Italy’s Strengths, Weaknesses & How They’ll Fare at Euro 2020

Having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy completed a remarkable turnaround by qualifying for Euro 2020 in style, winning 10 out of their 10 qualifiers and scoring 37 goals as they comfortably topped their group. 

The Azzurri’s preparation for this summer’s tournament has been relatively smooth, and Roberto Mancini’s side are unbeaten in their last 14 since losing to Portugal in the Nations League back in September 2018.​

Beaten finalists in 2012, Italy have been drawn with Turkey, Wales and Switzerland in Group A. Here, 90min assesses their key strengths and weaknesses, and predicts how far they will go at this summer’s European Championships.


Strengths

Sandro Tonali,Nicolo Barella,Federico Chiesa

​This is one of the youngest, most exciting Italian teams for years. While at previous tournaments, the old guard had outstayed their welcome, this is an Italy team characterised by a fearlessness of youth. 

​Milan’s 20-year-old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma could start between the sticks for the Azzurri, 22-year-old midfielder Nicolo Barella has been a revelation for ​Inter this season, and 19-year-old Sandro Tonali’s intelligence and composure make him a hugely competent understudy – and maybe more – for Jorginho. 

These youngsters are a refreshing change from the experienced heads who have largely underwhelmed on the international stage since their 2006 World Cup triumph.

Ciro Immobile

Having hit an average of 3.7 goals per game in qualifying – albeit including a 9-1 thrashing of lowly Armenia – the Italians are not short of firepower up top too. Striker Ciro Immobile is the top scorer in Serie A by some distance this season, recording Messi and Ronaldo-esque scoring stats, with 23 goals in just 20 appearances. 

However, despite his proficiency in front of goal, Immobile has not been a regular starter for his country, with Torino captain Andrea Belotti often favoured up front, demonstrating just how spoilt for choice Roberto Mancini is with attacking options.

Italy are a nation previously stereotyped for being defensive and boring. Mancini has maintained the defensive solidity, conceding just four times in qualifying, but has done so while simultaneously adding attacking flair.


Weaknesses

FBL-EUR-EURO-2020-DRAW

The natural downside to a team brimming with youth is a lack of experience. Such has been the transition within the Italian national side since the country’s last appearance at an international tournament back at Euro 2016, that nearly two thirds of the squad that reached the quarter finals in France are now no longer in the international fold.

This leaves a number of players heading to Euro 2020 for their maiden international tournament. ​Could the big stage get the better of some of Italy’s talented youngsters?

Despite being such an exciting side and boasting a wealth of attacking options, Italy had a habit of being wasteful in front of goal during qualifying. Despite dominating possession and having a staggering 25 shots during their crucial qualifier against Finland, Roberto Mancini’s side required a Jorginho penalty to seal the three points. 

Jorginho

Similarly against 10-man Armenia, the Italians had 74% of the ball and 17 shots. However, only six of these shots were on target, and it was an 80th minute own goal that finally assured them of victory. 

There were signs that the tides were changing in Italy’s most recent qualifiers against Armenia – a 9-1 thrashing – and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Azzurri found the net from three of their seven shots on target. However, against the top teams in Europe at Euro 2020, Italy are unlikely to be presented with as many opportunities to hit the target, and will have to make it count when they do.


Predictions

Jorginho

​Italy should progress from their group, and will be favourites to go through as group winners. However, Wales are an ever improving side who can cause all sorts of problems when Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are fit, and Switzerland are a very good team on their day, who will also be considered dark horses to go deep in the tournament.

Despite three tough group fixtures, Italy should make it through to the knockout stages unscathed. Roberto Mancini’s side will be considered dark horses for the tournament, but this slight underdog status could work in their favour, and the Italians are a good bet to make the semi finals.

90min’s Euro 2020 prediction: Semi finalists. 


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