Nazionale A

Italy clinch 2-1 win over Venezuela thanks to a brace from Retegui

In Fort Lauderdale, under the watchful eyes of Jannik Sinner, the Azzurri claimed victory in the first of two friendlies in the States. Donnarumma saved a penalty early on, then the number nine for Italy unleashed his prowess

Friday, March 22, 2024

Italy clinch 2-1 win over Venezuela thanks to a brace from Retegui

At the home of Inter Miami, amidst the presence of Lionel Messi and with Jannik Sinner watching on in the stands of Fort Lauderdale's Chase Stadium, the national team secured a 2-1 victory against Venezuela in the first of two friendlies on American soil, courtesy of a brace from Mateo Retegui, reinforcing his strong candidacy for the striker role at EURO 2024.

For seventy minutes, Spalletti experimented with a three-man defence, presenting a modern style of play that doesn't confine players to fixed roles, but rather encourages constant movement and searching for spaces between the lines. The result was a game with some interesting moments and several errors from both sides. Donnarumma stood out, saving a penalty early on, while the Genoa striker sealed the final result in the final moments after Italy had reverted to their usual 4-3-3 formation. With less than three months until the start of the European Championships, there are plenty of talking points to ponder.

THE MATCH. Luciano Spalletti fielded a three-man defence, deploying a 3-4-2-1 formation for the first of the two friendlies in the USA, with Frattesi and Chiesa tasked to support Mateo Retegui upfront. Lining up in front of Donnarumma were Scalvini, Buongiorno and Di Lorenzo, with Udogie and Cambiaso (making his debut) as full-backs, and Bonaventura and Locatelli in midfield.

After a minute's silence to honour the memory of Joe Barone, the game kicked off with Venezuela immediately being awarded a penalty and the chance to open the scoring. Udogie was caught out and the ball fell to Rondon, who was brought down by Buongiorno in the box. Donnarumma saved Rondon's shot and Savarino wasted the rebound by shooting over the bar. With the danger averted, the Azzurri began to assert themselves, with Chiesa roaming across the attacking front. In the 14th minute, the Italian forward narrowly missed the target with a curling effort, and it was Rondon again five minutes later who came close to breaking the deadlock: Machis beat Di Lorenzo, delivered an enticing cross in; Buongiorno missed the interception and the Venezuelan striker poked wide from close range.

Venezuela proved to be physically strong with good individual talents, while Italy found it difficult impose any tempo. On the wings, neither Udogie nor Cambiaso managed to get to the byline, while Locatelli dropped between the two central defenders, with Di Lorenzo or Scalvini trying to find space in the opponent's final third. There was lots of movements, fluid football, but few clear-cut chances. Italy's high pressing led to the opening goal in the 40th minute courtesy of Retegui, who capitalised on Romo's short clearance, which was intercepted by Locatelli and slotted home by the Genoa striker with a precise low shot to make it 1-0. However, three minutes later, Italy returned the favour.

Donnarumma played a short pass to Bonaventura, who failed to notice Machis and gifted him the equaliser on a plate. Three gifts, two goals, and a missed penalty: the first 45 minutes saw more errors than good moves.

The second half started off with Barella replacing Bonaventura and some chaotic phases of play, exacerbated by the increasingly strong wind. In the 63rd minute, the newly introduced Cadiz player got away from Buongiorno and found himself in front of Donnarumma, who saved to maintain the lead. A minute later, Italy made a triple substitution: Jorginho replacing Locatelli, and Zaccagni and Pellegrini coming on for Chiesa and Frattesi, respectively. Zaniolo also entered the fray for Cambiaso, with Udogie dropping back and Italy reverting to a 4-3-3 formation. The former Roma player immediately posed a threat from distance, with Romo putting his shot behind for a corner. Then, in the 80th minute, Italy went ahead again thanks to a moment of brilliance from Jorginho, who provided a perfect assist to Retegui and his low shot into the bottom corner gave the striker's fourth goal in five appearances, making a strong case for a starting berth at the European Championships. He was subbed, amidst applause, giving way for the last five minutes to Raspadori, who narrowly missed out on a goal late on, demonstrating that Spalletti has alternatives.

On Sunday at the Red Bull Arena, in the New York area, Italy are back in action against Ecuador. It is another test ahead of the European Championships, another ninety minutes to try out something new and add new cards to the Azzurri hand to play in Germany.