Mancini Makes Questionable Choices in The Final Third

belotti

Since being appointed Italy boss after the World Cup debacle, Roberto Mancini has done well to implement a distinct style of play, and identify key players for his setup moving forward. With the defence and midfield all but set, barring a few adjustments, the attack remains Mancini’s last puzzle. While the former Inter tactician has introduced the likes of Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean into the fold, some of Mancini’s choices in the final third have been questionable, to say the least.

In Mancini’s latest selections, Vincenzo Grifo and Leonardo Pavoletti both got the call to represent their nation. The latter, a 30-year-old mid-table journeyman, won’t be on the international scene for much longer and failed at the only big club he was at, while Grifo has only played eight games in league action this season thus far for Freiburg and has never demonstrated to be anything more than a decent squad player.

After years of struggling for options in the final third, Mancini is finally blessed with various talents in the attacking department, be it with Bernardeschi, Chiesa, and Kean among others. Now is not the time to experiment with players who are on the wrong side of 30 or haven’t been consistent in front of goal.

Regardless of their form this season, neither Pavoletti or Grifo will represent Italy next summer, and neither deserves to take valuable experience away from the nation’s budding forwards. What is more puzzling is that the in-form Andrea Belotti was left home, despite his recent resurgence.

The Torino forward has lead the line exceptionally well, and has propelled I Granata into an unlikely race for European football. While he’s had better goal tallies in past seasons, Belotti has become a more well-rounded forward under Walter Mazzarri and is ready for another go on the international scene. At 25 years old, Il Gallo is about to enter the prime of his career, and is an excellent option for Mancini.

Another player who could have also gotten the call ahead of Pavoletti and Grifo was Mario Balotelli. Despite some previous attitude concerns, Supermario’s has been Italy’s most consistent forward over the years, and has done well in Marseille, scoring four goals in his last six games. Mancini had this to say about Balotelli’s exclusion.

“Balotelli still isn’t in peak condition, he’s improving but I expect a lot from him and he can improve further. In general, all of the technical players are improving and this is comforting for me.” (Source: Twitter – @Azzurri)

The reality is that, much like Balotelli, Grifo hasn’t played much for Freiburg, and yet still received a call-up. Had Mancini cited previous indiscipline as his reason, it would have made Balotelli’s exclusion understandable. Regardless, Supermario deserves one more run with the Nazionale, and will likely get the chance next time around.

Balotelli

While Mancini has done relatively well at blending youth with experience, another player who should have, at the very least, been part of the training camp is Milan’s Patrick Cutrone. Since breaking onto the scene, the Milan forward has demonstrated all the raw abilities of a top forward, and has a knack for being at the right place at the right time.

At just 21 years old, Cutrone, alongside Juventus’ Moise Kean, are easily Mancini’s best long-term bets. Since Krzysztof Piatek’s arrival, however, Cutrone has found playing time hard to come by. Despite this, he deserves a shot with the national team, and could prove useful at the upcoming Euros if given consistent playing time.

Moving forward, Mancini can’t keep turning to the likes of Pavoletti and Grifo as they are taking away development time from Italy’s potential, long-term number nines. Let’s face it, neither will make the final squad while Belotti, Balotelli and Cutrone all have a great shot. The ball’s now in Mancini’s court.

Are you a Serie A expert? Can you defeat the top Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you think so, playwww.fantasyseriea.com now!

Spalletti battling for survival as Inter try to save face against Milan

AC-Milan-v-FC-Internazionale-Serie-A-1552824750

“The derby is always the derby, it makes you feel strong emotions even if I was even more motivated for games against Juventus. All of the wins against Milan were good, even the 4-0 which I spent on the bench. The Rossoneri have toughened up because Gattuso snarls on the bench and makes it look like they’re playing with 12. Piątek fights for every ball but he scores as part of the team thanks to everyone. Our guys will know what to do.” Those were the words of former Nerazzurri defender Marco Materazzi, who spoke to Inter TV about what it meant for him to feature in the Derby Milano during his playing career. Continue reading

Spalletti in defiant mood ahead of Derby Milano

spalletti

Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s Derby della Madonnina between AC Milan and Inter. Here is what the Nerazzurri coach said to the journalists who gathered at the Suning Training Centre yesterday afternoon: Continue reading

Spalletti demanding great Inter performance versus Frankfurt

spalletti

Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of Inter’s UEFA Europa League last 16 match against Eintracht Frankfurt tomorrow night. Here is what the 60-year-old tactician had to say: “We must focus on this game in front of us rather than the league. It’s a knockout tie, therefore, I expect something great, with that added bit extra on an individual level. The players are aware that this is a crucial moment.” Continue reading

Marotta non-committal on Icardi’s Inter future

icardi

Beppe Marotta was interviewed by Sky Sport prior to Inter’s 2-0 victory over SPAL this afternoon. Inevitably, the Nerazzurri’s CEO sport was asked about Mauro Icardi’s future at the club, with the Argentine refusing to train despite being given the all-clear by medical staff at Appiano Gentile. Here is what the former Sampdoria and Juventus transfer guru had to say on the matter: Continue reading

Professional Inter display should set tone for Frankfurt and Milan

spalletti

“There aren’t many games left and every result is vital as we pursue our goals. Could this week be a turning point? I expect the team to adapt to every situation. As we’ve said before, a number of players allow us to always put out the best Inter team and that’s how it will be in the upcoming games. We need to understand what we have to do and where we need to go. At some points this season, we could have done better but we did very well at other points and the team has always shown that it has the desire to move forward.” Continue reading

Spalletti delighted by Inter’s second half performance against SPAL

spalletti

Luciano Spalletti spoke to the media in the aftermath of Inter’s comfortable 2-0 victory over SPAL this afternoon. Here is what he had to say: “Despite our absences, 11 players worthy of Inter headed out onto the pitch today. We struggled a bit with the emotions at the start and this must not happen. We knew we had to win and once our fire started to burn inside then we broke the deadlock and went on to win. We were a bit timid and insecure during the first half. The lads had a different conviction after our second goal and we were back in possession of our characteristics. In the second half, I could see what we were really about. Continue reading

Spalletti more than satisfied by Inter’s performance in Frankfurt

spalletti

Luciano Spalletti spoke to Sky Sport in the aftermath of Inter’s goalless draw against Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last 16 tie. Here is what he had to say: “I must praise the guys because they played with authority and personality, making an impact on the game. It wasn’t easy here. In these types of matches, qualification is fought for over 180 minutes. Only the second leg result will determine if this 0-0 is a positive result. Continue reading

Cédric insists Inter are aiming for Europa League glory

cedric-e1549018044280

Inter full-back Cédric Soares spoke to the media in anticipation of tomorrow night’s UEFA Europa League last 16 match against Eintracht Frankfurt. Here is what he had to say: “It’s been a good two months for me. When given the chance to play, I always look to give my all and help the team. As for my future at the end of the season, I’ve not thought about it. Inter signed me because they had faith in me and I also have faith in myself. I always give my all, whether that be playing one minute, 20 or 90. What happens is beyond my control, but obviously, I’d be very happy if I were to stay. Continue reading

Spalletti expects Inter to stand up and be counted in Frankfurt

spalletti

Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of Inter’s UEFA Europa League last 16 match against Eintracht Frankfurt tomorrow night. Here is what the Tuscan tactician had to say as he previewed the first leg: “Our opponents are enjoying a great season, they play good football. They have a lot of quality but we’ll look to be strong tomorrow. We’ll look to give our all to get the best result possible. We must learn from recent experiences so that we have the right intentions on the pitch and so that we can display all of our ability.” Continue reading