Italy v Romania – Preview: Azzurri look to bounce back from Belgium defeat
Italy host Romania in a friendly at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna on Tuesday night, a fixture the Azzurri has not lost in over 26 years.
Antonio Conte’s men continue their preparations for next summer’s European Championships having already qualified for the tournament, topping group H in the process. The Azzurri finished four points clear of Croatia in second and ended the group unbeaten. However, they will be looking to bounce back from their 3-1 friendly loss to Belgium on Friday night in Brussels.
Despite taking a third minute lead in the game through an Antonio Candreva goal, the Red Devils equalised thanks to a header from Jan Vertonghen before two second half goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi condemned the Azzurri to their first defeat since losing to Portugal 1-0 in June.
Romania are currently on a 14-match unbeaten run and also qualified for Euro 2016 undefeated after finishing second in group F behind Northern Ireland. With five wins and five draws Anghel Iordanescu’s side had four points to spare over third place Hungary. Finding the net was a problem throughout the campaign though with only 11 goals scored in ten matches.
The real strength of Iordanescu’s side though is their defence. With only two goals conceded in the entire campaign the Eastern Europeans finished Euro 2016 qualifying with the best defensive record with the help of a solid central defensive partnership of Dragos Grigore and Napoli‘s Vlad Chiriches.
It will be five years to the day on Tuesday the last time the two sides met in a 1-1 draw at the Hypo-Arena in Austria. A first half goal by Ciprian Marica gave Romania the lead but eight minutes from time the forward put the ball in his own net to earn the Azzurri a draw.
The two teams have met on 16 occasions overall with Italy winning ten, Romania two and the other four ending in draws. The Tricolorii haven’t beaten the Azzurri since Ioan Sabau scored the winner in a 1-0 victory in March 1989 in a friendly.
The Azzurri are expected to make three changes to the side that lost on Friday, with Davide Astori, Giacomo Bonaventura and Alessio Cerci coming into the side in a 4-3-3 formation.
Form Guide: Italy (W-W-W-W-L) Romania (D-D-D-D-W)
Expected Starting XI’s
Italy : Buffon; Florenzi, Astori, Chiellini, Darmain; Parolo, Marchisio, Bonaventura; Cerci, Pelle, Candreva.
Romania : Tatarusanu; Papp, Chiriches, Grigore, Rat; Pintilii, Hoban; Popa, Budescu, Torje; Stancu.