Mancini: “Armenia are ahead of us physically, we want to qualify as soon as possible"Tomorrow at 18:00 CEST, the fifth match in the group will kick off for the Azzurri in Yerevan
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
EURO 2020 qualification will restart in Yerevan and the side arrived in the Armenian capital today after flying from Bologna. Tomorrow, the Republican Stadium will be the venue for the fifth match in the group with kick-off at 18:00 CEST. Should Italy win, that will make it six in a row and that would be a record in European Championship qualifying for the Azzurri.
After a run of 34 matches unbeaten in European qualifying with 28 wins (including the last eight) and six draws, Italy haven’t lost an away qualifier in 13 years. That was on 6 September 2006 in Paris against France. The only previous match away against Armenia saw the Azzurri win 3-1 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier with Pirlo, De Rossi and Osvaldo finding the net. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the goal for Armenia that day and the new Roma player is the undoubted star for the team ranked 98th in the world but they’ve performed well in Group J and have six points after beating Liechtenstein and Greece.
“Our aim is to secure qualification as soon as possible,” said Mancini at the pre-match press conference. “These are two vital games. We’ve done well so far, we’re regrouping after four months away and we won’t be at our best physically but we have other weapons that will help us to cope. Physically, Armenia are further on that we are seeing that many of them play in leagues which began earlier. They’re strongest in attack, where they have four plays with great skill and pace. They come into the game after an excellent performance in Athens and they’re en route to qualify. We’ll have to play a great game. We’ll be in trouble if we think it’s a simple fixture.”
From Chiellini to De Sciglio, Cristante to Lorenzo Insigne, Roberto Mancini has seen a large number of players fall by the wayside in recent days. “I’m very sorry about the three series injuries that we’ve had [Chiellini, Piccini and Pavoletti] while the others are minor issues that will thankfully pass quickly. Some players, the Torino ones for example, are further ahead but the aim is to go again from the second half against Bosnia and Herzegovina and that same attacking attitude. We’ll have some difficulties like we did against Finland. We’ll have to give our best in the difficult moments.
With Chiellini out, Leonardo Bonucci takes on the captaincy. “We wish Giorgio all the best,” said Bonucci. “We’ll certainly miss his leadership, his knowledge of how to manage moments in matches and his ability to help his teammates. We hope to have him back as soon as possible and we’re waiting for him with open arms. Should he feature against Armenia and Finland, Bonucci would match Alessandro Del Piero’s total of 91 Italy caps and go tenth in the all-time appearance charts. “We’re here to win but we must be wary of Armenia,” added the defender. “They played well in Greece, they’ll be very motivated tomorrow and they’re in form. The last time when we played Armenia in Naples, it finished 2-2 and that result meant we weren’t seeded for the World Cup in Brazil which complicated matters.”
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Armando Izzo (Torino), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Luca Pellegrini (Cagliari), Alessio Romagnoli (Milan);
Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Inter), Frello Filho Jorge Luiz Jorginho (Chelsea), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Sandro Tonali (Brescia), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Stephan El Shaarawy (Shangai Shenhua), Vincenzo Grifo (Friburgo), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Kevin Lasagna (Udinese).
The National Team's schedule*
Wednesday 4 September
10:00 CEST - Flight departs from Bologna to Yerevan
All times below are in local time (+2 in relation to CEST)
18:30 (16:30 CEST) - Press conference with the Coach and one player at the Republican Stadium
19:00 (17:00 CEST) - MD-1 Training at the Republican Stadium (open to the media for the first 15 minutes)
Thursday 5 September
20:00 (18:00 CEST) - Armenia vs. Italy at the Republican Stadium. Meeting with the media after the game and then return to team hotel
Friday 6 September
10:30 (8:30 CEST) - Training at the FFA Academy Training Centre (behind closed doors)
16:40 (14:40 CEST) - Flight departs from Yerevan to Tampere
All times below are in local time (+1 in relation to CET)
Saturday 7 September
17:30 (16:30 CEST) - Press conference with the Coach and one player at the Tampere Stadium
18:00 (17:00 CEST) - MD-1 Training at the Tampere Stadium (open to the media for the first 15 minutes)
Sunday 8 September
21:45 (20:45 CEST) - Finland vs. Italy at the Tampere Stadium. Meeting with the media after the game and then airport transfer
01:15 (00:15 CEST) - Flight departs from Tampere to Malpensa/Rome
*Training and press times in Bologna may be subject to change