Italy and the Netherlands are two of the best teams in the UEFA Nations League when it comes to being blessed with technically astute midfielders. However, neither of the teams could impose themselves on one another on Wednesday night as the competition in the middle of the park was fierce.
If there was one player who stood out on the pitch (after Nicolo Barella), it would be Frenkie De Jong. Yet again, the 21-year-old was pulling the strings for the Netherlands and had a major part to play in their equaliser as he strung a line-breaking through pass for Daley Blind who then crossed it into the box to find Donny Van de Beek.
The game commenced in favour of Italy as the Netherlands failed to get any kind of grip on the game. However, Frank de Boer's men grew into the game soon, courtesy of a half chance which Van de Beek blasted into the top corner to get his side level.
A close contested fixture came to an end with both teams taking home a point. On that note, let's take a look at the five talking points from the game on Wednesday.
#5 Lack of natural width evident for the Netherlands
Playing without natural wingers, especially in away games, rarely works in favour of the team. One could argue that the wing-backs do the majority of the job a wide winger does. Unfortunately, the Netherlands are not blessed with the best ones.
Hans Hateboer and Daley Blind are decent players but the role seems to be too huge for them to fit in comfortably. The Netherlands played a 5-3-2 formation as they looked to play on the break at times.
However, without any wide threat for the likes of Danilo D'Ambrosio and Leonardo Spinazzola to deal with, Italy found it extremely easy to contest with the away side's counter-attacks. The game plan was not working for the Netherlands in the first half but Jasper Cillessen's heroics, along with Donny van de Beek's instinctive goal, kept them in the game.
#4 A night of squandered chances for both Italy and Netherlands
If the two teams had excelled at something on Wednesday night, it was at missing chances. It was a bad day at the office for the forwards as they missed 1v1s and free headers. Both teams would go back thinking they deserved or could have achieved more from the game.
Sevilla striker Luuk de Jong must be scratching his head watching his highlights as he missed the best chance of the game; a free header from 10 yards out, which he put horrendously wide.
Italy, on the other hand, had 5 shots on target from 6 attempted in the first half alone. While Jasper Cillessen was the Netherlands' best player, and by some distance, Italy must feel they did not test the 31-year-old enough.
Italy created chances aplenty but the one they scored from was a goal with class written all over it. Lorenzo Pellegrini's goal, after he latched on to Nicolo Barella's defence-splitting pass, was too good to be saved. That was one of the very few times when Italy's forwards tested Cillessen to the core.