Bologna (Italy) (AFP) – An Italy deeply renewed by Roberto Mancini, with no less than six new Azzurri celebrating their first selection, resisted Germany (1-1) on Saturday in Bologna on the first day of the League of Nations.
Still undefeated (eight wins, two draws) since Hansi Flick took over as coach in September 2021, the Mannschaft have certainly had the best chances to win this 36th edition of this European football classic.
But the Nazionale, despite its stagnant morale three days after being slapped by Argentina (3-0), had the resources to find the first fault after the entry of an 18-year-old Wilfried Gnonto, playing for FC Zürich, authored a decisive overflow for Lorenzo Pellegrini (70th).
That wasn’t enough to shake up this solid Germany again, who equalized just after by Joshua Kimmich (73rd).
Less than a year ago, however, the profiles were reversed at the end of the Euro: the Mannschaft had come out weakened, beaten by England (2-0) in the round of 16, and Italy sparkling, after mating in the final these same English (1-1 ap, 3-2 tab).
Bonucci in the stands
But everything has changed since then: Germany is shining again and has even been the first nation (outside the host country) to win its ticket to the 2022 World Cup, where it will have a say.
Italy, meanwhile, missed the plane for Qatar by stumbling against Northern Macedonia (0-1) in the play-offs in March, and went back to normal, pale as their new light blue jersey.
But what’s better than an ancestral poster against Germany trying to revive a troubled Italy?
This was Mancini’s hope, on this field where he played his first Serie A game as a player, more than 40 years ago, determined to change everything for his 50th on the bench of the Nazionale.
Many of the heroes of the Euro were at home (Verratti, Chiesa, Jorginho, Insigne, Immobile) and the others on the bench (Barella) see in the stands (the new title captain Bonucci, Locatelli, Belotti).
Only Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alessandro Florenzi, with the armband, recalled the “magic nights” of the Euro in this team entrusted to the youth of Alessandro Bastoni in defense, Sandro Tonali in the middle of Gianluca Scamacca in attack.
Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi, 22, celebrated his first appearance, imitated by five other young Azzurri in the second period.
This rebuilding Italy obviously suffered as soon as the German attackers accelerated.
Donnarumma repulsed a close-range shot from Serge Gnabry (15th) and Florenzi sacrificed himself on a shot from Thomas Müller (25th). Then Gnabry missed the frame after a beautiful German action (38th).
But little by little, the Nazionale dared to go and sting Germany. Frattesi missed the frame (34th) but Scamacca found the post from a distance (35th). The latter stood out again with a header (47th) and an attempt to turn too central (53rd).
Mancini then launched Gnonto: the unexpected FC Zurich striker awakened Italian hope by overflowing Thilo Kehrer to find Pellegrini in the six meters (70th).
However, Germany immediately equalized by taking advantage of a fragile Italian defense, with Joshua Kimmich quickest to pick up a poorly pushed ball (73rd).
But Donnarumma managed to keep that point in a hot end to the game, which looks like a starting point for Mancini.
© 2022 AFP