Italy will play their first competitive match in almost a year as they prepare to host Poland in their opening match of the UEFA Nations League in Bologna on Friday.
New manager Roberto Mancini has brought in eight uncapped players in a bid to utilise the hot prospects that the Azzurri currently possess, and provide them with the glittering stage that is the UEFA Nations League to introduce themselves to the world.
The former Manchester City manager’s first objective will be to nail down a starting eleven that can provide consistent performances to produce results, which was the main factor in their failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia last summer.
With a interesting encounter on the horizon, here is how we expect Italy to lineup when they face Poland on Friday.
1. Goalkeepers and Defenders
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK) – The AC Milan shot stopper still has buckets of potential at his mercy, should start here as the youngster is still learning.
Davide Zappacosta (RB) – The Chelsea full back is yet to feature for the Blues this season despite playing 22 times in the last campaign, expected to start for the purpose of playing time and to gain match fitness.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – Expected to feature and to be reunited with Chiellini at the heart of the Italian defence.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB) – The Juventus centre back returns after almost a year away from the national side and is expected to start alongside his club defensive partner.
Domenico Criscito (LB) – The highly experienced left back returns to Serie A after seven seasons playing for Russian side Zenit St Petersburg and has got himself two assists for his new side Genoa so far this season.
Bryan Cristante (CM) – On loan from Atlanta, the Roma midfielder has only featured once for the Azzurri as a substitute and should get his first full cap here.
Jorginho (CM) – Arguably one of the most gifted technical footballers in the world currently, the new Chelsea man could be a key member of this Azzurri side going forward.
Lorenzo Pellegrini (CM) – The promising 22-year-old is equipped with Champions League experience and has been rewarded after a string of impressive performances for the U-21 side. Pellegrini is also expected to earn his first full cap.
Federico Chiesa (RW) – At the tender age of 20, Chiesa has put himself on the map as one of Fiorentina’s brightest young prospects. The youngster has had a great start to the season for his club and will prove to be a critical piece to the Azzurri puzzle in this game.
Ciro Immobile (ST) – Lazio’s best player and one of Europe’s finest strikers. On his day, the 28-year-old is unplayable and simply has to feature.
Lorenzo Insigne (LW) – Not only can the Napoli forward score goals, but he can also be the key provider when called upon. Eight goals in Serie A last season as well as 11 assists proves that Insigne is the selfless player that Italy need.