European champions Italy will lock horns with South American champions Argentina in the Finalissima 2022 at Wembley Stadium this week.

Wednesday night will be a special occasion at Wembley Stadium as two footballing giants in Italy and Argentina square off against each other in the Finalissima 2022, with the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions at stake.

It will just be the third edition of the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions that pits the champions of Europe against the South American champions. Italy qualified for the tie after winning the UEFA Euro 2020 last year, while Argentina made it to the showpiece event by virtue of their Copa America 2021 triumph.

Italy come into the game on the back of a disappointing run that saw them fail to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Roberto Mancini’s side have won just two of their last six games while losing two, which include a crucial World Cup qualifier tie against North Macedonia earlier this year and a semi-final defeat in the UEFA Nations League last October.

Argentina, meanwhile, are on an amazing 31-match unbeaten streak that dates back to July 2019. La Albiceleste have played four games already in 2022, winning three of those (D1), but their most recent clash ended in a 1-1 draw against Ecuador. Having led the national team to a major honour after a long drought, Lionel Scaloni will be hoping to add another trophy to his kitty by winning the Finalissima 2022.

Team News & Tactics

Italy

Italy manager Roberto Mancini has called up a big squad for the Finalissima 2022 that includes as many as 12 uncapped players, such as promising youngsters like Davide Frattesi, Tommaso Pobega, Samuele Ricci, and Federico Gatti, among others. At the same time, the regulars such as Jorginho, Leonardo Bonucci, Marco Verratti and Lorenzi Insigne are all part of the roster.

Ciro Immobile has not been called up by the manager while several other players like Domenico Berardi, Moise Kean, Nicolo Zaniolo and Andrea Pinamonti withdrew from the squad due to injuries. Federico Chiesa is another notable absentee for the Italians. Captain Giorgio Chiellini will be retiring after the game against Argentina on Wednesday. 

The 37-year-old should start at the heart of the Italian defence at Wembley, the site of their Euro triumph last year, with regular partner-in-crime Leonardo Bonucci alongside him. Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Chelsea loanee Emerson Palmieri ought to occupy the full-back slots while Gianluigi Donnarumma guards the goal for the Azzurri.

Mancini is expected to field his preferred central midfield trifecta of Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella on Wednesday. While Jorginho will sit deep and try to control the tempo of the game, Verratti will provide the creative essence, and Barella will add the forward thrust from the centre. Verratti’s link-up with Lorenzo Insigne in the left-side channel could be a key outlet for Italy.

The departing Napoli attacker is a guaranteed starter out wide on the left, while Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod on the right in the absence of Zaniolo and Berardi. Gianluca Scamacca should spearhead the attack for Italy after enjoying a positive season with Sassuolo during which he scored 16 goals.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Bernardeschi, Scamacca, Insigne

Argentina

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has also handed a call-up to a couple of uncapped players in Nehuen Perez and Marcos Senesi. Leandro Paredes, Lucas Perez, Nicolas Dominguez, Lucas Alario and Emiliano Buendia have been cut from the preliminary squad that the head coach had initially named.

Much like Italy, Argentina are also likely to set up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez lining up between the sticks. Nahuel Molina, who is a transfer target for Arsenal, should start at right-back while Marcos Acuna should pip Nicolas Tagliafico to the starting berth on the left side. Cristian Romero and Nicolas Otamendi ought to form the centre-back pairing.

Guido Rodriguez, coming on the back of a successful campaign with Real Betis during which they won the Copa del Rey, should hold down the fort in the centre of the park and look to keep a lid on Nicolo Barella’s output. He will have support from Rodrigo De Paul, who will provide a box-to-box presence for the Argentines. Giovani Lo Celso will provide the creative element from the third spot in midfield.

In attack, there is no looking past captain and superstar Lionel Messi on the right flank from where he will constantly drift in centrally and look to make things happen in the final third. Angel Di Maria, who has announced that he will be retiring after the World Cup later this year, should take up the left flank and act as a chance-creator for lone striker Lautaro Martinez.

Julian Alvarez, who has been in red-hot form for River Plate recently, will be an option from the bench along with Paulo Dybala, Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; De Paul, Rodriguez, Lo Celso; Messi, Lautaro, Di Maria

Key Stats

  • Argentina are currently on a 31-game unbeaten run. The last time they lost a match was against Brazil in the 2019 Copa America.
  • Italy have a record of two wins, two losses and two draws each in their previous six games.
  • Giorgio Chiellini will be making his final appearance for Italy on Wednesday. With this game, he will be earning his 117th cap for the Azzurri, going level with Daniele De Rossi as the fourth-most capped player for the nation.
  • Lionel Messi is the highest appearance-maker for Argentina, with 160 caps to his name. The Albiceleste captain is their all-time leading goalscorer as well, with 81 strikes.
  • Argentina have kept three clean sheets in their last five matches, while Italy have managed just one shut-out in their previous five games.

Player to Watch

Giorgio Chiellini

It has been a glorious international career for Giorgio Chiellini with Italy. The 37-year-old has been a fantastic servant for the Azzurri and has led the team with distinction each time he has stepped out on the field and captained the side. Having helped the team win the UEFA Euro 2020 last year, the legendary defender will be hoping to keep Lionel Messi quiet and sign off on his international career with another trophy.

Prediction

Italy 0-2 Argentina

Italy have not been in the best form since their UEFA Euro 2020 triumph last year. And they will be going into this game without their two regular attackers in Ciro Immobile and Federico Chiesa. Meanwhile, Argentina have not lost a game in almost three years and have plenty of quality on the pitch and off the bench if needed. 

Given their superior form in recent games and the overall depth in terms of quality in the roster, they should be able to lift the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions by winning the Finalissima 2022 at Wembley Stadium.

Leave A Comment...

*