Nazionale U21

A winning start for Nicolato, a four-goal haul for the new-look Under-21 side against Moldova

Frattesi’s brace and goals from Scamacca and Tumminello secure a comfortable win in Catania. The Head Coach: “I liked the team’s attitude.” Opening EURO 2021 qualifying match coming up on Tuesday

Friday, September 6, 2019

A winning start for Nicolato, a four-goal haul for the new-look Under-21 side against Moldova

Paolo Nicolato’s reign as the Head Coach of the Under-21 National Team has started in encouraging fashion. Two months on from their disappointing group stage elimination during the European Championship on home soil, the Azzurrini started their new chapter with a comfortable 4-0 win over Moldova at the Stadio Angelo Massimino in Catania in what was a test to see where the team are at ahead of their first EURO 2021 qualifying match against Luxembourg on Tuesday in Castel di Sangro. In addition to the Head Coach, there were 13 other debutants in an Italy side who, after struggling to find space in the first half, managed to sweep Moldova aside in the second period, with the performances of substitutes Frettesi (who scored a brace) and Sala being among the most positive aspects of the evening.

While he waits for more demanding tests on the road ahead, Nicolato can only be satisfied with what he saw: “The lads expressed themselves well. We can and must improve, but I liked their attitude. They are special lads and I hope they can do great things in the future. In the first half, we made our opponents do a lot of running, meaning they started to tire. In the second half, they struggled defend the width of the pitch.”


On Tuesday, it gets serious: “It will be a different match against Luxembourg, a real match. At this moment of the season it’s difficult to judge the players’ physical condition, we know that we’ll encounter difficulties but we’ll try to overcome them.”

The match. For his debut on the Under-21 bench, Nicolato abandoned the 3-5-2 he used at the Under-20 World Cup and, just like the senior National Team, went with a 4-3-3 formation, with a front three consisting of Moise Kean, Gianluca Scamacca and Andrea Pinamonti. Locatelli, the captain of the new-look side, was named on the bench, meaning the Genoa striker wore the captain’s armband. Carnesecchi lined up in goal, while Marchizza and Bastoni took to the pitch as the team’s two centre-backs with Delprato and Ranieri either side of them in the Azzurrini’s backline. Carraro, Zanellato and Zaniolo formed Italy’s midfield trio, with the latter wearing the number ten shirt.

Once the game kicked off, Italy held a very high defensive line, with Zanellato and Carraro looking to receive the ball and find the right pass to break through a Moldova side who were happy to camp in their own half. After Nihaev’s free kick was beaten away by Carnesecchi, Kean came to life in the tenth minute as he beat an opposition player before being stopped just a few yards away from Agachi’s goal. The Everton striker also came close twelve minutes later, with his powerful right-footed strike being put behind for a corner by the Moldovan goalkeeper. It wasn’t easy to find space, so it wasn’t a surprise that the opening goal came from a set piece: it was Gianluca Scamacca who scored the first goal of the Nicolato era with a fantastic free kick in the 33rd minute. Scamacca then looked to turn provider, but Pinamonti was beaten to the ball in front of goal. After missing out on the senior squad, Zaniolo and Kean responded with impressive performances, with Roma player showing excellent physical prowess and the former Bianconeri man at one point enthusing the Sicilian crowd with an excellent touch with his back heel to control the ball.

As expected, Nicolato made a number of changes at the start of the second half: Ranieri, Zanellato, Zaniolo, Kean and Pinamonti went off, while Sala, Maggiore, Frattesi, Tumminello and Sottil came on. In the 48th minute, Scamacca came close to scoring a second with another free kick. It was then time for the Marco Sala show: the Virtus Entella winger firstly sent Maggiore through on goal, but the latter grazed the post with his effort across the goalkeeper. However, Italy didn’t have to wait too much longer to get their second as Frettesi got on the end of another Sala ball and found the back of the net on his debut. The Azzurrini then came inches away from grabbing a third through Tumminello, who was denied by Agachi following Sottil’s low cross. When the third goal did arrive, it was thanks to more combination play between Sala and Frattesi: another assist for the former and another goal from the latter. Tumminello then made it 4-0 after the outrushing Moldovan goalkeeper was unable to sufficiently get the ball out of the danger area after more good play by Frattesi. The new-look Under-21 side were beginning to entertain and enjoy themselves, looking to score a fifth goal until the very end. And goals are what the Azzurrini need against Luxembourg in Castel di Sangro on Tuesday, when a win will once again equate to three points.

ITALY 4-0 MOLDOVA (1-0 at half-time)

: 33’ Scamacca (I), 52’ and 63’ Frattesi (I), 69’ Tumminello (I)

ITALY: Carnesecchi; Delprato (66’ Adjapong), Marchizza (76’ Gabbia), Bastoni, Ranieri (46’ Sala); Zanellato (46 Maggiore), Carraro, Zaniolo (46’ Frattesi); Scamacca, Kean (46’ Tumminello), Pinamonti (Cap) (46’ Sottil). Subs: Plizzari, Del Favero, Tripaldelli, Locatelli, Bellanova. Head Coach: Paolo Nicolato.

: Agachi; Boico (81’ Berco), Ursu, Furtuna (58’ Carostoian), Dijinari; Dros, Stina, Craciun (Cap), Nihaev (58’ Chelari), Belousov (81’ Mamaliga); Nicolaescu (58’ Gulceac). Subs: Straistari, Ieseanu. Head Coach: Serghei Clescenco.

Referee: Matthew Degabriele (MLT); Assistants: Jurgen Spiteri and Mitchell Scerri (MLT). Fourth Official: Rosario Abisso (ITA).

Notes: Attendance: 3500. Bookings: Nihaev (M), Carraro (I), Tumminello (I), Bastoni (I), Craciun (M).

Saturday 7 September
09:00 - Flight Catania-Rome Fiumicino and transfer to the Sport Village Hotel & Spa -Castel di Sangro AQ
13:15 - Press conference (with two players) at the Sport Village Hotel & Spa
17:00 - Training at "Teofilo Patini" (open to the press)

Sunday 8 September
10:00 - Training at "Teofilo Patini" (closed)
17:00 - Training at "Teofilo Patini" (open to the press for the first 15 minutes)

Monday 9 September
16:45 - Press conference (with the Coach) at the "Teofilo Patini" Stadium in Castel di Sangro
17:30 - Training at the stadium (open for the first 15 minutes)
Tuesday 10 September
18:30 – ITALY vs. LUXEMBOURG at the "Teofilo Patini" Stadium in Castel di Sangro. Followed by a press conference after the match and the conclusion of the national meet.

N.B. All times in CEST. The times of trainings and press conferences may be subject to change.

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