Italy have done it! After the 2018 World Cup qualifying disaster, Roberto Mancini and his reborn Azzurri have officially qualified for next summer’s Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Greece.
Jorginho and Federico Bernardeschi goals sealed a hard fought win over a compact, organized Greece side, making it a perfect 7 wins from 7 in Group J play.
Here are the player ratings for the Italians.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK, 6,0) – The Rossoneri keeper was hardly tested in this one, facing little pressure as Italy firmly controlled possession. An easy cleansheet for the undisputed number one.
Danilo D’Ambrosio (DEF, 6,0) – Italy’s fullback play was a bit iffy tonight, but D’Ambrosio did a fairly decent job pushing forward and trying to break down Greece. While not a convincing performance, Mancini values the Inter man’s grit and toughness.
Leonardo Bonucci (DEF, 6,0) – The captain often handled most of the build-up responsibility in this one as Jorginho was advanced forward. Bonucci dropped a few signature balls into tight areas over the top, but also was careless with several others that will be exploited by much better sides in the tournament next summer.
Francesco Acerbi (DEF, 6,0) – Lazio’s captain was tidy and acted as the stopper tonight. Though hardly under pressure, Acerbi’s past two appearances show great enthusiasm, experience and chemistry next to Bonucci, giving Mancini something to think about moving forward.
Leonardo Spinazzola (DEF, 6,0) – Very active in the final third with attempts to swing in crosses and break down Greece. Most would agree that as long as Spinazzola can stay healthy, he should start.
Nicolò Barella (MID, 5,5) – Of the three midfielders tonight, Barella was perhaps the least impactful. Work rate was there throughout and his robust frame helped in certain physical battles, but there is a possibility that Sensi can overthrow him and complete the midfield three next to Jorginho and Verratti as his Inter teammate can provide quite a bit forward.
Jorginho (MID, 7,0) – After being left out plenty by Gian Piero Ventura, Mancini has entrusted the Chelsea man to sit, operate and do what he does best at the base of the midfield. Tonight, it was much of the same for Jorginho, except he did find himself trying to push into more advanced positions as Bonucci acted as the deep playmaker. Another ice-cold penalty conversion ultimately clinched the Euro 2020 berth and it will certainly be a night to remember for the former Napoli star.
Marco Verratti (MID, 7,0) – Though perhaps he started slow and struggled to assert himself on the match, Verratti ramped it up in the final half hour to aid Italy’s assault to grab the win. Confident, difficult to bully off the ball, and executing a crunching tackle to give Italy that chance at the penalty, the PSG man remains vital to the cause.
Federico Chiesa (ATT, 5,5) – The Fiorentina man came off minutes before the break with a muscular injury, providing little impact in what was an uninspiring first 45.
Ciro Immobile (ATT, 5,5) – Quiet night for the Lazio striker. His only real attempt was a header which was confidently saved by the opposing keeper. Italy fans are hopeful he finds his form very soon and perform for country like he does so often for club.
Lorenzo Insigne (ATT, 6,5) – Italy’s most dangerous player against the Greek defence, often working to push the envelope and make something happen in the final third. As the number 10, Insigne needs to find that cutting edge and end product we know he has if the Azzurri wish to elevate their game collectively.
Federico Bernardeschi (ATT, 6,5) – Relieving the injured Chiesa at the 40 minute mark, Bernardeschi took some time to get into a rhythm and make a difference. Like Verratti though, his last 25-30 minutes showed glimpses of what he is capable of. Along with his left footed goal to the far post, the Juventus man delivered a pinpoint ball over the top to Insigne which was saved well by the keeper. Bernardeschi’s versatility alone will get him on the roster for Euro 2020.
Andrea Belotti (ATT, 6,0) – The in-form Torino bomber came on for Immobile in the 80th minute, showing active behavior to latch onto aerial balls as well as aid in the link-up. The striker role is without question the biggest talking point heading forward.
Nicolò Zaniolo (ATT, n/a) – The Roma man came on very late in this one, leaving little to assess in his brief cameo off the bench.
Roberto Mancini (6,5) – A perfect 7/7 for ‘Mancio’ deserves plenty of praise and plaudits, as well as his youth expansion to rely heavily on several key youngsters. Under his watch, Italy have won eight in a row across all competitions, which has been done only once (Vittorio Pozzo in the 30s with 9). But, while the former Inter and City boss should be applauded, his Italy need to find more ways to break down opponents like Greece who aren’t fearful of sitting deep, absorbing and looking to stir something on the counter. Still, with three matches left, there is no better time than now to experiment, get more creative and take the next step with this exciting project.
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