Nazionale U21

The Azzurrini’s European Championship qualifying campaign set to begin in Castel di Sangro. Nicolato: “Our group isn’t an easy one”

Tomorrow, the Under-21 National Team will face Luxembourg. The Head Coach: “Kean and Zaniolo have great qualities, they need to learn from the mistakes they’ve made”

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Azzurrini’s European Championship qualifying campaign set to begin in Castel di Sangro. Nicolato: “Our group isn’t an easy one”

Paolo Nicolato’s first competitive match as the Head Coach of the Under-21 National Team is just around the corner. After their 4-0 win over Moldova in Friday’s friendly in Catania, Italy will begin their EURO 2021 qualifying campaign tomorrow as they look to put this summer’s group stage elimination on home soil behind them once and for all. At the Stadio Teofilo Patini in Castel di Sangro, the Azzurrini will face a Luxembourg side who suffered two 3-0 defeats away to the Republic of Ireland and Iceland in their first two games in the group.

“It’s clear that the road ahead will be a long one,” said Nicolato. “We’re still in the early stages and therefore I expect a lot. We’re still lacking conviction and need to look to push forward and take it step by step. Above all, we need to try to do well. Our group isn’t an easy one: Ireland are a tough team to face, Island are coming along and Sweden are a good side. Certain Federations who were once considered to be of a lower level are developing.” Paolo Nicolato knows his players well having shared two great experiences during the Under-19 European Championship (runners-up) in 2018 and Under-20 World Cup in June (fourth place) with many of them: “This Under-21 side is a mix of players who have taken a certain path over the years, and what you see is the result of work that has been put in over a long period. We hope to carry this forward in the best possible way.”

Nicolato won’t be taking anything for granted against Luxembourg: “I’ve learned to not underestimate anybody, games can be slightly easier or less easy depending on our attitude, but you need to watch out for all teams at international level. Tomorrow’s game will be different compared to the one played in Catania. However, I hope that the team display the same attitude as they did on Friday. We’ll primarily try to give continuity to the group’s spirit and sense of belonging. As a basis, there’s a project which sees a shared philosophy with the senior side in terms of the game we want to play. We’ve embraced this way of thinking and are also pursuing it with the younger National Teams. We’ve been following this line of thought for a long time now. Clearly, patience is needed because it’s not easy to implement and we could get it wrong on certain occasions, but we absolutely need to keep going down this path because we want to produce players who are capable of playing the senior side’s game.”

Moise Kean and Nicolò Zaniolo are also in the side, two players who were excluded by Di Biagio in the Azzurrini’s final European Championship game for disciplinary reasons and who want to win back their spot in the senior National Team as soon as possible: “They both have great qualities,” said the Head Coach. “The facts speak for this. They need to reflect on some of the mistakes they’ve made. The problem isn’t getting it wrong but learning from mistakes. I believe in them because of their qualities. There’s no need for words, facts are needed instead. It’s all in their hand, it’s up to them to behave in a certain way and respect the few rules that exist in a group.”


Monday 9 September
16:45 - Press conference (with the Coach) at the "Teofilo Patini" Stadium in Castel di Sangro
17:30 - Training at the stadium (open for the first 15 minutes)

Tuesday 10 September
18:30 – ITALY vs. LUXEMBOURG at the "Teofilo Patini" Stadium in Castel di Sangro. Followed by a press conference after the match and the conclusion of the national meet.
N.B. All times in CEST. The times of trainings and press conferences may be subject to change.