Since beating Albania 1-0 away on October 9, 2017, the Italian national team has won a grand total of one (1) match, a friendly against Saudi Arabia. Their record, starting with the qualifying playoff elimination that caused them miss their first World Cup since 1958, is 10 played, 5 drawn, 4 lost. It’s a shocking run of results for the famous blue shirts of the Azzurri.
On Wednesday, they faced Ukraine (and head coach Andrei Shevchenko!) in a friendly and managed only a 1-1 draw, their fifth match in a row at home without a victory, which they apparently hadn’t done since 1923-1925.
While clearly in a rebuilding phase, Italy were hopeful that a midfield of Jorginho and Marco Verratti, starting together for only the second time ever because of the PSG man’s recent long-term injury, would solve a key problem and allow the team to function a bit better. But while that part of the plan came together well enough, the Azzurri were let down by their finishing.
“Every now and then, they did step on each other’s toes, which is to be expected after only two games together, but overall it was a very good game for 60 minutes. We lost our way a little and with the substitutions it always breaks up the momentum.”
“We need to be more clinical when we have the chance to score, because you win with goals. We struggled enormously to take the lead, despite all the opportunities we created, whereas Ukraine scored at their second shot [...] I’m fed up of not winning and so is everyone. The positive thing is that today the team played good football for long periods.”
-Roberto Mancini; source: Football Italia
That sounds like a familiar story, further underlining the importance of strikers, goals, and a killer instinct.
Italy will eventually get back on the winning trail, but the pressure is starting to build in earnest once again. (Is it time for Conte yet?) There were plenty of jeers in the stadium in Genoa, despite the earlier respectful mood as the match was halted for a minute’s silence in the 43rd minute to remember the 43 who lost their lives and the countless others who were affected by the Ponte Morandi tragedy in August.
(Jorginho played the full 90; Emerson did not play; Zappacosta did not get called up).
It’s a shame because in general this has been an improved Italy performance.— Elio Salerno (@eliosalerno87) October 10, 2018
The combination of Verratti, Jorginho & Barella helped Italy control possession, there was composure to the play.
Insigne, Chiesa & Bernardeschi probed away all night for little return