Italy – Portugal: Mancini’s Italy finally clicks but can’t break down the Portuguese wall (0-0)
Italy’s possession game outplayed a conservative Portugal in the first half thanks to the efforts of the Jorginho-Verratti-Insigne triangle. In the second half, Portugal defended more aggressively to successfully stifle Italy’s attack.
Tactical match report by José Perez.
Roberto Mancini was handed the unenviable task of restoring Italy after their historic failure to quality for the 2018 World Cup. In surprising contrast to his past conservatism, Mancini has opted to rebuild Italy around a philosophy of pressing and possession. This decision is clearly aimed at making the most out of Italy’s most talented players: Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne.
Results are still not going Italy’s way—with only 2 wins in their last 11 games—but at least Mancini seems to be slowly settling into a well-defined starting eleven. Against Portugal, Italy lined up with an almost identical 4-3-3 lineup to the one used last month against Poland.
Gianluigi Donnarumma started at the goal, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini as the veteran center-back pair and Alessandro Florenzi and Cristiano Biraghi as fullbacks. The midfield trio was composed of Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Cagliari’s young talent, Nicolò Barella. The forward line is the only one that saw changes compared to the Poland game: Lorenzo Insigne was moved to the left wing, with Federico Chiesa on the right and Ciro . . .