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Zappacosta vs. Macedonia: Mixed day for Chelsea wing-back as Italy jeered off by fans

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Davide Zappacosta had a rather mixed day at the office on Friday, even if we take into account that the rest of the Italian team were uninspiring and slow and very England-like in many respects. To make matters worse, unlike England, Italy couldn’t eke out the 1-0 victory as many expected, conceding a late second-half equalizer to Macedonia before departing the pitch to a chorus of jeers and discontent from the fans in Turin.

Zappacosta himself wasn’t too pleased with the game either, but with the qualifying playoffs now looming as the only way to Russia 2018, the Chelsea wing-back also urged his international colleagues to not give up just yet.

“When you concede a goal, it means something didn’t work. We put in a good first half performance, but the second was insufficient and unfortunately Macedonia got the equaliser.

“We will analyse this match with the Coach to avoid the same mistakes in future games. There was a setback and jeers are never pleasing, as we’d always want to be supported by our fans, but in this case they were justified.

“Defeats are part of the job, we can’t let our heads drop, just as we mustn’t get too over-enthusiastic after a victory. We must be level-headed in every situation.”

-Davide Zappacosta; TMW Radio via Football Italia

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura is already feeling the heat, just 16 months into the job. In fairness, Conte’s Euro 2016 is a tough act to follow for the journeyman coach, and Italy are technically still unbeaten by all teams other than Spain under his guidance in the qualifiers. But the general expectations in Italy are higher than that.

As far as Zappacosta himself — his day was marked by one terrible miss after a well-timed run and first touch, one crucial interception to keep the play alive that eventually resulted in Italy’s goal, and a bunch of wasted crosses from good positions throughout the match. Credit to him for getting into those good positions and motoring forward with authority, but his accurate boots must’ve been left back in London as he constantly hit his crosses either too long or straight into the defender along the ground on cutbacks and low balls.