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Mancini: “Important to have reached the Final Four.” Donnarumma: “A victory that brings back enthusiasm”

The Azzurri shot-stopper: "The World Cup still remains an open wound." Dimarco scored the Azzurri's 1500th goal in its history: "It's been a long journey, I want to enjoy this evening." Debutant Mazzocchi: "Magnificent, but this is just the starting point."

Monday, September 26, 2022

Mancini: “Important to have reached the Final Four.” Donnarumma: “A victory that brings back enthusiasm”

The Head Coach is happy, but behind the smile is a World Cup disappointment that he will have to watch as a spectator, just as millions of Italians will. The victory over Hungary gives Italy their second consecutive place in the Nations League Final Four stage but Roberto Mancini is not able to forget about missing out on Qatar 2022: "It's important to have reached the Final Four, we did well to put ourselves back in the group. Unfortunately, the World Cup is still a regret, I can't do anything about it, I can only suffer in silence. We are working on a new Italy, we'll experiment even more but there are some good signs."

In Budapest, Italy showed, just as they did on Friday at San Siro, the same character as their Head Coach adapting from a 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2, due to the many injuries in the squad. The response was a positive one, even if an outstanding performance by Donnarumma was also needed: "He was exceptional when we needed him, the serenity he's got at PSG is doing him good. We've played really well in these two games, but we need to maintain it for the full 90 minutes. It's fair to say that tiredness probably crept in." Mancini also had a few words for his counterpart and former teammate Marco Rossi and the Hungarian supporters: "He's doing an unbelievable job. They clapped our national anthem, they were fantastic on the night."

If on Friday a couple of great saves from Harry Kane proved decisive against England, in Budapest Gigio Donnarumma was on another level and simply superb. It was a performance that merited a vote of ten for the European Championships' player of the tournament: "This victory will bring back some enthusiasm, even if the World Cup is still an open wound and we can't go back and change it," the shot-stopper explained. "We've done well to come back with two wins and qualification for the Final Four. We're going to go out and try and win the Nations League." In June, he received some criticism for a mistake in the match with Germany, but making mistakes is human even for those who seem extra-terrestrial: "Every now and then it happens and for goalkeepers it's especially tough. But you have to remain focused. Games like tonight's prepare themselves, I just try to stay calm, and give serenity to the group." 

As one of the standout performers on Friday at San Siro, Federico Dimarco once again showed his current good form. The Inter wide-man was up and down the left flank all night and after hitting the post against England was extremely satisfied to have got his first international goal, one that is the 1500th in the Azzurri's history: "I am really pleased to have scored, but the important thing was to win and reach the Final Four. It's been a long journey to get here, every day I have tried to give my best, I want to enjoy this evening."

It was also an unforgettable night for Pasquale Mazzocchi, Mancini's 51st debutant and the first Salernitana player to have got a senior cap: "It was magnificent, I was hoping I would get on right until the end. I wanted it so bad and I'm so pleased we got the win as well. I'm very ambitious and this is just the starting point. You have to earn the right to wear this shirt, I will show my kids in the future." A thought also went out to his parents, who were emotional on hearing the news of his call-up: "They are celebrating and I can't wait to get home to see them. Taking the route of being a footballer has been hard work, but I'm happy."