Roberto Mancini: Italy boss makes abundance talent claims after Azzurri beat Belgium to bronze medal in Nations League

Roberto Mancini insists it would’ve been a similar performance after Italy beat Belgium if they hadn’t gone down to 10 men against Spain. ‘The amount of choice is very positive.’

The Azzurri got back on track straight away after their 37-match unbeaten run was ended by Spain, beating Belgium 2-1 to take the bronze medal in the 2021 Nations League.

Nicolò Barella’s volley and a Domenico Berardi penalty earned by Federico Chiesa allowed the 2-1 victory, with Charles De Ketelaere scoring a late counter-attack consolation goal.

“We saw the Italy of the Euros against Spain too, but it’s tough to play down to 10 men. Without that, it would’ve been a similar performance to today,” Mancini told RAI Sport.

The Italy boss changed five players from those who started against Spain, keeping only Barella in midfield, bringing in Lorenzo Pellegrini and Manuel Locatelli.

While options in attack seem to be limited, the Nazionale has an abundance of talent in the middle of the park.

“We have different qualities and options in midfield, they showed today that they can do very well, so that amount of choice is very positive,” added Mancini.

“Chiesa can play on the right, left, it makes little difference to him. He is an important player. Berardi and Raspadori did well, so did Moise Kean when he came on.”

This was Mancini’s 30th victory in 44 games on the Italy bench.

In August, Mancini was linked with a return to England with many Premier League clubs interested in the Italian manager. The reports in Italy had claimed a number of Premier League clubs had already contacted the former Manchester City boss.

However, he insisted to remain with Italy national team to qualify them to the next World Cup.

Asked about reported interest in him, Mancini said on one Sunday: “My goal is to do well in the European Championships and do well in the World Cup. It would be a regret to leave the national team to someone else.

“No one tried to hire me this summer.”

The 55-year-old, who steered Manchester City to the 2012 Premier League title and Inter to successive Scudetto successes from 2006 to 2008, believes the future looks bright for Italy, with the rescheduled Euros to be followed by the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

Mancini added, quoted widely in the Italian media: “We started this job two years ago with great difficulties and despite everything I think we managed to do a great job and we hope to improve it even more.”

The postponement of Euro 2020 until next year has disrupted plans, with Mancini’s focus now falling on the Nations League games that lie ahead for Italy.

They face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Florence on Friday, before tackling Netherlands in Amsterdam on the following Monday.

Mancini also spoke about the appointment of former Italy coach Marcello Lippi to the role of technical director with the Italian federation (FIGC), following speculation he was disenchanted at not being consulted.

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