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How Roberto Mancini has gradually returned Italy to the pinnacle of European football

Roberto Mancini has led Italy back to the top of European football
Roberto Mancini has led Italy back to the top of European football
ANALYST
Modified 20 Nov 2020, 12:33 IST
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Italy’s status as an elite European team has waned over the last decade. Barring an appearance in the final of Euro 2012, the Azzurri have barely impressed in the tournaments they’ve participated in.

They exited the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups at the group stage, while the team failed to qualify for the 2018 edition in Russia. In the last Euros, too, Italy’s run was halted at the quarter-final stage.

However, a lot has happened in the last two years. The most significant change involved the appointment of Roberto Mancini as head coach of the Azzurri. The former Manchester City manager was appointed Italy coach in 2018 and he is already transforming the team.

For a side that has been uncompetitive for many years now, the 55-year-old has done well to get them challenging at the pinnacle of European football once again.

From under-performers to UEFA Nations League contenders

On Wednesday, the Azzuri coasted to a 2-0 win against Bosnia Herzegovina in the UEFA Nations League to seal a place in the final four. Italy joins Spain, France and Belgium as the teams that will battle it out for the trophy.

Before Roberto Mancini’s appointment, though, such a feat would have sounded unrealistic. However, he has managed to change the mentality of the team and has made them competitive once again.

Italy hasn’t tasted defeat in over two years now. In that period, the team has played 19 games, winning 17 of them and drawing twice. Also, Roberto Mancini’s side has kept 13 clean sheets in this period.

The Azzurri were paired in the same group with Poland and the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League, however, they did not only top the group but also had a better goal difference than the other teams.

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As Andrea Belotti and Domenico Berardi scored in Italy’s last group game against Bosnia Herzegovina, it became evident that Italian football has entered a new era.

New-look Italy ready to take over Europe under Roberto Mancini

This may be a new-look Italian national team, but the amount of talent at Roberto Mancini’s disposal tells us this this group can go far.

Indeed, the 55-year-old has admitted that he faces a selection problem ahead of the Euros next summer.

"Choosing 23 players for the European Championship is going to be a big problem," Mancini said, as quoted by Goal.
"It was already going to be difficult before but in the last four months players are coming through and are proving to be excellent. It is always better to have these problems."

Roberto Mancini has patiently built the team into world beaters and winning the UEFA Nations League will be a deserving reward for the work he’s done over the last two years as Italy coach.

Published 20 Nov 2020, 12:33 IST
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