GUAV

News Sports

How Roberto Mancini turned Italy from World Cup flops into Euro 2020 contenders

15 min read
Advertisement

Roberto ManciniItaly are unbeaten at home under Roberto Mancini, with 11 victories and six draws in 17 fixtures

After the dark days of Italy's 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Roberto Mancini's side face Turkey in the European Championship curtain-raiser on Friday as one of the pre-tournament favourites.

The Azzurri go into the contest in Rome on the back of a 27-game unbeaten run having completed a remarkable turnaround under the former Manchester City boss.

Tears, international retirements, resignations and widespread condemnation accompanied their failure to reach a World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

BBC Sport examines how a nation at its lowest footballing ebb and a manager at a crossroads restored pride, forged a new identity and rediscovered a winning blend prior to their first tournament match on home soil since the 1990 World Cup.

'Italy needed Mancini and he needed Italy'

Содержание статьи:

Italy's leading sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport called the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign "the end" and Corriere dello Sport's headline likened it to "the Apocalypse".

But six months after the departure of former boss Gian Piero Ventura and with the Azzurri still seemingly in limbo, Mancini stepped forward.

The 56-year-old came to the rescue after spells at Galatasaray and Zenit St Petersburg bookended an underwhelming return to Inter Milan.

"It looked as though he was doing the washed-up managerial tour and his time as a leading boss at the top of the game was gone. But Italy needed Mancini and he needed Italy," says European football writer James Horncastle.

Italian daily newspapersItalian newspapers universally condemned Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup in 2018

It proved a watershed moment and provided a surge of optimism.

"When he was appointed as the Italian national coach there was a lot of euphoria in the country that he was taking over because he is well respected in the game," former Italy and Chelsea midfielder Roberto di Matteo tells BBC Sport.

"He's a legend in Italy. I don't think there was ever any doubt over his quality as a manager or around his coaching."

His reign got under way with a low-key 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia, followed by a five-game winless run. But since then Italy have been virtually unstoppable, with Mancini's 74% win ratio the highest of any Italy head coach.

"It was a matter of having a charismatic leader and somebody who fans and players could look up to for what he has achieved," adds Italian football writer Danielle Verri.

"He won league titles with City and Inter, he won the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina and Lazio and has done well everywhere he has been. He has good players but deserves credit for helping this side to develop and flourish.

"There has been a huge sense of positivity since he came in. You can see that in the attitude of the players at the training camps and those vibes are evident in the way they play."

Breaking with tradition and blooding youth

Mancini's pledge to deliver a "rebirth" began by discarding the conservative counter-attacking style that has helped the country lift four World Cups.

"It went against tradition but after not qualifying for the World Cup he could have probably done anything because that was such a low," Di Matteo says.

"It has been very well received by fans. All his players are brave [on the ball] and play in teams that play progressive football, so it was the right thing to do."

Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nicolo Barella and Federico Chiesa (from left to right)Gianluigi Donnarumma (second left) is part of the new guard of players to become regulars under Mancini

Italy's bold approach in a fluid 4-3-3 formation has seen them score 53 goals in their past 17 games, while conceding just three.

There has also been a considerable emphasis placed on youth, with six of the squad to reach the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship in 2017 blended in with old stagers like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

Mancini has also not been afraid to look past the traditional Italian giants in his search for players, handing a debut to a then 21-year-old Nicolo Barella, long before the midfielder switched from Cagliari to Inter.

More recently, Sassuolo's 21-year-old forward Giacomo Raspadori – who has been compared to Italy great Paolo Rossi – became the 35th debutant of 67 players to feature during Mancini's tenure.

Although not universally popular, Italy even produced a special green "renaissance" kit in October 2019, designed to celebrate their numerous emerging talents.

"It just shows the strength in depth and the quality of the new crop of players that have come through from the Under-21s and in Serie A," says Di Matteo.

Are Italy genuine Euros contenders?

Italy's tag as one of several favourites for the tournament appears justified given they qualified for the Euros with three games to spare and won all 10 matches in the process.

Brushing past the Netherlands, Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina to reach October's Nations League finals was also another notable milestone for Mancini's improving side.

And with the likes of 2020 European golden shoe winner Ciro Immobile and several of an exciting attacking supporting cast in fine form, Di Matteo says there "is a quiet confidence" they could advance towards a first major final since Euro 2012.

