The Azzurri are one of the most successful nations in world football. They have won 4 World Cups and claimed one European Championship while being finalists in a further 4 competitions. Italy’s most recent success came in the 2006 World Cup as a defence full of all-time greats lead them to the ultimate triumph. Since then though their defensive prowess has started to disappear. In the 2010 and 2014 World Cups they failed to get through the group stage and then failed to qualify all together for the 2018 tournament.
With that embarrassment hanging over their head, Italy are in need of a breath of fresh air and some new ideas if they want to qualify for Euro 2020 and compete for another trophy. Can you be the one to turn the tide and lift the Azzurri back to the top of world football? RealSport has everything you need to know about Italy in Football Manager 19.
Expectations & Philosophies
With no scheduled competition or qualifying campaign there are no expectations from the Italy board. They don’t care about results in the European International League, which have replaced a number of friendlies in your fixture list. However, once the qualifying groups for Euro 2020 are drawn you will be expected to qualify from that with ease and then progress deep into the tournament itself. After the embarrassment of missing the last World Cup Italy will not accept falling flat once again.
Italy’s defensive prowess over the years is still there, albeit under different names. Buffon and Cannavaro are no more but Italy are still a tough nut to crack. Thanks to that fact a fluid counter-attack tactical style would be the best suiting one for them. The first XI midfield can play with the best of them, but the lack of depth in the middle of the park can leave you vulnerable if you try to play a possession-heavy game without the likes of Marco Verratti. This also suits the explosiveness they can field in attack, making them a deadly side on the counter.
The 4-1-4-1 DM suits Italy down to the ground. With Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal and a back four of Alessandro Florenzi, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, and Leonardo Spinazzola their defence is as rock-solid is you can be. Jorginho shields the back four while Marco Verratti and Giacomo Bonaventura are your central midfield pair. The front three are made up of Federico Bernardeschi on the right with Lorenzo Insigne on the left and Ciro Immobile up front.
With an unlimited bench in international fixtures the rest of your squad can be ready at your disposal.
If you are defending a lead or really worried about the attacking options of a France or Germany you can move to a 4-2-1-3 DM Wide formation and slide Verratti further back.
The bulk of Italy’s stars are reaching retirement age now. Gianluigi Buffon has already hung up his national shirt. These are your go-to players for now, but beware that some may soon age out of your squad.
Giorgio Chiellini – CA (171), PA (171)
The linchpin of the Italian defence has been Giorgio Chiellini for a long time now. The 33-year-old has amassed nearly 100 caps for his country and the reason is simple: He’s very good. Chiellini has been at the heart of Italy and Juventus’ backline for so long, but he might not be for much longer.
In FM19 Chiellini’s defensive stats are unparalleled. His 20 work rate, 20 bravery, 19 determination speak of his sheer effort on the field while his 19 tackling, 18 marking, and 16 heading show just how good he is at winning the ball. With a CA and PA of 171 he is at the top of his game, but at 33 expect Chiellini to retire from the national side soon.
Lorenzo Insigne – CA (167), PA (169)
Napoli’s diminutive winger is Italy’s main creative force. Insigne has been with Napoli for his whole career barring some loan spells. He has already amassed nearly 300 appearances for his club with over 70 goals. The left winger is a speedster that is also comfortable playing up front.
In FM19 Insigne is quick with 18 agility, 17 acceleration, and 14 pace. That all works with his quality on the ball to make him a deadly prospect for any defence. With 18 first touch, 17 dribbling, and 17 passing he can create chance after chance.
Leonardo Bonucci – CA (166), PA (174)
If Chiellini calls it a day then his Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci is next in line as your star centre back. At 31 he has a little more left in the tank and should be around for Euro 2020.
Bonucci’s 166 CA is near his ceiling of 174, and he is still a mobile centre back thanks to his 17 stamina and 14 pace. Bonucci’s defensive skill is unquestionable with 16 tackling and 15 marking, but he can also distribute the ball thanks to 17 passing.
Italy’s stars may be near retirement, but they have a number of quality young players coming through that can replace, and maybe even improve on, the players you are about to lose.
Pietro Pellegri – CA (114), PA (160-190)
Pietro Pellegri is just 17 years old, but with a huge PA range of 160-190 he could well become a world-class striker for Italy. He is currently in the Monaco under-19 side, but already has 14 finishing and 15 determination, suggesting that it won’t be long before he is ready to take his first senior international cap and lead the line for Italy.
Nicolo Barella – CA (141), PA (172)
With Italy at their lowest point in a while, shaking up the midfield with some new faces seems to be a good path to getting better. 21-year-old Nicolo Barella is the kind of all-round talent that could well develop into a key squad member for Italy come Euro 2020. With a 141 CA he can be a useful player straight away, but his 172 PA is the real game-changer. With 15 work rate and 15 teamwork you know he can hold his own in the heart of the national side, and with 14 tackling and 14 passing he can play with and without the ball.
Federico Chiesa – CA (152), PA (171)
Italy haven’t produced many impressive wingers, but Federico Chiesa is set to be a quality one for years to come. The 20-year-old has already won a handful of caps but with a 152 CA and 171 PA he is ready to play every game and will dominate the game very quickly. Chiesa already has 15 passing, 15 first touch and 16 dribbling. With 16 pace to go along with it the right winger is a perfect foil for Insigne on the left.
|Alessandro Florenzi||D (R)|
|Davide Zappacosta||D (R)|
|Giorgio Chiellini||D (LC)||33||Juventus||171/171||£24.5m|
|Leonardo Bonucci||D (C)||31||Juventus||166/174||£48.5m|
|Daniele Rugani||D (C)||23||Juventus||152/165||£27.5m|
|Alessio Romagnoli||D (C)||23||Milan||152/169||£25m|
|Leonardo Spinazzola||D (L)|
|Giacomo Bonaventura||M (LC)|
|Matteo Politano||AM (RL)||24||Inter||148/155||£22.5m|
|Federico Bernardeschi||M (R)|
|Federico Chiesa||M (R)|
|Stephan El Shaarawy||AM (RL)|
|Lorenzo Insigne||AM (LC)|
|Ciro Immobile||ST (C)||28||Lazio||158/160||£46.5m|
|Andrea Belotti||ST (C)||24||Torino||150/168||£25m|
Back on form
Getting Italy safely through the Euro 2020 qualifying group is your top priority as the new Azzurri boss. That should be a simple enough task given the overall quality of the players at your disposal. The household names like Daniele De Rossi and Chiellini may not be available for Euro 2020, but there are a lot of quality players waiting in the wings for Italy, especially at centre back and in midfield. Creating chances may be tricky given an overall lack of attacking forces but if you can weather the storm and hit an opponent on the break then Italy can compete for Euro 2020 and beyond. They have some of the best young talent in the game and by the 2022 World Cup they should have developed into squad players at the very least. This is a team you could dominate world football with for a decade.
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