Nazionale U19

Slovenia next in the Elite Round. Bollini: “Not to be underestimated.”

Italy play their second game of the tournament tomorrow (25 March) at 12:00 CET, at the Bsa Obervieland in Bremen. They will have to do without two key players: goalkeeper, Mastrantonio, and forward, D’Andrea: “The lads will win even without us”

Friday, March 24, 2023

Slovenia next in the Elite Round. Bollini: “Not to be underestimated.”

After the excellent 3-2 win over hosts Germany in their opening game two days ago, the Under 19s have reset and got back down to work as they prepare for the next challenge. Tomorrow, at 12:00 CET, they face their second game of the competition against Slovenia at the BSA Obervieland in Bremen, where the Elite phase is being held. The Azzurrini will have to do without goalkeeper, Davide Mastrantonio (Triestina), and Sassuolo forward, Luca D’Andrea – scorer of the second goal against the Germans – who are both suspended. Bollini will have available, though, defender Lorenzo della Valle (missing from the first game due to suspension) and Luca Koleosho, recovered from a slight injury that kept him out of the game with Germany.

The Slovenians come into the game on the back of a goalless draw against Belgium in their first game, a result obtained by showing all of the characterisitcs that earned them their place in the competition, after getting through the first phase by finishing top in Group 13 knocking out the Netherlands. They operate with a 5-3-2 formation; they are difficult to break down, and press high up the pitch with fast counter-attacking options: “We won’t be fooled by reputations,” warned the Azzurrini Head Coach, "just because Germany are considered one of the strongest nations thanks to their history, but it doesn’t work like that. Slovenia haven’t conceded for many games, drew their first match against Belgium, and are a very hard-working, aggressive, competitive side. They are very strong defensively, so we’ll need to stay patient and persevere, focusing on playing our game but being aware of their ability to counter quickly.”

Luca D’Andrea won't be there tomorrow, but he said proudly: “The Azzurri shirt is a dream for me. It's a magnificent group to be part of, and without me and David, I'm sure the lads will impose their game against Slovenia." He wanted to be there, with them, just as he was at the start of this journey, when he asked his Club, Sassuolo, to allow him to join the Azzurri group. The Club were quick to support him, from a player who has already earned five starting Serie A appearances, and provided an assist against Atalanta in Bergamo (Kyriakopoulos' goal).

Luca was born 19 years ago in Naples, in the Ponticelli district, and father Antonio has been his mentor from the beginning. He had a career as a professional in Serie C that was ended prematurely:Times were different then,” says Luca, “and my father had to make a lot of sacrifice to provide for the family, but he never stopped sending out his love for the game. He follows me everywhere and he’s really proud of what I’m doing.” His footballing adventure started in the Azzurri football school in the capital of Campania, before then moving to SPAL at the age of 13 where he passed four years before being approached by Sassuolo. He was immediately spotted by First Team Head Coach, Alessio Dionisi, and didn’t hesitate to call up Luca following Domenico Berardi’s injury in the early parts of the league campaign: “I have a great relationship with the gaffer. He’s always giving me advice and when I don’t play in the first team, where I’m a regular now, he asks me to help out the Primavera team. He also has a special relationship with Frattesi, who he gets techical and behavioural advice from: “Davide is like a big brother and I learn lots from him; his suggestions are vital for my development and growth. His Azzurri career started off last year with Daniele Franceschini’s Under 18s. He made his debut in a friendly with France (a 2-1 loss) and has got three goals to his name. This season, he moved up to the Under 19s and has become a key player: his performance against Germany was exceptional, not only for his goal scored but also for his tireless work down the right side with Kayode (Fiorentina) “At the start of the second half, I was exhausted,” Luca continues, “and I asked the gaffer to take me off. I wanted a teammate (Vignato) to come on and give the team some new, fresh energy. We played really well, but we’ve not reached our targets yet: tomorrow, against Slovenia, my teammates will have to show the same fight and determination to win. We want to win this Euros.”

The other group game tomorrow sees Belgium face Germany (at 16:00 CET at Sportplatz Vinnenweg in Bremen), in a game that could prove decisive for qualificiation: with an Italy win (top on three points) and a draw or defeat for Belgium, the Azzurrini would go through to the Euro Finals, scheduled to take place in Malta from 3 to 16 July, with a game to spare.

Squad List

Goalkeepers: Davide Mastrantonio (Triestina), Lorenzo Palmisani (Frosinone);

Defenders: Fabio Christian Chiarodia (Werder Bremen), Lorenzo Dellavalle (Juventus), Michael Olabode Kayode (Fiorentina), Filippo Calixte Mane (Borussia Dortmund), Filippo Missori (Roma), Iacopo Regonesi (Atalanta), Riccardo Stivanello (Bologna);

Midfielders: Lorenzo Amatucci (Fiorentina), Giacomo Faticanti (Roma), Justin Kumi (Sassuolo), Luca Lipani (Genoa), Niccolò Pisilli (Roma);

Forwards: Luca D’andrea (Sassuolo), Francesco Esposito (Inter), Luis Hasa (Juventus), Luca Warrick Daeovie Koleosho (Espanyol), Antonio Raimondo (Bologna), Samuele Vignato (Monza).

Fixtures and standings - Group 2

Wednesday 22 March

Germany 2-3 ITALY

Belgium 0-0 Slovenia

Standings. Italy 3 pt, Belgium and Slovenia 1, Germany 0

Saturday 25 March

Slovenia vs. ITALY, at 12:00 CET, Stadion Obervielandin Bremen

Germany vs. Belgium, at 16:00 CET, Sportplatz Vinnenweg in Bremen

Tuesday 28 March

ITALY vs. Belgium, at 12:00 CEST, Marko Mock Arena Oberneuland in Bremen

Slovenia vs. Germany, at 12:00 CEST, Weserstadion Platz 11 in Bremen