Moldova will travel to the Stadio Artemio Franchi to take on Italy, who are unbeaten in two years, in an international friendly.

Dread it, run from it, the international break still arrives.

After a month of thrilling and chaotic club football, the world of football is set to welcome its first break that comes in the form of two weeks of international football which will mix qualifiers and friendly games.

Italy will be one of the teams responsible for kicking off this halt, as they host Moldova at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, Italy. The Azzurri are unbeaten in over two years of international games, with their last loss coming at the hands of Portugal in the UEFA Nations League group stages. Their previous outing involved a trip to Amsterdam when they faced and won against the Netherlands.

Mancini has done an incredible job turning the Italian National Team around. (Photo by Filippo Alfero/Getty Images)

Mancini has done an incredible job turning the Italian National Team around. (Photo by Filippo Alfero/Getty Images)

Moldova, on the other hand, have failed to win any of their games in over a year in a streak which includes nine losses and one draw. The last time they registered a victory was against Andorra in the European Championship Qualification group courtesy of an early goal from Igor Armas. On Wednesday, they face 12th ranked Italy away from home in a game that is expected to extend both streaks.

The last time these two came across each other was back in October 2005, during the 2006 World Cup qualifiers. Italy won the game 2-1 in their stadium, and 1-0 at Moldova’s. Ahead of their latest meeting, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Italy

There are a few regulars missing this time in Italy’s squad compared to their last international outing. These come in the form of the Napoli trio Lorenzo Insigne, Alex Meret and Giovanni di Lorenzo, who are missing due to coronavirus protocols. The Juventus contingent in the squad may also have to withdraw for similar reasons.

On the contrary, Marco Verratti has returned to the squad after recovering from injury. He will start in the midfield, aided by Jorginho and Nicolo Barella. Stefano Sensi is in contention to start as well but is expected to come off the bench to see the game out.

We expect Roberto Mancini to make the best use of his extended 34-man squad, and make some changes in the attack, with Domenico Berardi on the right flank. The Sassuolo winger will take on the creative duties in the attack, while Ciro Immobile takes on the goalscoring charge through the centre. Stephan El Shaarawy will occupy the slot on the left.

The defence is expected to see some changes as well, starting with centre-halves. Francesco Acerbi will start the game as one half of the duo, partnering Angelo Ogbonna, who gets a chance to earn some rare caps in the absence of multiple first choice regulars.

Leonardo Spinazzola enjoyed an impressive ending to the previous season at AS Roma. He will take responsibility in the left-back role, while Manuel Lazzari will be given the same position on the opposite flank. This back-four will shield Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Lazzari, Ogbonna, Acerbi, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Berardi, Immobile, El Shaarawy

Moldova

There are 163 countries that separate Italy from Moldova in the FIFA World Rankings, and the fact that Moldova will have to travel to Florence does not help their case, either. They will have to sit back, instilling a low-block against a very attacking opposition, hoping that a turnover helps them gain something in the middle of the park.

There are several regulars missing for Italy, but that will not help Moldova's case. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

There are several regulars missing for Italy, but that will not help Moldova’s case. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

We do not expect manager Engin Farat to make many changes to the team that started against Slovenia in the UEFA Nations League group stages in September this year. Alexei Koselev put on a stellar display in the game, making five saves, and will start in goal.

Koselev will be guarded by a swarm of defenders shaped in a 5-3-2. The five-man defence will consist of three centre-backs in the form of Victor Mudrac, Veaceslav Posmac and goalscorer from their last victory from one year ago – Igor Armas. The FC Voluntari centre-half will also be handed the captain’s armband.

Sergiu Platica and Oleg Reabciuk will provide width from the back and will look to join the attack as many times as possible as the only wide players in the setup. Their motive will be to get to the byline and cross into the box, where Mihail Caimacov and Vitalie Damascan will be waiting to tuck the ball into the net.

In midfield, Catalin Carp will start as the deepest of the three midfielders in the screening role, while Vadim Rata and Artur Ionita start as the no. 8s on his right and left respectively. Rata is the only creative presence in this team and will hope to thread a pass or two that breaches that famously strict Italian defence.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Koselev; Platica, Mudrac, Posmac, Armas, Reabciuk; Rata, Carp, Ionita; Damascan, Caimacov

Key Stats

  • Italy and Moldova have met only twice in the past, with both victories going in favour of Italy.
  • Italy are unbeaten in their last 16 games, a run that started with a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in October 2018.
  • Moldova have not won any of their last 10 games, losing nine of them.
  • Moldova are without a clean sheet in the last 10 games. Their last clean sheet came in a 1-0 win against Andorra.
  • Roberto Mancini has been manager of Italy for 21 games now, winning 14, and losing just two.

Player to Watch

Ciro Immobile

One of the best in the world. (Photo courtesy - Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

One of the best in the world. (Photo courtesy – Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Who else can you look towards when you have one of the, if not the best strikers on the pitch with you. Ciro Immobile ended last season in incredible fashion, scoring 36 goals and registering nine assists in 37 appearances for Lazio.

This gargantuan tally helped the Italian win the Golden Boot ahead of regular contenders like Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. While it is safe to say his goalscoring record for the Azzurri is not the best, he is still the best guess in the team to bulge the back of the net.

Prediction

Italy 4-0 Moldova

It is hard to see this game tipping any other way, even if Roberto Mancini completely neglects his spectacles. The Azzurri have not looked this fresh since the 2012 European Championship, with the likes of Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, and Ciro Immobile leading their charge towards the Euros next year, where they enter as one of the favourites.

As for Moldova, it will be a good game to have a run-out and rotate, as they continue to search for the win that will end their horrid run of form. The Hard Tackle expects the Azzurri to romp home to a resounding 4-0 victory.

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