Time helps to forget trauma and four years have passed since Italy was eliminated from the 2018 World Cup qualification. The accident against Sweden in November 2017, when the Nordic team left the azzurra without a world championship for the first time in history, has made the team not contest an international weight trophy since Euro 2016. The desire, the good performance of Roberto Mancini’s team in recent times and a collective euphoria throughout The country, due to the good progress of the reopening, have generated a climate of optimism about what the Nazionale can achieve in a championship that it has not won since 1968. This Friday (9pm, Telecinco) it debuts against Turkey.
The feeling is that the team works and that it is the undisputed favorite of an affordable group: Switzerland, Turkey and Wales. Mancini has managed to mix young talent with some veterans like Bonucci, Chellini, Verratti or Immobile. There are no big stars, perhaps Lorenzo Insigne (Naples), with 10 on his back, is the most significant. And the traditional idea of the one-team bloc that makes up the national team has been shattered: last Tuesday against the Czech Republic 17 players from 10 different clubs played. Today teams like Sassuolo, who have made a great commitment to national talent in the team that Roberto De Zerbi has led in recent seasons, outweigh the big teams.
Italy has been undefeated for 27 games and hasn’t conceded a single goal in eight games. It is true that the duels played were not of a very high level, but on the eve of a competition of this type things used to be much worse: in the offices or in the training field. “Italia Rock,” he titled on Wednesday Il Corriere della Sera.
Mancini, who during his time as a player never shone especially in the national team – in the 1990 World Cup he did not play for a minute – is the irreplaceable leader of the team. An effective and discreet coach who has managed to be at peace with everyone in a highly flammable federation and environment. He was called up after the World Cup elimination disaster to replace Gian Piero Ventura. It has been three years now. And now he has just renewed the contract until 2024, so he will be in the next World Cup and, at least, also in the next qualifying round for the next European Championship.
Italy now plays an offensive game, often 4-3-3, something unusual compared to its long defensive tradition. Mancini does not have an unmistakable style, but he is not dogmatic and knows how to adapt to the players he has, as he did when he won with Inter three scudetti followed. High pressure that starts with forwards like Insigne and Immobile. Bellotti, the top scorer of this selection, starts somewhat behind the others. And Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo) will also have minutes, who has scored against all the greats of Serie A and in whom many, including Mancini himself, see the new Paolo Rossi for his tremendous effectiveness.
The key to this new Italy is through the midfield and through the mental and playing speed of the Italian-Brazilian Jorginho (Chelsea). The player is in a state of grace and very confident after winning the Champions League with the London team a few weeks ago. He is accompanied by Verratti, who is suffering from injury and will not be able to be in the first game against Turkey. His place could be taken by Locatelli, one of the stars of Sassuolo, who is negotiating his signing for Juventus these days.
The Nazionale’s chances are reduced if one looks at the level of teams like France, Germany or England. But the mood regarding the national confusion generated in November 2017 is completely different. The only doubt is whether the optimism that has already occurred on other occasions – in South Africa 2010 with Marcello Lippi, or with Cesare Prandelli in Brazil 2014 – is the best travel companion for an Italy that has always achieved important things when all the elements played. against him.