Italy managed to split the spoils on Friday evening against a Poland determined to snag all three points in Bologna.
The Azzurri’s first ever goal in the UEFA Nations League was scored by Jorginho via a penalty earned by 20-year-old phenom Federico Chiesa.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (7): The 19-year-old made more than one jaw-dropping save tonight in his first start in an official match. Sure, he has a long way to go with his ball distribution at his feet, but Gigio kept his side the in the game early on with a sublime save against Piotr Zielinski. Helpless on the goal conceded, but otherwise solid.
Davide Zappacosta (6): Provided support in attack but was more than able to drop back and cover his flank. He’s quietly earning a starting job with this new-look Azzurri, and his performance tonight indicated somebody else is going to have to “unseat him” rather than the other way around.
Giorgio Chiellini (6.5): Looked shaky early and picked up a yellow card after barreling into Lewandowski, but really settled into a rhythm after conceding at the end of the first half. In the second, he opened up the Italy attack by moving into the middle of the park and dictating play from there. Odd to see Chiellini take a more central role when going forward.
Leonardo Bonucci (5.5): Not his usual self in terms of passing, but that may be due to the lack of movement up top. What really brings down his rating was he lost his man on the Poland goal, and it’s become the norm for him to do that for that the national team.
Cristiano Biraghi (5.5): Defensively solid, but his crossing tonight left a lot to be desired. In the last 30 seconds of the game alone he attempted four crosses, all of which were blocked. He may deserve another chance, but the Azzurri is in dire need of fullbacks that can do the job on both ends of the pitch…
Lorenzo Pellegrini (4.5): Who? Simply put, he was a complete non-factor in tonight’s game. Just simply wasn’t around and was subbed off at the half. He has to do more, has to be on the ball more, make more space, intercept more. Do something. Giacomo Bonaventura (6): The AC Milan midfielder added more edge to the attack but failed to make a real mark on proceedings. An upgrade over Pellegrini.
Jorginho Frello (5.5): He admitted post-game he was marked out of existent by Zielinski, which I am inclined to agree with. He has to start taking the game to the opposition, whether via the long ball or on the ground. He’s the heartbeat of the team, and he’s got to create more chances. His error tonight led to the Poland goal, but his rating is saved by his cooly taken PK.
Roberto Gagliardini (6): Impressed with his tenacity, but again, he’s not nearly on the ball enough to make a big impact. If he can somehow become more creative and develop another facet to his game, he may be more than useful for a retooled Italy.
Federico Bernardeschi (5): Wasteful, and at times had a touch worse than Romelu Lukaku. He’s got to calm down and not try to rush every pass, cross or shot. His left foot was nearly lethal – twice. But his sloppiness ruined far more than one Azzurri attack.
Mario Balotelli (4.5): A non-factor. His lack of movement tonight really hurt Italy and his refusal to drop deep and pick up the ball left his side very one-dimensional. Perhaps it was Mancini’s instructions to try to play more on the last man, but it wasn’t working whatsoever. He picked up a knock and was subbed off near the hour mark, which would’ve most likely been a tactical move anyways. Andrea Belotti (6): Provided a spark but failed to get a shot on goal. An upgrade over Balotelli.
Lorenzo Insigne (3.5): Awful. Simply awful from the Napoli winger. After being subbed off by Ancelotti at the half, Insigne continued his abysmal form on Friday night. He camps in the corners and does nothing except lay the ball back to his defender or a midfielder 30 yards deeper. He doesn’t have the physical edge to take players on, and he doesn’t have the speed to out pace the fullbacks. Useless tonight is an understatement. Federico Chiesa (6.5): Came on and made an immediate impact by running directly at his opponents. Caused Poland all sorts of problems and earned a penalty that tied the game. The question for him is quickly becoming whether or not he is a starter or simply an impact player at this stage of his career…