Federico Chiesa was a clear standout while the rest of the players blew hot and cold as Italy were held to a 1-1 draw by Bulgaria on Thursday.
Italy dominated the proceedings from start to finish, with Bulgaria only really managing to string together a couple of decent moves. One of those saw them score the equaliser with a well worked move whereas Gianluigi Donnarumma was at hand to deny Petko Hristov.
On the opposite end, Italy created waves of attacking moves only to be denied time and again by a resolute Georgi Georgiev. Indeed, the only time the Bulgarian goalkeeper was beaten was when Federico Chiesa produced a peach of a finish to hand Italy the lead midway through the first half.
So, despite their dominance, the hosts had to settle for a solitary point at the Artemio Franchi Stadium. Despite the frustrating result, the Azzurri are now just one win or draw away from breaking the record for the longest ever unbeaten run in international football history, having equalled the record with their 35th such result. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Roberto Mancini’s men.
Italy are one win away from surpassing Brazil (1993-1996) and Spain (2007-2009) for the longest unbeaten streak in international football history 🤩🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/Li3g9Sbz8H
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) September 2, 2021
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 6/10
A quiet outing for Donnarumma, who did more work with his feet than with his gloves on the day. In fact, the Italy no. 1 had just one save to make all game, which he did without a fuss. However, he was well beaten by Atanas Iliev for the goal that Bulgaria scored. Hardly misplaced a pass when playing out from the back.
Alessandro Florenzi: 5/10
A game to forget for Florenzi, who carried no threat whatsoever in the final third while also being troubled a fair bit at the back. One such moment saw him giving too much space to Kiril Despodov, who gleefully accepted the time and space before setting up Iliev for the equaliser. Has to do better.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
A solid enough performance by Bonucci, whose rating is docked by a point only because he was pulled out of position in the build-up to the goal that Bulgaria scored, although that was Florenzi’s doing in part as well. Otherwise, there was no way past the Italy skipper, who won seven duels while making three interceptions and two tackles.
Francesco Acerbi: 6/10
Much like Bonucci, Acerbi was a solid presence at the heart of Italy’s defence. The 33-year-old was a busy customer on Thursday, winning nine duels while completing three clearances. On the ball, he was as reliable as ever, completing 97 of the 100 passes he attempted, thereby facilitating an efficient build-up play.
Emerson Palmieri: 7/10
One of the better performers for Italy. Emerson was a constant outlet down the left flank and played a couple of key passes as well. His creative outlook did mean that his passing rate fell to around 79 percent, but the 27-year-old made up for it with some solid defensive work.
Nicolo Barella: 7/10
Barella was as Barella usually is on his best day, cutting through the lines and setting up chances. The Inter Milan playmaker played three key passes while retaining a solid passing rate of 87 percent. Put in the hard yards off the ball as well, completing four tackles in the process.
Jorginho was the reason why Italy were in control all throughout. In fact, the newly crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year pulled the strings effortlessly while also playing as many as four key passes all while retaining a pass completion rate of 91 percent. Alas, his dominance in the middle did not translate into a positive result for Italy.
Marco Verratti: 7/10
Verratti, like Jorginho and Barella was a key figure in the middle of the park for Italy, barely putting a foot wrong. The 28-year-old completed 92 percent of his 110 attempted passes while playing three key passes. As ever, he was also at hand to put in a shift defensively, completing three tackles.
Federico Chiesa: 8/10
Quite easily the standout performer in the game, Chiesa was a relentless performer in the final third and was denied multiple times by Georgi Georgiev. And all through the night, Chiesa tormented Bulgaria left-back Anton Nedyalkov while playing three key passes as well. The cherry on top was his sumptuous finish for the opener.
Federico Chiesa stats v Bulgaria:
▫️4/13 Ground duels won
▫️3/6 Successful dribbles
▫️2/6 Shots on target
▫️3 Key passes
— Max Aimé-Thierry (@maxaimethierry) September 2, 2021
Ciro Immobile: 6/10
Immobile was involved in the build-up to the Italy goal, as his give-and-go with Chiesa created the space for the Juventus winger to score. Otherwise, though, the experienced striker endured a rather frustrating evening, as his three shots on target were well saved by Georgiev. He was a tad-bit wasteful on the ball as well and ought to have held it up better.
Lorenzo Insigne: 7/10
As busy as ever, Insigne was a key outlet on the left flank for Italy and played a couple of key passes to boot. Also aimed as many as five shots on goal, two of which were saved by the stubborn Bulgaria goalkeeper. Just did not happen for him.
Bryan Cristante: 6/10
On for Barella, Cristante oddly saw very little of the ball even as Italy continued to dominate. Got just 16 touches on the ball, although he did complete all but one of his attempted passes. Needs some target practice, as each of his shots were off target.
Rafael Toloi: 6/10
On for Florenzi, Toloi not tested at all at the back, but he did prove to be a better outlet than the man he replaced in the final third. Completed 96 percent of his passes, although he did not play a key pass either.
Domenico Berardi: N/A
On for Insigne, Berardi settled on the right wing but could not make enough impact to inspire a winner.
Giacomo Raspodori: N/A
On for Immobile, Raspadori barely saw the ball in his 15 minutes on the pitch.
Lorenzo Pellegrini: N/A
A late introduction, Pellegrini barely had any time to make an impact.