Nazionale U21

U21 Euros. Nicolato: “We’re not perfect but we have a good group of players”

The Azzurrini are preparing for their quarter-final clash with Portugal on Monday 31 May in Ljubljana

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

U21 Euros. Nicolato: “We’re not perfect but we have a good group of players”

Italy U21 were hard at work at the Olympic training centre at Tirrenia today ahead of the U21 Euro quarter-final fixture with Portugal (21:00 CEST, Monday 31 May). 90 vital minutes in a tournament, which has undergone some format changes. The finals are made up entirely of knock-out fixtures; Italy’s potential semi-final would be in Maribor on 3 June and the final of the competition is being held in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on 6 June.

The Azzurrini’s dream is to reach the peak of European age-group football following 16 years after their fifth, and most recent, championship. This next game is the most important match of the season, and Italy have reached this point following a long road that was full of joy but also replete with obstacles due to vital injuries and suspensions.

This journey has also helped Paolo Nicolato to renew his contract with the FIGC: “It wasn’t a simple renewal,” he said, “and the praise has to go to the Federcalcio and also to the people that have worked with me, who’ve shown great effort and great passion for their work. This was certainly a big factor in me deciding to do this job that I enjoy, that stimulates me a lot.”

This renewal is certainly a good sign of continuity: “I like this hunger to keep going and to improve, which must set us apart. I’m really happy. What matters here is the team, the players and continuing this project of bringing the youth through to the First Team – a project in which we are heavily involved. We’ve managed to coordinate various training camps. This makes not only me happy but also the people that don’t have the platform that I have and who are decisive in this. Our staff, in particular, has been on a top level; I’m really happy to be continuing.”

Nicolato has at his disposal a very united, strong and compact group, which is capable of fighting until the last. “We have a good group of players. Between suspensions, the First Team and injuries, we’re without 15 or so guys, but those that we have are in great condition,” he continued. “We haven’t had any other hindrances save for a few players that haven’t had too much game time, but we cannot be perfect. I have, as always, seen plenty of willingness; the players are happy to play for the National Team and this is something that ingratiates them to us because it means that they’re aware that we’re doing all this in order to assess them.”

The Under-21s, who today were visited by the general secretary of the Italian National Olympic Committee Carlo Mornati, will have a double session both tomorrow and Friday. On Saturday, meanwhile, after a session in the morning, the team will catch a charter flight from Pisa to Ljubljana.

Squad list

Goalkeepers: Marco Carnesecchi (Cremonese), Michele Cerofolini (Reggiana), Alessandro Plizzari (Reggina);

Defenders: Raoul Bellanova (Delfino Pescara), Pietro Beruatto (Vicenza), Enrico Delprato (Reggina), Matteo Lovato (Hellas Verona), Lorenzo Pirola (Monza), Luca Ranieri (SPAL), Marco Sala (SPAL), Alessandro Vogliacco (Pordenone), Gabriele Zappa (Cagliari);

Midfielders: Davide Frattesi (Monza), Giulio Maggiore (Spezia), Youssef Maleh (Venezia), Tommaso Pobega (Spezia), Samuele Ricci (Empoli), Nicolò Rovella (Genoa);

Attackers: Patrick Cutrone (Valencia), Andrea Pinamonti (Inter), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Genoa), Riccardo Sottil (Cagliari).


Schedule (all times CEST)

Wednesday 26 May 2021
10:45 training (behind closed doors
14:00 press conference with Coach Nicolato (via Zoom)
16:30 training (behind closed doors)

Thursday 27 May  2021
10:45 training (behind closed doors)
16:30 training (behind closed doors)

Friday 28 May 2021
10:45 training (behind closed doors)
16:30 training (behind closed doors)

Saturday 29 May 2021
10:30 training
17:00 departure charter flight Pisa – Ljubljana
and transfer to the Four Points by Sheraton

Sunday 30 May 2021
11:00 official training (first 15 mins open to the press)
at the ŽAK training ground
14:00 UEFA press conference with Coach Nicolato and player
(via Zoom)
19:00 walk-around Stadium

Monday 31 May 2021
followed by UEFA press conference (via Zoom)

Tuesday 1 June 2021
in case of elimination, return to Italy will be communicated at a later date

3 June 2021 – 18:00 in Maribor

6 June 2021 – 21:00 Ljubljana