Nazionale U21

Matches against Slovenia and Sweden in Lignano Sabbiadoro and Kalmar. Nicolato: “I’ll call up more players”

The season kicks off on 3 September with a friendly at the Stadio Guido Teghi. On 8 September, the Azzurrini then go to the Guldfågeln Arena to restart their European qualification campaign

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Matches against Slovenia and Sweden in Lignano Sabbiadoro and Kalmar. Nicolato: “I’ll call up more players”

Almost ten months since they last played, in Catania against Armenia, the Italy U21s are back in action on Thursday 3 September (17:30 CEST) at the Stadio Guido Teghil in Lignano Sabbiadoro for a friendly against Slovenia. The Azzurini are unbeaten against their Slovenian counterparts (seven wins and one draw). The U21s will play their first ever match in Lignano Sabbiadoro, before heading to Sweden where, on Tuesday 8 September, their quest for qualification for the Euros restarts at the Guldfågeln Arena in Kalmar. In 17 games against the Swedes, the Azzurrini have won eight, drawn six and lost three. The only time the U21s have played in Kalmar was back in October 2012; goals from Insigne, Florenzi and Immobile saw the away side win 3-1 in the second leg of the playoff that meant qualification for the Euros.

“I can’t wait to get back out there,” said coach Paolo Nicolato, “in 30 years, I haven’t been able to stop for almost a year. Given the unknowns for physical conditions, I will also call up more players than I usually would. The friendly against Slovenia will serve as a way to judge the boys that I haven’t been able to watch yet, and who can give us a hand by increasing squad depth. All of these league games in such quick succession have given some of the younger lads a chance to show what they’re capable of. We’re following their progress closely.”

The Azzurrini are second in Group 1, with 13 points in five games (four wins and one draw - 15 goals scored and none conceded). They’re three points behind the Republic of Ireland, who have played two more games. Italy will try to finish top of the group or at the very least count themselves among the five best second-place teams, in order to join the host nations Hungary and Slovenia for a qualifying phase made up of four groups of four teams. This stage will be played between 24 and 31 March 2021. The group winners and runners-up will qualify for the eight-team finals in Hungary and Slovenia, which will take place as a round robin tournament between 31 May and 6 June 2021.

“Our objective is two-fold,” Nicolato said, “qualifying for the Euros and having as many players as possible turn out for the senior Italy team, which were doing well for now.”