European qualifying: the Azzurrini looking for a win that would mathematically seal their spot in the final tournament. Nicolato: “The match against Luxembourg will be like a final”Should they win in Differdange on Sunday, Italy would make it though to the group stage of the final tournament. Raspadori, Turati and Zappa join up with the squad, Lovato withdraws
Friday, November 13, 2020
After their fantastic win against Iceland, the Under-21 National Team returned to Tirrenia last night having picked up three crucial points that could prove decisive in their quest to qualify for the European Championship final tournament, which will be played in two stages: the group stage and the knockout stage. The former will take place from 24 to 31 March 2021 and involve the winners of the nine groups, the five best runners-up and the hosts (Hungary and Slovenia).
Thanks to the brace scored by debutant Tommaso Pobega, the Azzurrini now lead Group 1 outright, three points ahead of Ireland. On Sunday in Differdange, they could mathematically secure qualification by beating Luxembourg, who are languishing at the bottom of the group and previously suffered a 5-0 defeat to the Azzurrini in Castel di Sangro. Should Italy emerge their victorious, their game against Sweden in Pisa next Wednesday would become just a formality.
This morning, Matteo Lovato left the training camp after picking up an injury during the second half in Reykjavik. Head Coach Paolo Nicolato has called up Sassuolo goalkeeper Stefano Turati and Cagliari defender Gabriele Zappa, who have made the step up from the Under-21 B team led by Alberto Bollini. After being given the go-ahead by his local ASL health authority, Sassuolo striker Giacomo Raspadori has joined up with the squad. However, Fiorentina pair Federico Brancolini and Patrick Cutrone are still waiting for permission.
In the meantime, the Azzurrini have begun to prepare for their match against Luxembourg: those who played yesterday did recovery work, while the rest of the group took part in a more intense session on the eve of the team’s departure for Differdange. Another win would guarantee qualification, and Italy will certainly be the favourites against a team that sits bottom of the group on three points: “We’ve got a big opportunity, but we need to display the right desire and spirit out on the pitch in order to achieve a result that isn’t a given,” said Nicolato when speaking to Rai Sport. “I’ll field the best team possible because, for us, this match will be like a final.”
The Head Coach then talked about yesterday’s win: “I’m very satisfied with how both the lads who were already part of the group and the newcomers are performing. The new guys have surprised me in terms of how they’ve integrated and the attitude they’ve shown on the pitch. This situation gives the opportunity to watch new players in action, try out new systems and observe how the lads are able to adapt.”
*The list of players available to Paolo Nicolato
Portieri: Marco Carnesecchi (Atalanta), Michele Cerofolini (Reggiana), Alessandro Russo (Virtus Entella), Stefano Turati (Sassuolo);
Difensori: Raoul Bellanova (Pescara), Alessandro Buongiorno (Torino), Giuseppe Cuomo (Crotone), Enrico Delprato (Reggina), Gianluca Frabotta (Juventus), Matteo Gabbia (Milan), Riccardo Marchizza (Spezia), Marco Sala (Spal), Marco Varnier (Pisa), Alessandro Vogliacco (Pordenone), Gabriele Zappa (Cagliari);
Centrocampisti: Marco Carraro (Frosinone), Davide Frattesi (Monza), Youssef Maleh (Venezia), Filippo Melegoni (Genoa), Tommaso Pobega (Spezia), Samuele Ricci (Empoli), Nicolò Rovella (Genoa), Niccolò Zanellato (Crotone);
Attaccanti: Sebastiano Esposito (Spal), Andrea Pinamonti (Inter), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Genoa), Riccardo Sottil (Cagliari).
* Fiorentina players Federico Brancolini and Patrick Cutrone will join up with the squad only after receiving permission from the relevant health authorities