After disappointing results for both sides in their respective games last week, Italy and USA will look to bounce back with a friendly contest in Belgium.
Italy ensured they remained in the top tier of the UEFA Nations League with a somewhat disappointing draw against Portugal last week. The Azzurri, however, had the better game against the European champions. The only problem with the Italians was their inefficiency in front of goal when presented with the chances.
As for manager Roberto Mancini, he will be looking to improve on his record with the national side since taking over after the World Cup. In the seven games Italy have played under him, only twice have the team secured wins and only one of those came in a competitive match. Mancini will be looking to change this and improve his record, which has seen the Italians drawing three and losing the other two of the seven games played.
The USA, on the other hand, will be looking to improve their fortunes against the European giants Italy, after losing their game 3-0 against England last week. The US fielded a rather young and inexperienced squad which conceded two quick goals in the first half, as England put the game beyond doubt. More than anything the game against Italy will be considered a valuable lesson for USMNT youngsters to gain further experience internationally.
Team News & Tactics
Roberto Mancini has a lot of concerns before he names his starting lineup against the USA for their friendly game. Ciro Immobile, Giorgio Chiellini, Lorenzo Insigne, Jorginho, and Alessandro Florenzi will all be unavailable for selection for this friendly encounter, with the quintet rejoining their clubs earlier than scheduled.
However, the unavailability of those players should not deter Mancini with his plans, as the Italy head coach would have been expected to name a young squad to gain experience in a friendly game. However, AS Roma midfielder, Lorenzo Pellegrini is also unavailable with a bruised leg.
Mancini is expected to name a squad which might see some new names replace the experienced ones, although the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mattia De Sciglio, Marco Verratti, and Leonardo Bonucci are all expected to take their places alongside the others in an experimental starting lineup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Acerbi, Biraghi; Gagliardini, Verratti, Tonali; Grifo, Pavoletti, Berardi
USA interim coach Dave Sarachan will be ruing the loss against England, but a better performance from his side in the second half will have pleased him. That could also prompt him to stick with many players from that game and allow them to gain more experience against Italy.
As for absentees in the side, Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie returned to Germany for treatment on a troublesome hamstring injury, meaning his absence in the squad will be felt. Fulham midfielder, Luca de la Torre will also be absent from the side as the player decided to stay back in England and train with his club after the 3-0 defeat to the Three Lions.
Sarachan, however, is still expected to name his style of a lineup, which will consist of some of the star names such as Christian Pulisic as well as young guns like Timothy Weah.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Guzan; Yedlin, Miazga, Brooks, Villafana; Pulisic, Trapp, Acosta, Green; Weah, Wood
- Italy and USA have previously met eight times, with the Azzurri tasting defeat only once in those meetings (W5 D3).
- USA’s only victory against Italy came in a friendly back in 2012, which was also the last clash between the two nations.
- Italy have managed to win just one of their last five games (D3 L1).
- The Stars and Stripes have lost three of their last five games, managing to secure just one win in these games (against Mexico in September).
Player to Watch
Pulisic, despite being all of 20, has made a name for himself in club and national colours in a short span. Owing to his creative and explosive displays on both fronts, especially with the US Men’s National Team, many have already primed him for greatness as well as the Stars and Stripes’ great big hope for the future.
Despite USA’s defeat against England, the Borussia Dortmund winger did make an impact on the game with some eye-catching display for his side. Against Italy, he has yet another opportunity to help nurture his teammates and provide the firepower for the USA to gain control of the game.
Italy 2-0 USA
Italy are the clear favorites in this encounter against the USA. Although this game is a friendly, both teams will be looking to put in a competitive performance to gain more experience and dominance over the other. The Azzurri, however, have the more experienced group of the two and that alone will ensure they secure a victory.
But, through players like Pulisic and Weah, USA will look to threaten and make an impact, although the likes of Bonucci and Di Sciglio will be on hand to protect their side’s goal at any cost. Expect Italy to score with comfort, but with the absence of regular attackers, a 2-0 scoreline is the least that is expected from Mancini’s side.