We started as we finished. Three goals difference with Argentina in the Grand Final. Three goals with the Germany in Nations League. Not good, but in eleven days there were at least three comforting matches: internal success on Hungary and draws with England (away from home) and, in the first leg, with the Germany.
I write this because fans and journalists have a short memory. In the only time we won and in the two we didn’t lose, the coach Roberto Mancini seemed to have finally returned that gentleman. who with a lot of sagacity (and a little luck) helped us win the European championship. When, however, the defeats came, both heavy, down insults and requests for resignation (from the so-called fans) and many perplexities from the most frowning critics for the already indigestible elimination of Qatar from the World Cup.
Yet Mancini had said it: I try young people, I experiment with those who have never worn the blue, I test those who have played less. When such operations are carried out, changing five formations for as many commitments (otherwise the fatigue cuts the legs), the little football tragedy is just around the corner. But, if in the Grand Final, it had gone badly mainly due to the veterans, in the following three games, therefore excluding the one on Tuesday, we had seen that more than some of our boys were promising.
Beyond the individual performances, I believe that against England, Italy deserved to win clearly. Just as the tie, in the first leg, with the Germans was a valuable result, obtained by Experimental nationals which, perhaps, will no longer be proposed. I would like to remind you that, before Tuesday, Germany had not yet won, that England have scored two points (and conceded four home goals from Rossi’s Hungary) and that, in their group, the world champions France are last with one point, like Croatia. Other than Final Four (scheduled for Serie A), here there are squadrons that risk Serie B and, despite the experiments, Italy is not among them.
What is happening, then, in Italy and in Europe?
Nothing that was not already known. Many coaches have chosen to test new players, causing the team to lose its cohesion. A lot has been played in a short time (Italy even five games), in the middle of June the physical condition can only be deficient. And this is not only seen in performance, but also in physical recoveries.
To say that Mancini did everything wrong is not right. He saw well by launching Gnonto and trying Gattihe recovered Spinazzola and Barella, Bastoni confirmed, he understood that Scamacca can be the first alternative to Immobile. On Tuesday, against the Germans, the defense was catastrophic (but the non-possession phase was even worse), however two things are certain: Bastoni will be an immovable starter and Mancini, the central, must no longer be called up. Better Acerbi, better Gatti and even better Bonucci, whom we would wholeheartedly thank for his career, but we would leave without delay.
It blows a bad air for Donnarumma, the hero of the European, then awarded by UEFA as the best player of the tournament. Partly because there are incognito Milan fans who do not forgive him for the betrayal, partly because with his feet it is a disaster, partly because the boy has become superb. Mancini has to put him back in line (technical and behavioral), but he can’t lose him. Without Donnarumma, with Germany, we would have taken ten and now we would be talking about the most sensational defeat ever. Therefore, one thing is to encourage him not to be superficial, especially when he plays the ball with his feet, another is to question him.
The problems, we know, lie ahead. If the midfielders do not score, nobody does and Gnonto’s goal, which arrived in a match without history, is the exception that confirms the rule. Mancini is playing with a more vertical Italy because Ciro Immobile will benefit from it, but until it comes back we won’t see any improvements. Having said all this and accepted a hard lesson, Italy is out of the World Cup, but it is not to be redone.
In front of Donnarumma we have a pair of very reliable right-backs (Di Lorenzo and Florenzi), a central with a secure perspective (Bastoni), a racing and quality winger (Spinazzola).
In between it will return Verrattiit will blossom completely Tonali and we will get back the verve of Stretcher. Without to forget Pilgrims, a true all-rounder. In front of Immobile, which is not discussed also because the only alternative is Scamacca, we will see Chiesa and Berardi again. It seems to me a good basis from which to start again. Indeed, I will say more: to try to win the Nations group and give us another final four. Wait for September to believe. Even if nobody believes it today.
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