After a 1-1 draw with Poland in the UEFA Nations League, it became increasingly clear to me that Italy’s national team is simply not as good as it once was.
In fact, last week’s match with Poland showed that Italy is not the dominant team it used to be.
Now, heading into today’s match with Portugal, it appears Roberto Mancini has dropped Mario Balotelli. Not that he had a spectacular match with Poland.
”Mario needs to play, he is an experienced player on the international stage, but his fitness levels are an issue right now,” explained Mancini of the 28-year-old Nice player.
In fact, if not for Jorginho’s 88th minute penalty, the Azzurri may have likely dropped the match to Poland.
And even without Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup, a win against Portugal is certainly not assured.
All-in-all, this Italy team is weak.
Their defense was exploited by an even weaker Polish team even with Robert Lewandowski. It is a defense that was hampered by silly technical mistakes where players didn’t mark properly and got caught in possession to a point where they were unable to get back in time to help the defense.
Offensively, Italy is anemic. Balotelli is just one example of a player that should be in top condition, but it certainly isn’t showing on the pitch. Lorenzo Insigne never found a rhythm and, despite the ballyhoo, Fiorentina striker Federico Chiesa never got into the match either. Andrea Belotti never really impressed either.
This recent performance just capitalized on the lack of qualification to the World Cup for Italy.
Yes, they were in a tough group, but to get bested by Sweden is something that should never have happened in the first place.
For the last year, this has been a team that has lacked confidence and swagger that previous Italian teams have had mounds of. Their style of play has been timid to say the least and that hasn’t shown any signs of improving.
Mancini would have us believe that because fewer national team players are actually playing top-flight football his team lacks the overall experience to make an impact.
Maybe the reason behind that is Italians aren’t good enough to play that kind of football on a regular basis. Essentially, the rest of the world has caught up to the experience level Italians once enjoyed with Brazil and Germany.
This team is weak because of factors like that and because the FIGC — the federation overseeing football in Italy — has been in such disarray of late that it has been difficult for players to get excited about playing for the national team.
What do you think? Post your comments below!