"Barella had an outstanding season and Juventus winger Federico Chiesa is a great talent," adds the former Chelsea manager.

"He can turn a game around on its own. He could be one that turns out as a surprise because I'm not sure many people know all about him.

"Immobile has scored goals for fun in the past two to three years and obviously you have Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Andrea Belotti. There is plenty of firepower."

Ciro ImmobileCiro Immobile has scored 123 goals in 177 Serie A matches for Lazio and six in his past 11 appearances for Italy

Mancini also has the luxury of a world-class midfield, with Champions League winner Jorginho and Paris St-Germain playmaker Marco Verratti capable of dictating the play.

"There are few teams that can match Italy in that department," Verri adds.

"Barella has the running power and there are still the likes of Federico Bernardeschi, Manuel Locatelli and Bryan Cristante if they need to alter."

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueIt's a mum-eat-mum world: Motherland returns for a third season of playdate politics and PTA terrorYou're Dead to Me: Was Lord Byron the most scandalous celebrity of the 19th century?commentsView Comments235

Comments

Join the conversation

To use comments you will need to have JavaScript enabled.
235 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost RepliedS

Comment posted by Strangely Brown, today at 10:40Strangely Brown

10:40Italy haven’t lost a game for over 3 years and have conceded only 6 in that time. The last time they were playing this well they won the world cup in 2006.

They have a tough run to the final but should be very hard to beat.502A

Reply posted by AndyB_MOT, today at 12:10AndyB_MOT

12:10to Strangely Brown"Italy haven’t lost a game for over 3 years and have conceded only 6 in that time. The last time they were playing this well they won the world cup in 2006. They have a tough run to the final but should be very hard to beat."AndyB_MOT replied: People talking as if 2006 was fresh in their memory but it’s really not that recent. Tony Blair was still PM, Adele hadn’t released her first album, the iPhone didn’t yet exist, and most importantly every player from that Italy team has since retired.

They’re in form, no doubt about that, but the two situations aren’t comparable.823More replies (1)downP

Comment posted by pete, today at 11:26pete

11:26The only reason England are favourites with English bookies is because they’re so well backed. Italy are the best bet.
Incidentally, England are 15/1 to go out first round….that’s worth thinking about.465F

Reply posted by footballcrazy, today at 15:00footballcrazy

15:00to pete"The only reason England are favourites with English bookies is because they’re so well backed. Italy are the best bet. Incidentally, England are 15/1 to go out first round….that’s worth thinking about."footballcrazy replied: A sarcastic self flagellating Englishman is now more of a british cliche than tea and crumpets. Thats 90% of bbc comments for you..137More replies (5)downJ

Comment posted by jamois, today at 10:35jamois

10:35They’re the dark horses for this tournament. A good draw + tournament know how. And they’re not French.314E

Reply posted by Egg sandwich, today at 11:12Egg sandwich

11:12to jamois"They’re the dark horses for this tournament. A good draw + tournament know how. And they’re not French."Egg sandwich replied: So if they’re French they will lose? I don’t understand this post!58More replies (5)downI

Comment posted by itsshaiano, today at 11:45itsshaiano

11:45Italy are a dark horse, but I’m really happy Mancini is succeeding as he fully deserves.

As a City fan, he turned us from a average/poor side into title winners alongside some brilliant football and made key signings which set us up for the future. Pep is doing great, but the Mancini years at City will always be my favourite!295T

Reply posted by that swashbuckling polander of garwolin, today at 11:47that swashbuckling polander of garwolin

11:47to itsshaiano"Italy are a dark horse, but I’m really happy Mancini is succeeding as he fully deserves.As a City fan, he turned us from a average/poor side into title winners alongside some brilliant football and made key signings which set us up for the future. Pep is doing great, but the Mancini years at City will always be my favourite!"that swashbuckling polander of garwolin replied: He did not. Money did.1522More replies (12)downH

Comment posted by Hedley Lamarr , today at 11:14Hedley Lamarr

11:14teams like italy & germany always come good when it matters. The idea that england are somehow favourites or contenders for some is laughable. There are people on here talking about italy having an aged defence, so do spain. But i’d rather an aged defence that are good than a younger defence which is dodgy like ours. If someone like ogbonna at west ham is getting overlooked they must be good.231L

