In Bologna, the Italians and Germans drew 1-1 in their first Nations League game. Wilfried Gnonto from FC Zurich has made his first selection.
An Italy radically renewed by Roberto Mancini, with no fewer than six new Azzurri celebrating their first selection, held off Germany 1-1 on the first day of the League of Nations in Bologna on Saturday.
Unbeaten since the arrival of Hansi Flick as coach in September 2021 (eight wins, two draws), the team certainly had the best chance of winning this 36th edition of this European football classic.
Prepared by Gnonto
But the Nazionale, despite their morale at half-staff three days after Argentina’s (3-0) slap in the face, had the resources to find the error first after an 18-year-old, Wilfried Gnonto, playing alongside Swiss champions FC Zurich, originator of a crucial defection for Lorenzo Pellegrini (70′).
But that wasn’t enough to shake Germany, which was once again solid and equalized shortly afterwards with Joshua Kimmich (73rd).
Less than a year ago, however, profiles were reversed at the end of the EURO: the team emerged weakened from the round of 16 against England (0-2) and shone in Italy after beating the same Englanders in the final (1-1 after, 3:2 after penalties).
Bonucci in the stands
But since then everything has changed: Germany shines again and even became the first nation (without the host country) to win its ticket for the 2022 World Cup, where it will have its say.
Italy, on the other hand, missed the flight to Qatar after stumbling against North Macedonia (0-1) in the play-off in March and went back to normal, pale as their new light blue kit. But what better than an ancestral poster against Germany to try to revitalize a disoriented Italy?
It was Mancini’s hope, on the pitch 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 Nazionale bench.
Many of the Euro heroes were at home (Verratti, Chiesa, Jorginho, Insigne, Immobile) and the others on the bench (Barella) in the stands (new title captains Bonucci, Locatelli, Belotti).
Only Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alessandro Florenzi with the armband recalled the “magic nights” of the Euro in this team entrusted to youth by Alessandro Bastoni in defense, Sandro Tonali in the middle by Gianluca Scamacca in attack.
Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi, 22, made his debut followed by five other young Azzurri in the second half. This rebuilding Italy obviously suffered as soon as the German attackers accelerated.
Donnarumma deflected a shot from a tight angle by Serge Gnabry (15′) and Florenzi sacrificed himself to a shot by Thomas Müller (25′). Then Gnabry missed the goal after good German action (38th).
But gradually the Nazionale dared to prick Germany. Frattesi missed the goal (34′), but Scamacca hit the post from afar (35′). The latter was emphasized again with a header to the side (47th) and a return attempt that was too central (53rd).
Mancini then launched Gnonto: the unexpected FC Zürich striker sparked Italian hope by rolling over Thilo Kehrer to find Pellegrini within six yards (70′).
However, Germany immediately equalized by exploiting a weak Italian defence, Joshua Kimmich was the quickest to take back a badly saved ball (73′). But Donnarumma was able to save that point in a torrid end of the game that looks like a fresh start for Mancini.
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