Italy will play its first match since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup this Friday against one of the tournament favorites, Argentina.
Heading into tomorrow’s match against Leo Messi and Co. the Azzurri will look to begin the much-needed rebuilding process. Besides the usual faces like Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci, head coach Luigi Di Biago’s selection for the Argentina and England friendlies includes various newcomers.
Serie A starlets Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone have received their first call up to the senior team, while Napoli’s Jorginho and Bologna’s Simone Verdi are returning to the National Team for the fourth and third time respectively.
Heading into the international break, here are the three Azzurri players with the most to prove.
Similar to his fellow debutant Patrick Cutrone, Federico Chiesa has enjoyed some success with the Azzurri youth squads. Chiesa was a key player for Di Biagio’s U21 side, scoring three goals and assisting six during his time with the Azzurrini. In addition this, his performances in Serie A are a a positive sign that the 20-year-old will fare well with the senior team.
Chiesa has five goals and two assists for La Viola this year (which for a side that currently sits in 9th and has only scored 38 times this year is not bad) and his play has drawn the attention of Serie A counterpart Napoli, and European powerhouse Bayern Munich. The Genoa-born winger’s technical ability and high IQ of the game make him an excellent asset going forward. Also, while he is primarily a winger, Chiesa provides flexibility as he can play essentially anywhere across the front line.
Federico Chiesa will look to prove himself to those big name clubs this international break when he comes up against some of Europe’s best, and while it’s yet to be seen what role he will play for Italy, he certainly has all the tools to establish himself as a mainstay for the national team for years to come.
With only two appearances for Italy to his name, Verdi has the opportunity to make himself a regular for the Azzurri. During this international break, Verdi will have to prove that he is deserves to be a part of Italy’s future.
Arguably one of the top attacking threats in Serie A this season, Simone Verdi currently has 7 goals for Rossoblu and is second in the league in assists with 8. After turning down a move to Napoli in the January transfer window, the door has opened again for Verdi to join the Partenopei this summer. In a transfer saga that angered many of the Napoli faithful, Verdi’s decision to finish the season out at Bologna was probably the right one. At Bologna he’s a regular starter, something that definitely wasn’t a guarantee at Sarri’s Napoli, and he’s in a system that has allowed him to have the most productive season of his professional career.
Similar to Chiesa, Verdi is versatile going forward and can play anywhere along the frontline. His dribbling ability and lack of a weak foot (go look at the Bologna v Crotone game if you want proof) make him an attacking threat and a much welcomed addition the squad.
How Jorginho wasn’t called up before the World Cup qualifier against Sweden is a mystery, but he’s with the squad now and nothing could be better. While we all know what he is capable of, the Napoli midfield metronome will still have to prove that he can anchor Italy’s midfield as well as he does Napoli’s.
Maurizio Sarri’s midfield maestro leads the league in accurate passes per match, has a pass success rate of 89%, and averages 1.6 key passes a match (via Fotmob). He is without a doubt one of, if not the, best midfielder in Serie A and his services are being sought after by multiple Premier League giants such as Manchester United and Liverpool. In addition to his tremendous ability to run the midfield, Jorginho also excels at winning the ball back in the midfield.
One of the biggest things to look forward to is how he and Verratti pair up in the center of the park. Both do exceptionally well at building up play, and the fact that Di Biagio will most likely play a 4-3-3 means that both will be in a familiar system in which they can dominate.