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UEFA Nations League, Italy 0-0 Portugal: 5 Talking Points

Sachin Bhat
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
2.70K   //    18 Nov 2018, 16:18 IST

Italy 0-0 Portugal: Seleccao into the knockout rounds
Italy 0-0 Portugal: Seleccao into the knockout rounds

Portugal became the first side from Group A to qualify for the UEFA Nations League knockout rounds after a goalless stalemate with Italy at San Siro.

The Azzurri missed a host of clear-cut opportunities throughout the match, and despite mustering 15 shots at goal, could aim only three on target. Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne both fluffed their lines in the first half as the Seleccao were given a real let off.

Still without their talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo, the visitors showed more character and intent after the break, but only ever tested Gianluigi Donnarumma once. However, a point was enough to secure a passage into the last four.

Here are the major talking points from the game:

#1 Italy must learn to score

Insigne's frustrations sum up Italy's attacking play
Insigne's frustrations sum up Italy's attacking play

On most occasions these days, watching Italy play is like popping a few sleeping pills that would cause you to pass out just minutes later. No real attacking effervescence or creative ingenuity. Just defend. And even if they do exude an uncanny flair, are let down by poor finishing or wayward first-touches. Like in this game.

The Azzurri once again came to a cropper in the final third. They cut open Portugal with some clinical forward movement only to blow it all up in smoke with frustrating profligacy. Marco Verratti pulled the strings from the left, laying crosses or setting things up for the likes of Immobile and Insigne. But neither could emulate their ferocity in the final third when in club colours.

Another blank means Italy have failed to score in two of the last three competitive games, but that's just the tip of the iceberg: they haven't scored more than once in the last seven games, and on the occasion they did, the opposition was only Saudi Arabia.

This has seen Italy win only twice in 10 games this calendar year, and only one of them was competitive. Italy were never an attacking team, but their output in front of the net has painfully deteriorated and Roberto Mancini must figure out the panacea to this goal-scoring woe to restore this side back among the elites.


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