Nazionale A

Azzurri ship five to Germany

After two draws and a win, Italy lose 5-2 to Germany in Mönchengladbach. Kimmich, Gündoğan, Müller and Werner with the goals for the hosts; Gnonto and Bastoni for the Azzurri. Luiz Felipe, Scalvini and Caprari made their debuts

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Azzurri ship five to Germany

Italy tonight lost their first game of the current Nations League campaign as they slumped to a 5-2 defeat to Germany at Borussia-Park in Mönchengladbach. Kimmich (who also scored in Bologna), Gündoğan, Müller and Werner (x2) got the goals for Die Mannschaft as Italy lost their hold on top spot in Group 3, as they were overtaken by Hungary who thumped England 4-0 away from home. The only positive notes from an otherwise sour evening came in the form of Willy Gnonto, who became Italy’s youngest-ever goalscorer at 18 years, seven months and nine days, and also debuts for Luiz Felipe, Scalvini and Caprari, taking the number of debutants under Mancini’s tenure to 50 – twelve in the last two weeks.

This new era of Italian football, which began against Germany in Bologna ten days ago, suffered a brutal setback, but one that will not arrest this rebuild. It takes time to build a young team.

THE GAME. It was the fifth game in 14 days and a fifth new-look side from Mancini, as only Donnarumma and Frattesi kept their starting berths from the England game. Bastoni and Gianluca Mancini formed a centre-back partnership, with Calabria and Spinazzola on either side of them. Cristante and Barella were restored to the midfield alongside Frattesi, while up front, the Italy boss returned to the trio that started a week ago against Hungary: Raspadori, Gnonto and Politano. In the wake of four consecutive 1-1 draws, Hansi Flick went with Timo Werner ahead of Havertz as the spearhead of his 4-2-3-1 formation, with Müller, Sané and Hofmann in behind him.

Spurred on by the sell-out crowd at Borussia-Park, the hosts started strongly and, in the seventh minute, went close through Sané, who sent his effort just wide of Donnarumma’s right-hand upright. Italy responded well and, one minute later, Raspadori got a glancing touch on Politano’s cross but Neuer produced a splendid stop. However, Flick’s men took their second chance: Werner played it to Raum, who sent it into the box where Kimmich found a bit of space and fired home. A goal down after ten minutes…

The Germans’ high press caused Italy to struggle to play out from the back. At the half-hour mark, Sané and Werner led the counter-charge and worked it to Hofmann, who forced Donnarumma into a stunning diving save. The Azzurri had their chances too: Cristante headed off target before Barella fired high and wide from a good position. Donnarumma made another save in the 40th minute, this time to keep out Werner’s effort. As the half wound to a close, Mancini sent on another debutant as Luiz Felipe repaced Politano. Italy shifted to a back three in the hope that a change in formation would get the Azzurri back level. But there was no time to see any potential benefits as Bastoni brought Hofmann down in the box and Romanian referee Kovacs pointed to the spot. Gündoğan stepped up and made no mistake: 2-0.

Two more debutants entered the stage at the start of the second half: Scalcini and Caprari took the places of Frattesi and Raspadori. Cristante had a go (wide? as did Calabria (blocked). In the 51st minute, Müller wrapped it up: cross from the left, Spinazzola failed to clear his lines and the Bayern star smashed it home. Germany then scored goals four and five in the space of two minutes, both through Werner, first from a Gnabry assist and then following a mistake from Donnarumma. 5-0.

Wilfried Gnonto pulled one back for the Azzurri, tapping home after Neuer failed to rein in Dimarco’s cross to score his first goal. And from a Dimarco corner, Bastoni also scored his first Italy goal, beating Neuer with a header to make it 5-2. The Azzurri’s season finishes on a sour note. We’re back in September when Italy host England before travelling to Hungary for the final group game.