Mancini and Italy face challenge to rebuild ranks

Date:9th August 2022 at 10:14am
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Italian football went through the highs and lows of emotional sport at the highest level over an eight-month period. The Azzurri experienced one of the ultimate joys after beating England in the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium, holding their nerve from the penalty to overcome the Three Lions. However, just months later, the same players endured utter humiliation at the hands of North Macedonia in their World Cup playoff showdown, losing out 1-0 to a stoppage-time goal to end their bid to qualify for Qatar 2022.

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The Azzurri will not compete in the World Cup for the second time in a row, an unprecedented disappointment for Italian football, having only failed to qualify for the World Cup once before 2018, all the way back in 1958. Now they will now have to watch the other leading nations compete, with old foes Brazil being backed in the online betting UK odds as the favourites with France and England also strong contenders. Paddy Power news will detail all the build-up for the competition, where Italy will not be active, which will be welcomed by club managers around the country and the rest of Europe, although not Roberto Mancini.

After guiding Italy to the European Championship, Mancini is now tasked with a major rebuild that focuses on the growing talents of the Italian game. Defensively, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci were standouts in Euro 2022, notably Bonucci, who cancelled out the opener from Luke Shaw in the second half. Chiellini excelled too, but he has now retired from the international game after a distinguished career. At the age of 35, Bonucci is surely not going to be in the plans for the 2026 World Cup, which may force the hand of Mancini to act to look for new players to form a partnership in the heart of the Italy defence.

Players such as Alessio Romagnoli have the chance to force their way into the backline to become potential future champions in the mould of Chiellini and Bonucci, Italy have prided themselves on defensive resilience in the past and the development of the next generation will be crucial to their hopes of avoiding three-straight World Cups without an appearance.

It is also the case in the final third where Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti flattered to deceive. Belotti more so than Immobile as there were high hopes that he could develop into one of the leading strikers in world football. However, he failed to kick on at Torino and at the age of 28 has an uncertain future at the top of the game.

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It has been a problem for Italy to cultivate top-level talent to spearhead their attack. Unless that changes they’re always going to be susceptible in qualifying. The Azzurri need a consistent goalscorer to match the best teams in the world. Brazil, France, England and Argentina are all blessed with potent marksmen in the final third, and although Italy was successful at the Euros, you can only play the way they did in the tournament if you’re watertight at the back. Mancini faces not only a change in personnel, but he may have to adapt his strategy for the future.

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