The Italians’ trip to Portugal ends in failure as the Azzurri fall 1-0 to their Iberian opposition.
Outside of Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal, there are very few positives to talk about after this international break. Roberto Mancini practically rotated the entire starting eleven, utilizing the vast majority of outfield players he had at his disposal, all of which ended with nothing to show for it.
Where do we begin?
We could talk about how useless virtually every attacker is. How none of them move or have any goal-scoring instincts. Or simply how this is the worst ever midfield the Azzurri has ever played with.
Jorginho has failed, in his now 10 appearances, to lead the midfield. Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile now boast a combined 11 goals in 60 appearances, few of which have come in international matches and none in major tournaments. Bernardeschi fares even worse with one lone goal in 14 appearances. In fact, the player with the most goals on the Italian national team right now is centerback Giorgio Chiellini. With 8.
Virtually every player aged between 24 and 28 pales in comparison to previous generations. So this poses the question, what does Mancini do next?
It’s time to clear the decks. It’s time for radical action because this is a full blown crisis. On top of missing out on the World Cup, the Azzurri now risk being relegated to a lower tier in the UEFA Nations League, which may bring more consequences than just pride. A lower ranking would see Italy paired with top nations in qualifying for major tournaments. Simply put, a repeat could be on the cards for the next World Cup considering Qualifying for the world’s biggest stage begins in just two years time.
It’s time for Mancini to be a man of his word and call and play the youth. Players like Pietro Pellegri, Nicolo Zaniolo, Nicolo Barella, Moise Kean, Sandro Tonali, Davide Bettella and so on.
Mattia De Sciglio
New formations, tactics, players will only alleviate the crisis at hand. Italian clubs should start an initiative to buy Italians, play Italians. Otherwise, this is the beginning of a very slippery slope.
The Azzurri will likely fall outside the top 25 in the FIFA World Rankings. A disgrace not witnessed since its inception over a decade and a half ago.