Nazionale U21

U21--Euro 2019 Dream start as the Azzurrini beat Spain 3-1

Di Biagio's side came from behind in Bologna to win thanks to a Chiesa brace and Pellegrini penalty. Di Biagio" "I saw an incredible reaction"

Sunday, June 16, 2019

U21--Euro 2019 Dream start as the Azzurrini beat Spain 3-1

The Under-21 National Team got off to a dream start at the 2019 European Championship which is being hosted by Italy and San Marino between 16 and 30 June. In Bologna, Di Biagio’s Azzurrini came from behind to beat the runners-up from the last tournament and start the competition in the best of ways with the aim of going all the way. It’s the 21st edition of the competition and it will also determine qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The list of previous meetings between Italy and Spain is a long one. Spain have won 11 out of the 22 matches against the Azzurrini, also eliminating Italy from the last two tournaments. Spain are second for the number of titles won at the competition, behind only Italy who have won it five times, including in Spain in 1996 when Barcelona hosted the final.

After Poland’s surprising win over Belgium, Di Biagio’s side needed to put in a great performance in front of a packed Dall’Ara.

The Coach lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. Meret was in goal. Calabresi, Mancini, Bonifazi and Dimarco were at the back. Barella, Pellegrini and the captain Mandragora made up the midfield with Zaniola, Chiesa and Kean in the advanced roles.

It was a side with quality all over the pitch and the Azzurrini looked to start strongly but de la Fuente’s side weren’t intimidated by the occasion or the crowd. Early on Ceballos opened the scoring with a magnificent hit from distance that Meret had no chance of saving. It was a tough blow for the Azzurrini but the side did well to stick together and not panic despite all of Spain’s pressure. Di Biagio’s side kept going and were rewarded in the 36th minute. The ball was played out wide to Federico Chiesa on the left who controlled it brilliantly, made his way into the box and caught Simon out at his near post. It was the goal that put the nerves at ease. From then on, Italy started to control the game and had a chance to extend the lead before the whistle through Dimarco.

The best was to come later however. Despite Zaniolo going off injured and Orsolini coming on, the Azzurrini started the second half brightly with Federico Chiesa unplayable at times. The Fiorentina player scored his second in the 64th minute, getting on a loose ball in the Spain box following shots from Cutrone and Barella. It was the goal that really lit up the Dall’Ara and took the energy out of Spain’s legs whose only real chance of the half was in the 77th minute through Ceballos. Nine minutes from the end, Pellegrini was pulled back in the box by Soler with VAR intervening to inform the referee who pointed to the spot. Pellegrini stepped up himself to score the penalty and kill the game off. Spain’s desperate late attacks didn’t lead to anything and Italy could celebrate the first win of the tournament and enjoy a small dose of revenge over Spain. It was a fantastic night for the Azzurrini as FIGC Gabriele Gravina stated after. "I want to thank all of the guys, the city of Bologna and the fans for making it a great night," he said. "It was a magical night. What struck me the most was the determination of the Azzurrini, we were aware of their quality but to turn the result around like that certainly wasn’t easy."

It’s a win that means Di Biagio’s side will face Poland from a position at the top of Group A. "We started badly and suffered with how they moved the ball," said Di Biagio after the game. "We then changed the formation and had an incredible reaction." The Coach was also pleased with the atmosphere. "It was a magnificent setting, a great crowd." He was then full of praise for Federico Chiesa after he scored two. "There’s nothing I can say about him, he dragged us through."

Following the match, Chiesa also spoke himself. "We knew that it would be difficult and it was but we were able to show our strength. "Now, we’ll turn our attention straight to the next game. We need to make the semi-final." Poland will be up next on Wednesday, still in Bologna and it could be vital in determining who makes the semi-finals.

Squad list for the European Championship

Goalkeepers: Emil Audero (Sampdoria), Alex Meret (Napoli), Lorenzo Montipò (Benevento);

Defenders: Claud Adjapong (Sassuolo), Alessandro Bastoni (Parma), Kevin Bonifazi (Spal), Arturo Calabresi (Bologna), Federico Dimarco (Parma), Gianluca Mancini (Atalanta), Giuseppe Pezzella (Genoa), Filippo Romagna (Cagliari);

Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Cagliari), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Rolando Mandragora (Udinese), Alessandro Murgia (Spal), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Sandro Tonali (Brescia), Nicolò Zaniolo (Roma);

Forwards: Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Patrick Cutrone (Milan), Moise Bioty Kean (Juventus), Riccardo Orsolini (Bologna), Federico Bonazzoli (Padova).

Staff – Delegation Head: Massimo Ambrosini; Team Manager: Vincenzo Marinelli; National Teams Co-ordinator: Maurizio Viscidi; Head Coach: Luigi Di Biagio; Secretary: Mauro Vladovich; Assistant Coaches: Massimo Mutarelli, Carmine Nunziata; Fitness Coach: Vito Azzone; Goalkeeper Coach: Antonio Chimenti; Match analyst: Filippo Lorenzon; Doctors: Angelo De Carli and Luca Gatteschi; Nutritionist: Cristian Petri; Physiotherapists: Enzo Paolini, Alfonso Casano, Emiliano Bozzetti. National teams department: Manfredi Martino.


Schedule for the European Championship

Sunday 16 June 2019

21:00 ITALY – SPAIN at the Stadio Dall’Ara in Bologna

Monday 17 June 2019

16:30 Meeting with the press (player)

17:30 Training at Casteldebole (first 15 minutes open to the press)

Tuesday 18 June 2019

15:30 UEFA press conference at the Stadio Dall’Ara

17:30 Training at Casteldebole (first 15 minutes open to the press)

Wednesday 19 June 2019

21:00 ITALY – POLAND at the Stadio Dall’Ara in Bologna

Thursday 20 June 2019

16:30 Meeting with the press (player)

17:30 Training at Casteldebole (first 15 minutes open to the press)

Friday 21 June 2019

10:45 Training at Casteldebole (first 15 minutes open to the press)

18:00 Transfer to the Stadio Città del Tricolore

19:15 Walk around at the Stadio Città del Tricolore before then heading to the Hotel Boiardo

19:30 UEFA press conference at the Stadio Città del Tricolore

Saturday 22 June 2019

21:00 BELGIUM – ITALY at the Stadio Città del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia

Saturday 23 June 2019

Players depart from the squad should they be eliminated.

Olympic Play-Off

28 June 21:00 in Cesena

European Championship final 30 June 2019

20:45 Stadio Friuli in Udine