UEFA Nations League 2018/19: Can Roberto Mancini revitalise Italy against Poland?
Roberto Mancini, former Manchester City and Inter Milan manager, will lead the Italian in their UEFA Nations League opener against Poland in Stadio Renato Dall'Ara in Bologna, the same place where he made his début at 16-years-old. It will also be his first competitive match as the head manager after taking over from Luigi Di Biagio. Ahead of the clash, Roberto Mancini said: "Poland has been a great team and though they didn't excel much in the World Cup, however, we are ready to give our best and take the three points."
While on the other side, it will also be the first game for the newly-appointed Poland head coach, Jerzy Brzęczek, who says that: "It will be a tough game against the football giant... but also a chance to test his players as he never saw Poland playing any friendly as often with big teams".
Match Overview: Italy vs. Poland
Italy, who failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, would be desperate for a win against Poland, who have not been at their best, especially in the last World Cup where they saw their early exit in the group stages.
It will also be a test for Italy as their squad is a mixture of young and experienced players such as Chiellini, Bonucci, Jorginho and Mario Balotelli. Meanwhile Poland will depend on its captain and striker Lewandowski, Milik and Fabianski.
The last meeting between the two teams was in a World Cup semi-final where Italy won the match by two goals to nil.
Italy was the winner of Euro 1968, while bagging the silver twice in 2000 and 2012. Poland reached the quarter-final in Euro 2016.
Italy has an impressive home record against Poland where they have 3 wins and 1 loss.
Both the teams lost in the quarter-final of Euro 2016 in penalties.
Italy leads Poland in the head-to-head record as they have won 5 and lost only 3 times out of the 14 games between the two nations.
Poland will be without Lukasz Piszczek after his retirement from international duty. Around eight players of Poland are playing in the Serie A which may prove to be an advantage to them against the Azzurri.
Italy will depend on the likes of Napoli's striker Lorenzo Insigne and Juventus Federico Bernadeschi, who will aid Mario Balotelli on the front line.
Italy in their last five games has only one win against Saudi Arabia while having two losses against France and Argentina and two draws against Netherlands and England. The Azzurri has conceded eight goals and scored five goals.
Poland on their last five games has two wins against Japan and Lithuania and two losses against Colombia and Senegal while one draw against Chile. Poland has seven conceded goals and scored seven goals.
Predicted Line Up
Italy (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Zappacosta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito; Benassi, Jorginho, Pellegrini; Chiesa, Balotelli, Insigne
Coach: Robert Mancini.
Poland (4-3-3): Fabiański; Bereszyński, Glik, Kamiński, Reca; Błaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Zieliński, Kurzawa; Milik, Lewandowski.
Coach: Jerzy Brzęczek.