Nazionale A

Nations League. Honours even in Bergamo

Italy and the Netherlands draw, Poland move top of the group following victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nations League. Honours even in Bergamo

Matchday 4 of the Nations League was an uncomfortable one for Italy, who drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in Bergamo, while Poland beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0 to move top of the group, two points ahead of the Azzurri. One month on from Italy’s win over the same opposition in Amsterdam, tonight’s clash produced and tight and hard-fought game.

It had been 14 years since Italy last played in Bergamo, and today they returned to show solidarity with a city so greatly affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. Italy took the lead in the 17th minute through Lorenzo Pellegrini, only to be pegged back by the Netherlands seven minutes later; Donny van de Beek with the equaliser.

THE GAME. – Mancini picked a strong midfield three formed of Verratti, Jorginho and Barella. Donnarumma started in goal; Chiellini and Bonucci formed a familiar centre-back pairing, flanked by D’Ambrosio on the right and Spinazzola on the left. Up top, Immobile played through the middle with Chiesa and Pellegrini either side of him. Not even a minute had passed in the game and Verratti released Pellegrini, whose shot was underhit and safely gathered by goalkeeper Cillessen.

Italy struggled to string any passes together in the opening phase of the game due to the Netherlands’ aggressive press. The Azzurri found most joy through combinations between Chiesa and Barella, and it was from this combination that Italy took the lead. In the 17th minute, Barella found some space on the right and swung in an inch-perfect pass to Pellegrini, taking both Dutch centre-backs out of the game. Pellegrini kept his cool and slotted home to make it 1-0.

Six minutes later, the Azzurri had a chance to double their lead; Immobile’s shot was saved by Cillessen. It could have been 2-0, but moments later the Dutch got on level terms. In the 25th minute, the ball landed at van de Beek’s feet inside the penalty area and he thumped it into the roof of the net, 1-1.

It was rather a cold shower for the home side, who struggled to get the game back under their control. Hearts were in Italy mouths as Luuk de Jong popped up free inside the penalty box, but his header was wayward - a real let-off for the Azzurri.
After a momentary lapse in concentration, the Azzurri pushed with increased determination and, five minutes before half-time, Cillessen was forced to deny both Spinazzola and then D’Ambrosio from range.

Just after the break, Italy found themselves in trouble. The guests looked dangerous every time they broke and threatened through Wijnaldum (48’) and Depay (55’), whose shot was brilliantly saved by Donnarumma.
In the 56th minute, Mancini sent on Kean and Locatelli in place of Chiesa and Verratti. Two minutes later, an error from Hateboer gifted a golden opportunity to Immobile, who squandered the chance. Bonucci then looked to head home the dead ball but his effort struck D’Ambrosio’s leg on the goal line and was cleared away by the defence.

The Azzurri made their third change in the 73rd minute, Florenzi replaced the goalscorer Pellegrini and was immediately in the thick of the action; his cross for Kean was cut out by Van Dijk. In the 84th minute, again Florenzi whipped in an inviting cross, but Immobile couldn’t get on the end of it. Kean had the final chance of the game; in injury time, he looked to by through on goal but Cillessen was quick off his line and cleared away. Anthony Taylor blew the final whistle and it finished all square.