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Evani: “We need to remain attentive, Bosnia have always caused us problems”

Italy’s Assistant Coach on the eve of their final match of the Nations League group stage: “We’ve made many sacrifices, it’d be terrible if we didn’t secure first spot.” Florenzi: “It’ll be a battle, we’re ready”

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Evani: “We need to remain attentive, Bosnia have always caused us problems”

Following their win against Poland, which was achieved following a brilliant display from the whole group, Italy are preparing to overcome the final obstacle: at 20:45 CET on Wednesday, the Azzurri will face Bosnia & Herzegovina in Sarajevo, their final match of the Nations League group stage. It’ll be a decisive showdown: a win will guarantee a place in the Final Four, while a draw could also be enough should the Netherlands fail to win away to Poland. If the game in Chorzów ends in a draw, the Azzurri could even lose and still make it through.

However, Roberto Mancini’s side, who will be among the top ten European seeds for the World Cup qualifying draw in December, aren’t making calculations. Although they’ll be without their Head Coach once more – Alberico Evani will be in the dugout for the third successive match – the Azzurri will be looking to build on their convincing performances and secure first place in the group.

Bosnia will be the final match in a cycle that started against the same opponents: “We know that Bosnia are an excellent side: we’ve played them three times, winning two and drawing one of those games, and they’ve always caused us big problems. We need to limit the danger. Dzeko will be missing, but they have other important players: one man doesn’t make a team. We will need to be superior to them to win the match,” said Evani.

Against Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Azzurri have won twice, drawn once and lost on one occasion. The National Team came up against the Bosnians in Euro 2020 qualifying, coming from behind to win 2-1 in Turin and running out comfortable 3-0 winners in Zenica. Earlier on during the current Nations League campaign, the two sides played out a 1-1 draw in Florence two months ago. The teams will be coming up against each other for the second time in Sarajevo, where the Azzurri suffered a shock defeat against the newly formed Bosnian national team in 1996. Just a few weeks later, Sacchi left his role as the Azzurri Head Coach.

“We’ve made many sacrifices, but we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to finish top of the group,” continued Evani. “It’d be terrible if we didn’t secure first spot, but we need to earn it. We know we’ll be up against a side that don’t give you any favours, even if they’re bottom of the stadings. Everyone wants to make a good impression, and this is especially the case when teams come up against big names like Italy. We’ll therefore need to be very attentive. We’ve been working together for two years and have grown a lot. We’re still expecting to make a lot more progress. To reach the level of the very best sides, we still need to make strides forward, but the confidence these lads have makes us optimistic.

Italy may be decimated by injuries and problems relating to COVID-19, but the best possible side will take to the pitch tomorrow. “We’re assessing how the players are recovering,” emphasised Evani. “Perhaps there will be a couple of changes from the team that started in Reggio Emilia, but I don’t think there will be a lot of new faces. We’re also looking closely at Florenzi and Belotti in particular: they’ve been training on their own all week and have given everything. They’re motivated and want to be here, and they’ll be involved if they don’t experience any particular problems.”

Evani is asking the Azzurri to keep their guard up, but, at the same time, he’s feeling calm: “We’re working with great players and excellent people, so I don’t think they’ll get ahead of themselves. In life and especially in football, what you did yesterday no longer counts. What’s important is what we do tomorrow evening. We’re fully focused on achieving a good result.”

After captaining the side against Poland in Reggio Emilia, Alessandro Florenzi is ready to carry on down the same path tomorrow: “It won’t be an easy match, Bosnia’s game caused us problems the last time we met. It’ll be a battle, but we’re fired up and want to achieve a great result. Every match needs to be approached as if it were a final. This is what Mancini wants, and this is what the staff convey to us every day. It’s our hallmark.”

Squad list

Goalkeepers: Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Davide Calabria (Milan), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri Dos Santos (Chelsea), Gian Marco Ferrari (Sassuolo), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Luca Pellegrini (Genoa), Alessio Romagnoli (Milan);
Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Inter), Frello Jorge Luiz Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Roberto Soriano (Bologna), Sandro Tonali (Milan);
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Stephan El Shaarawy (Shanghai Shenua), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Kevin Lasagna (Udinese), Stefano Okaka Chuka (Udinese), Riccardo Orsolini (Bologna).

The schedule

Tuesday 17 November
10:45 – Journey from Florence to Sarajevo
16:30 – Bosnia & Herzegovina press conference at the Grbavica Stadium in Sarajevo
17:00 –Bosnia & Herzegovina training session (media access for the first 15 minutes) at the Grbavica Stadium in Sarajevo
17:30 – Italy press conference at the Grbavica Stadium in Sarajevo
18:00 – Italy training session (media access for the first 15 minutes) at the Grbavica Stadium in Sarajevo

Wednesday 18 November
20:45 – Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. ITALY post-match press event and subsequent return to Italy

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