. 1990 World Cup: England 2-1 in Bari. And now Nations, Italy-Belgium on Sunday. All useless games? When ever. Nine of the heroes of Mundial 82 were on the field against the Czechoslovakians, including Altobelli, 24, semi-rookie in the second presence: the 3-0 to Germany two years later would have scored him. In the match against the English, the first goal was from Baggio, who then played a leading role in USA 94 until the final against Brazil.

Second cycle

Given that 80 and 90 anticipated two finals, one wonders who will be the Altobelli or Baggio to play for the World Cup in 2022 … This is a great opportunity. It is the possible starting point for a national team that has to renew itself like Spain, France, Germany. It is the reduced risk crash test (but the risk is there and it is the Fifa ranking). Pretending to crystallize the Wembley line-up would be hurting. Instead it is the moment of experimentation, of the end of gratitude, of the definition of the new principles. The second cycle of Mancini can be born from the Spanish ashes. Calabria and Raspadori are obligatory names for Sunday, Locatelli and Pellegrini are already the present.


The regret remains for the injured Zaniolo and for Tonali left to the Under 21 team: the AC Milan player would have been fundamental to break the obsessive dribble of the Spaniards. Already Locatelli, with a very different physicality than Verratti, had changed the balance. Imagining those two with Jorginho in between is not idle. Because Spain has confirmed that we cannot be slaves to the “good game at all costs”, as Chiellini said, but in certain situations we need more physicality. In a year, Tonali and Locatelli, enriched by a Champions League, cannot fail to be at the center of the project. They could be two midfielder “directed” by Jorginho, or one of the two could take the place of the Italian-Brazilian with the entry of Pellegrini, Pessina, not to mention Barella who has every right to miss a game. But the Spanish lesson was twofold. Meanwhile, Verratti must be at its best, otherwise its irreplaceable becomes a problem. In addition, there are situations – see the Spanish possession – to which we must respond with opposite weapons: because on the level of the dribble we lose at the start.


Sashes are not the problem: Chiesa, Zaniolo, Berardi, Insigne, Bernardeschi offer an abundance of solutions. The catch is in the center. The false 9 gave results in the containment phase to manage, make density and possession, start again. But we don’t have a De Bruyne, a Bernardo Silva to win. We need a center forward, especially against imperfect defenses like the Spanish one. Immobile is not young, Belotti is in a moment like this, but the Under tank offers interesting solutions: Raspadori (21 years old, the Pablito of movement), Scamacca (22, the powerful and technical center forward who however does not play in Sassuolo), Kean (21, who, however, is completing his transformation into a Mandzukic winger, but is no longer a true center forward) and the emerging Lucca that Mancini will select in November. At 21, Lucca is climbing like in the old days: Serie C (Palermo), Serie B (Pisa), the next may be the year of A, but the national team does not wait for this two-meter forward who can do with our external players. the bang. Young? Gavi is 17 years old, Pedri and Pino 18, Ferran 21, we will not be the ones with age problems with Mancini.


This is the sector that leaves less peace of mind, a paradox for our tradition. Beyond the “red” of San Siro, Bonucci remains irreplaceable as Chiellini, still the best scorer in Europe at 37. Acerbi and Toloi are reliable but not the future. Bastoni is experiencing growth problems, it is not Conte’s, he is less bad in marking and less confident in setting: if he plays on Sunday he must give a signal of awakening. Then? Mancini is the only one with experience. A serious problem. Remaining in the back area: we don’t even sleep soundly on the outside. On the right, Calabria grew up with Milan and now offers guarantees of balance between backward protection and offensive thrust: we want to see him on Sunday because we need an alternative to Di Lorenzo. On the left, Spinazzola is missing, Emerson’s growth has stopped and Dimarco is still to be evaluated. From the future come the names of Calafiori and Cambiaso but there is no need to write science fiction novels. It takes time, but there isn’t a lot of it. Let’s get started right away?

8 October – 07:39



Nations League ItalyBelgium Raspadori Calabria Pellegrini test view Qatar

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