After Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, first time since 1958 for the 4 time winners and a shameful moment for Calcio(Italian Football), the Italian Olympic committee reacted by appointing two high commissioners to do an in depth review of the Italian Football Federation(FIGC) and what went wrong. One of them was the legendary Ex Milan center back Alessandro Costacurta. He re watched Italy’s ill fated world cup qualifying draw with Sweden, the very game which condemned the Italians to their disqualification. Along with Roberto Mancini, the ex Manchester City and Internazionale Milan manager, Costacurta concluded Italy were playing too defensive form of Calcio(Football) even singling out the two Italian strikers Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile for playing too deep in their own halves. Costacurta wanted Azzuri(Italy) to play with no fear, with directness and taking the game to their opponents. He mentioned all his observations and wishes to Mancini who simply replied “You have come to the right man.”
The new Man at the helm
Mancini was not Costacurta’s first choice to play fast, flamboyant football, but his appointment has proven to be a masterstroke who immediately took over from Gian Piero Ventura in 2018. Mancini has predominantly played a 4-3-3 formation. Building his team around the core of Lorenzo Insigne, Marco Verratti and Jorginho. Mancini has done a fantastic job of rebuilding, handing out 35 debuts. He has aptly integrated the country’s exciting upcoming young players like Federico Chiesa, Alessandro Bastoni, Manuel Locatelli, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Niccolo Barella, Giacomo Raspadori with seasoned veterans like Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Ciro Immobile. Italy waltzed through the Euro qualifiers without conceding many goals. This Italian squad has included many players from mid to lower Serie A table clubs like Sassuolo, Torino and Fiorentina, a testament to the manager’s approach. He has got them playing exciting, attractive football which is a radical shift from the country’s famed ‘Catenaccio’ defensive tactics. Italy scored 7 goals without conceding any in this summer’s Euro group stages and after beating Austria, Belgium and Spain are in the final which will be played on 12th July.
Italy qualified for the Euros with 3 games to spare and will be playing the final 4 of the nations league in October. Italy went from being the 21st ranked country in FIFA world rankings to 7th under Mancini’s watch. They are on a fiery 33 match unbeaten streak counting all qualifiers. The Euro Final appearance is the culmination of Mancini’s fine work with the Azzuri.
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