Italy will aim to keep the winning momentum going when they take on Liechtenstein at Rheinpark Stadion in a Group J tie on Tuesday.
The commitments in the international break are at an end. As for the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, Matchday 8 will culminate on Tuesday. In Group J, it will be top versus rock-bottom, as Italy travel to Vaduz to face off against Lichtenstein at Rheinpark Stadion.
Liechtenstein have unsurprisingly been the bottom-feeders in Group J, having failed to win a single game after the first seven round of fixtures. The Blue-Reds have managed to rack up just two points and stand no chance of qualifying for next summer’s European Championships, as a result.
Italy, on the other hand, have breezed through the qualification process for the 2020 UEFA Euro, winning each of their first seven games to book their place at the blockbuster event. The upcoming games now give Roberto Mancini the opportunity to identify his strongest squad for the tournament next year.
The reverse fixture, played in Parma back in March, ended in a 6-0 rout of Lichtenstein, with Fabio Quagliarella among the scorers for Italy. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Helgi Kolvidsson ditched his trusted 4-1-4-1 formation against Armenia and the change reaped dividends for Liechtenstein. Against Italy, Kolvidsson is likely to stick with the new 3-4-1-2 formation so as to add more men in behind the ball.
Benjamin Buchel is expected to take his place in goal for the hosts ahead of the uncapped duo of Lorenzo Lo Russo and Claudio Majer. In the three-man central defensive unit, Andreas Malin, Daniel Kaufmann and Maximilian Goppel are the automatic picks; Kaufmann will be eager to make amends after being sent off last time out against Italy.
Martin Rechsteiner, one of the most experienced players in the squad, will reprise the right wing-back role, with Livio Meier being deployed on the opposite flank. In the middle of the park, Martin Buchel and Lichtenstein captain Michele Polverino will combine, looking to keep things tight and stifle the Italy attack.
Yanik Frick could get a chance to impress after coming off the bench to score the equaliser against Armenia. Frick will be Dennis Salanovic’s strike partner, with Nicolas Hasler playing off the duo and setting them up on the night.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Benjamin Buchel; Malin, Kaufmann, Goppel; Rechsteiner, Martin Buchel, Polverino, Meier; Hasler; Salanovic, Yanik Frick
Roberto Mancini was already without Alessandro Florenzi for the trip to Liechstenstein. The Italy head coach will now also be bereft of the services of Danilo D’Ambrosio due to a minor foot injury that has forced him to withdraw from the squad.
With the duo out injured, Armando Izzo could return to the starting lineup, lining up on the right side of Italy’s defence. Like Izzo, Mancini might also hand chances to plenty of fringe players, with Cristiano Biraghi and Alessio Romagnoli both in contention to start at the back.
Indeed, Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci might be the only defender to retain his spot, with Romagnoli being his central defensive partner. Alex Meret, too, could come into the side, making his Italy debut in the process against Liechtenstein.
Another player likely to be handed his debut by Mancini on Tuesday is promising midfielder Sandro Tonali, who should sit at the base of the three-man midfield unit. Marco Verratti ought to be the experienced head in the middle of the park, with Nicolo Zaniolo being handed the third berth in midfield.
Andrea Belotti should come into the side in place of Ciro Immobile, and lead the line for Italy. Belotti will likely be flanked by Federico Bernardeschi, one of the goalscorers last week, and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Izzo, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Biraghi; Zaniolo, Tonali, Verratti; Bernardeschi, Belotti, El Shaarawy
- This will only be the fourth-ever meeting between Italy and Liechtenstein. The Azzurri have won each of the last three encounters with an aggregate scoreline of 15-0.
- Italy are one of only two teams with a perfect record in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers; the other team being Belgium with eight wins in eight.
- Liechtenstein are without a win in their last 11 fixtures in all competitions, a run stretching back September last year.
- The Blue-Reds, though, have drawn each of their last two games, which means they are on their longest unbeaten run in over eight years.
- Italy have won eight matches in a row in all competitions. Only once have the Azzurri won more consecutive games, under Vittorio Pozzo several decades ago (9).
Player to Watch
With qualification for the UEFA Euro 2020 secured, Roberto Mancini could give chances to a few youngsters who are raring to have a go in international football. Sandro Tonali is one such player.
Having already made waves at club level, the talented midfielder has been primed for big things for the national team as well. A game against lowly Liechtenstein is, therefore, as simple an initiation into international football as it can get for Tonali. A big day beckons for the teenage prodigy.
Lichtenstein 0-3 Italy
Roberto Mancini might ring in the changes for his team’s latest fixture. But, Italy would still be too strong for Lichtenstein, despite the confidence derived by the hosts during their mini unbeaten run. The Hard Tackle predicts a run-of-the-mill 3-0 win for the visitors, thereby continuing their perfect record at the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers.