Roberto Mancini will hope to pass the test of tough fixtures ahead as Italy face a rejuvenated Germany managed by Hansi Flick.
It has been a contrasting period in Italian football, with the Azzurri first revelling in their success after winning the UEFA Euro 2020 then disappointing their fans by not qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Consistency is not necessarily an issue as Italy have been one of the most consistent national sides in Europe since Roberto Mancini took over.
However, a few bad results and dropped points were only good enough to take them into the World Cup qualifying play-offs. At this stage, they shocked their fans by losing to North Macedonia and missing out on the plane to Qatar for the World Cup.
Mancini has a big task at hand, as he has stayed on despite many seeking his resignation. The supposed new era already began with a 3-0 loss to Argentina in the Finalissima, and the next one, coming shortly against Germany, is not the ideal start for the Azzurri this summer. Add the forthcoming England and Hungary games into the mix, and Italy are in for a big test of character.
Italy’s opponents, Germany, come into this fixture in a different state of mind. In the aftermath of their Round of 16 exit from the Euros, Hansi Flick took over and will be hoping to set things straight before they fly out to Qatar later this year.
On their way to the World Cup in the Middle East, Flick led the side to nine wins in ten qualification games, making them one of the best teams in Europe based on their form. However, Germany have not faced a team ranked in FIFA’s top ten, with the clash with the Netherlands in March the only exception.
Germany have not been at their stable best since their 2014 World Cup triumph, where Flick was a part of Joachim Low’s caching setup. The former Bayern Munich boss has a big task at hand: firstly, keeping the team happy and confident; and making a big push to triumph in Qatar.
The UEFA Nations League might have sounded like a pointless tournament at the end of a gruelling season. Still, the games against Italy, England and Hungary represent a solid challenge for the former world champions. However, Germany will have to keep their focus on matters at hand for now.
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— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) June 3, 2022
The Finalissma was the last ever game played by veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini, who called time on his international career. Following that loss to Argentina, Roberto Mancini has sent three players back home. Salvatore Sirigu, Mattia Zaccagni and Manuel Lazzari have all returned.
Those three were predictably not starters, but there could be changes to the side that got beaten by Argentina. Others such as Federico Bernardeschi, Marco Verratti, Jorginho, Lorenzo Insigne and Emerson Palmieri were also released due to injury problems.
Meanwhile, Leonardo Spinazzola, who returned to action against Argentina after his serious injury last year at UEFA Euro 2020, may not be risked in a short space of time. Cristiano Biraghi could be the player to replace him at left-back. In Jorginho’s midfield spot, Davide Frattesi could come in to replace the Chelsea star.
Mancini could continue with his 4-3-3 shape with Alessandro Bastoni the likely replacement for the now-retired Chiellini. AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali could also have a place with Nicolo Barella. A front three of Gianluca Scamacca, Matteo Politano and Ciro Immobile could be Mancini’s answer against Germany.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Bastoni, Biraghi; Fratessi, Tonali, Barella; Politano, Scamacca, Immobile
Hansi Flick could use the UEFA Nations League to continue experimenting with his squad, and there could be opportunities for many of his untested players. The likes Nico Schlotterbeck and Jamal Musiala could get starts, while there could be a place for Karim Adeyemi up front in place of Timo Werner.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 3, 2022
New Real Madrid centre-back Antonio Rudiger should pair up with Schlotterbeck at the heart of Germany’s defence, while Thilo Kehrer should be the preferred option at right-back. There is a battle for the goalkeeping spot, with Kevin Trapp impressing at Eintracht Frankfurt, but Manuel Neuer will keep his place between the posts.
Joshua Kimmich and Jamal Musiala could be preferred in central midfield, although Flick has the experienced options of Ilkay Gundogan or Leon Goretzka. The idea would be to experiment with the Bayern Munich youngster.
Thomas Muller is retain and reprise to keep his usual role behind the striker. Adeyemi will likely lead the line for Germany while being flanked by Bayern Munich duo Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane on either side.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kehrer, Schlotterbeck, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Musiala; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Adeyemi
- Italy have beaten Germany just once in their last six meetings, including friendlies, while losing once.
- Since their UEFA Euro 2012 semi-final win, Italy have not beaten Germany, with Mario Balotelli scoring the goals.
- Germany have been unbeaten against Italy in their last four games.
- Germany have played just one team (Netherlands) among FIFA’s top ten since they started playing under Hansi Flick.
- Thomas Muller is Germany’s most capped player in the current squad with 112.
Player To Watch
Gnabry could look forward to this international break after a good season under his belt at Bayern Munich. He has been a consistent force for Germany and will be eager to prove to his club that a new, hefty contract would be worth their while.
Gnabry has seven goal involvements in recent fixtures for the national side, scoring five and setting up two. The winger will be crucial to their chances in the UEFA Nations League and at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, provided he keeps his tempo and intensity intact later this year.
Italy 0-2 Germany
Italy are still finding their feet after being rattled by North Macedonia, as they continue to suffer aftershocks of their failure to qualify for Qatar 2022. Roberto Mancini’s idea of bringing about a new era has already suffered a setback against Argentina, and the upcoming fixtures against Germany, England and Hungary may not give the Azzurri any respite.
On the other hand, Germany are looking to stabilise their squad and have plenty of quality deemed enough to succeed on all fronts. Hansi Flick will put out a strong side, which should easily overcome the Italians in this Nations League opener.