The 2020 European Championship commences on June 11, 2021 with Italy hosting Turkey in the opening match and Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini had named his 26-man squad for the upcoming tournament on Tuesday.
There were many players that played fundamental roles during the qualifying campaign and have become mainstays of Mancini’s squad, but there were a few selections that left Italian fans perplexed.
Whether it be players out of form being included in the Italy squad at the expense of those with better seasons behind them or footballers being obscure fits for the team, there have been some choices that have clearly divided opinions.
Here are five players that Mancini should have picked for Italy at EURO 2020.
1. Matteo Politano
A right-winger capable of making an impact off the bench, Politano was an impressive performer for Napoli throughout the 2020/21 campaign. Often coming off the bench for Mexican international Hirving Lozano, the 27-year-old scored nine goals and supplied five assists in 37 Serie A matches this season, and some of the goals were quite spectacular too.
His exclusion by Mancini is stunning, especially when a player like Juventus winger Federico Bernardeschi, who failed to score in 39 competitive appearances in 2020/21, was selected instead.
Bernardeschi remarkably plays much better for his country than for his club but it would be far more logical to choose a player based on his club form and then see how well he plays internationally.
Italy do have an abundance of options on the wings for the Euros but Politano had the attributes to be a super-sub for the Azzurri.
2. Alessio Cragno
Roberto Mancini has selected two promising goalkeepers in Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alex Meret for the European Championship as well as the experienced Salvatore Sirigu. Although the 34-year-old has been in previous Euro squads and played at the 2014 World Cup, his form at Torino in 2020/21 was terrible. Sirigu displayed an inability to hold onto the simplest of shots and he would often be exposed by shots at his near post.
A more adequate option in goal based on form is someone like Alessio Cragno from Cagliari. The Isolani remarkably survived relegation thanks to Leonardo Semplici steering the ship after replacing Eusebio Di Francesco as coach and Cragno made his contribution with an abundance of saves. The 26-year-old was the difference between victory and defeat in many games and he also prevented some defeats from being more embarrassing.
Cragno would probably not have played but Italy fans better hope that Sirigu is not called upon. After all, his Torino lost 7-0 to AC Milan late in the 2020/21 Serie A season whereas the Isolani had never conceded as many.