Reply posted by Lonster, today at 11:44Lonster

11:44to Hedley Lamarr "teams like italy & germany always come good when it matters. The idea that england are somehow favourites or contenders for some is laughable. There are people on here talking about italy having an aged defence, so do spain. But i’d rather an aged defence that are good than a younger defence which is dodgy like ours. If someone like ogbonna at west ham is getting overlooked they must be good."Lonster replied: Germany didn’t get passed the group stage at WC 2018 and Italy failed to qualify full stop. So they always come good when it matters?817More replies (5)downT

Advertisement
Advertisement

Comment posted by TheWinners, today at 15:59TheWinners

15:59Roberto Mancini:
4 x League titles
6 x Domestic cups

Gareth Southgate:
…161B

Reply posted by Bernard Righton, today at 16:01Bernard Righton

16:01to TheWinners"Roberto Mancini:4 x League titles6 x Domestic cupsGareth Southgate:…"Bernard Righton replied: Pizza advert and he’s not even Italian.100More replies (3)downB

Comment posted by bctyhkhr, today at 10:35bctyhkhr

10:35Italy will prove to be the team to beat.172F

Reply posted by fjortoft9, today at 15:43fjortoft9

15:43to bctyhkhr"Italy will prove to be the team to beat."fjortoft9 replied: They’re not that great. Aging defence and fairly average attack. There are 8 teams who have a decent chance of winning it and Italy are one of those but I wouldn’t say the chances are particularly high, less than 10%.08B

Comment posted by Bricksnmortar, today at 15:01Bricksnmortar

15:01I have loved football all my life. I would at one time have been really excited about this tournament. I’m still interested, but I am dreading the diving, squealing, cheating, and worst of all, the drivel, inane commentary and woeful “punditry” to which we are now subjected when watching football on telly. Hundreds of monosyllabic ex-pros. waffling on for hours without saying anything at all. :(151B

Reply posted by Bernard Righton, today at 16:10Bernard Righton

16:10to Bricksnmortar"I have loved football all my life. I would at one time have been really excited about this tournament. I’m still interested, but I am dreading the diving, squealing, cheating, and worst of all, the drivel, inane commentary and woeful “punditry” to which we are now subjected when watching football on telly. Hundreds of monosyllabic ex-pros. waffling on for hours without saying anything at all. :("Bernard Righton replied: And we’re somehow meant to be enlightened by Ashley Cole’s analysis. We’re sometimes treated to some sort of rare conglomeration of his lonely brain cells.90More replies (2)downI

Comment posted by Idunno, today at 10:29Idunno

10:29Good to see Italy back as a world force. Whatever style of play they use it always comes with flair and passion. My choice to win the Euros151P

Comment posted by push6, today at 12:38push6

12:38Italy have always been there despite no 2018…
On an England note, Mourinhi has England in a 4-2-3-1 with D. Henderson Chillwell Mings Stones Walker, Rice Phillips Grealish Mount Foden Kane… Sensible chap that Jose, dropping Jordan Henderson despite the ‘leadership’😹🤡152B

Reply posted by Bricksnmortar, today at 14:52Bricksnmortar

14:52to push6"Italy have always been there despite no 2018…On an England note, Mourinhi has England in a 4-2-3-1 with D. Henderson Chillwell Mings Stones Walker, Rice Phillips Grealish Mount Foden Kane… Sensible chap that Jose, dropping Jordan Henderson despite the ‘leadership’😹🤡"Bricksnmortar replied: Have to say that if when I was playing, people had constantly referred to nothing else but my “leadership” qualities, I’d have begun to wonder about the rest of my game.62More replies (5)downO

Comment posted by Oakwood Blue, today at 12:09Oakwood Blue

12:09We played some great stuff under Bobby Manc and he’s clearly doing the same with his national team. You don’t go so long unbeaten without having a sound style of play. Definitely contenders to win the whole thing.130V

Comment posted by Von Strunkel, today at 14:27Von Strunkel

14:27at last – a chance for the pundits to wheel out 1000 useless meaningless statics to validate their existance – theses matches are nothing more than an average premier league game dressed up by self serving members of a small inner sanctum – I just hope the female pundits are paid as much for their insight into a game we can all see and understand.90B

Reply posted by Bernard Righton, today at 14:29Bernard Righton

14:29to Von Strunkel"at last – a chance for the pundits to wheel out 1000 useless meaningless statics to validate their existance – theses matches are nothing more than an average premier league game dressed up by self serving members of a small inner sanctum – I just hope the female pundits are paid as much for their insight into a game we can all see and understand."Bernard Righton replied: Yes. More Alex Scott.30More replies (5)down1

Comment posted by 1fell, today at 13:191fell

13:19I got Italy in the work sweepstake.

Not a bad punt at all I think.

In with a shot without doubt.90M

Reply posted by markyc, today at 14:33markyc

14:33to 1fell"I got Italy in the work sweepstake. Not a bad punt at all I think. In with a shot without doubt."markyc replied: Yes, dark horse team.00S

Comment posted by surfing seadog, today at 11:47surfing seadog

11:47Italyy my choice too. England are too negative and are full of pansies. No fighters. Spain are even worse than England, if that is possible. Germany can be flaky. France perhaps the other team who have a great chance of winning. Holland no chance. Portugal no chance. Belgium always bottle it when it matters so can’t see them winning. Italy have some excellent young players.91H

Reply posted by hugodude1, today at 12:30hugodude1

12:30to surfing seadog"Italyy my choice too. England are too negative and are full of pansies. No fighters. Spain are even worse than England, if that is possible. Germany can be flaky. France perhaps the other team who have a great chance of winning. Holland no chance. Portugal no chance. Belgium always bottle it when it matters so can’t see them winning. Italy have some excellent young players."hugodude1 replied: Have to agree with yr analysis. I’ve been an Inter fan for 30+ years and believe that RM has the skill as a coach – he had it in bucket loads as a player..31V

Comment posted by Vinny, today at 16:37Vinny

16:37Kneel for no man ever , stand against ignorance as a priority.70Removed commentR

Comment posted by Roger That, today at 16:28Roger That

16:28Mancini has done well.

Scotland to take the knee at Wembley but not in any of their other games.

Ipso facto – Rio Ferdinand thinks the Scots are uneducated and ignorant?

Do we cancel Rio now or just carry on regardless70B

Reply posted by Bernard Righton, today at 16:33Bernard Righton

16:33to Roger That"Mancini has done well.Scotland to take the knee at Wembley but not in any of their other games.Ipso facto – Rio Ferdinand thinks the Scots are uneducated and ignorant?Do we cancel Rio now or just carry on regardless"Bernard Righton replied: Can’t we just say that it’s a player’s individual choice?31More replies (2)downK

Comment posted by kevirl, today at 13:57kevirl

13:57Better bet than England anyway, they can defend and no dodgy keeper.70L

Comment posted by Lennygizmo, today at 13:07Lennygizmo

13:07Italy…nice safe zone HYS,thank you Auntie 😇🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿.Nothing to see here. I’m off 2to buy a knee brace, been giving me a headache82F

Comment posted by FootieMonster, today at 17:25FootieMonster

17:25Hopefully the start of the games will mean the ned to those DREADFUL BBC adverts..is anyone else sick of the ridiculously crass cartoons…mind you the BBCs makes the ITVs appalling effort look half decent..bring on the football..NOT Crouch’s pocrast or whatever that rubbish is..50B

Reply posted by Bernard Righton, today at 17:31Bernard Righton

17:31to FootieMonster"Hopefully the start of the games will mean the ned to those DREADFUL BBC adverts..is anyone else sick of the ridiculously crass cartoons…mind you the BBCs makes the ITVs appalling effort look half decent..bring on the football..NOT Crouch’s pocrast or whatever that rubbish is.."Bernard Righton replied: Peter Crouch the Aquarian? Big head, little brain and big teef.20More replies (2)downS

Comment posted by Stephs-In-The-House , today at 17:06Stephs-In-The-House

17:06England better players , Italy better manager , both teams wont win , but if we switched managers our chances would be a lot higher , tbh i,d fancy us to win or go very close61B

Reply posted by Bernard Righton, today at 17:18Bernard Righton

17:18to Stephs-In-The-House "England better players , Italy better manager , both teams wont win , but if we switched managers our chances would be a lot higher , tbh i,d fancy us to win or go very close"Bernard Righton replied: It’s one game at a time, but the likelihood is that England will have to beat one of the favourites in the next round. Hopefully, they’re all tired out by then.

Get through that and England have a chance, but it’ll be tough.20More replies (3)downMore commentsBack to topunknown
Source

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *