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I’m no wizard – Mancini seeks patience for Italy revival – football news

Italy boss Roberto Mancini has asked fans to be patient with him and the national side while he seeks to reverse their recent poor fortunes, stressing that he cannot improve them like a wizard.

The Azzurri ended a five-match winless streak on Sunday with a last-gasp 1-0 triumph away to Poland in the UEFA Nations League to keep their distant hopes of a spot in next year’s finals alive.

Cristiano Biraghi snatched the winner late on after Italy looked like they would be frustrated, having dominated their lacklustre hosts throughout.

Mancini was impressed with his team’s performance throughout and was adamant that they were fully deserving of the three points they picked up, though he still felt the need to temper the expectations of supporters following their first away win since a 1-0 victory against Albania over a year ago.

“We dominated,” the 53-year-old told Rai Sport. “We should have scored earlier and it wouldn’t have been fair if the match had finished 0-0.

“All the boys gave it their best. We know it’ll take time, but this win is an excellent one. We can improve a lot, but we must have patience.

“This is football. You suddenly get a goal right at the end, a goal you deserved, but the game could have also ended scoreless, as it was for some time.

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“A new era has already started, but there is no such thing as wizards.”

Defeat for Poland condemned them to relegation from League A Group 3 in the Nations League while Portugal remain at the top of the table two points clear of Italy with a game in hand.

Mancini’s side will host the European champions next month in the final international break of the year, before they close out 2018 with a friendly against the USA, knowing that their fate will be out of their own hands.

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Mancini demands more from Italy forwards after Portugal loss – football news

Roberto Mancini is demanding more from his forwards after they struggled to threaten in Italy’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to Portugal on Monday.

Mancini started with two out-and-out strikers in Lisbon, but neither Simone Zaza nor Ciro Immobile made much of an impact as Portugal dominated.

Portugal scored the only goal of the game through Andre Silva early in the second half, with the 1-0 win the least Fernando Santos’ men deserved.

The result leaves Italy with a single point from two Nations League games, and Mancini accepts their problem lies in attack.

“Unfortunately, we are making errors and need to try to reduce them,” Mancini told Rai Sport after the game.

“But the boys gave everything they had. We have to score goals in order to win, so we must find new solutions and do more in attack.

“In the first half we had a lot more of the ball with the two forwards, as at least they can play between themselves up there, so it can be an important option.”

Mancini made a total of nine changes from the team which drew 1-1 with Poland last time out, but he defended his selections, adamant the only way Italy will improve is if he gives players chances.

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“We have to let them [the young players] grow, there is nothing else to it,” he said.

“When a player is young and he is just starting out at this level, he is going to have some problems, we knew that was going to happen.

“When our fitness levels get better, that will definitely be a positive, but the main issue we need to resolve is not scoring goals.”

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Italy not returning to greatness anytime soon – football news

Roberto Mancini has a huge task on his hand and he knows it. An insipid Italy slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Portugal in their second Nations League game in Lisbon.

Of course Italy are in a state of rebuilding themselves after their failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup but if anything is to go by, the outlook as fans of the Azzurri will tell you isn’t so optimistic. Ironically for the four-time world champions, it was Andre Silva who scored the winning goal against them, considering the fact that this was a player who struggled to score in Serie A when he was with AC Milan.

But then again that fact truly underlines how low Italian football has sunk. From being able to call upon the likes of Del Piero and Francesco Totti in the past, today’s Azzurri squad relies on Bryan Cristante and Roberto Gagliardini. Not that they are bad players but the just don’t bring the sort of spark that would light up a football match like their esteemed predecessors.

And that was what was sorely missing from Italy’s two matches in the Nations League. They were totally bereft of creativity as they knocked the ball aimlessly hoping for a miracle to happen. It must be said that Jorginho’s presence in this team is a huge blessing, for the former Napoli man looks like the only player who could play that defence splitting pass for the Italians.

Probably the only antidote to Mancini and Italy’s woes right now would be to build the team around the midfielder. It is similar to when the Azzurri and Juventus built their teams around the legendary Andrea Pirlo. This is because Jorginho and Pirlo are not just players who are pass masters but also they make the team tick with their range of passing. They get the team moving and thus need to be protected by their midfield compatriots.

Italy and Mancini will take time to reach the heights and glories of the yesteryear but at the moment that seems a long distance away.

 

 

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‘Portugal strong with or without Ronaldo’ – Mancini – football news

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini feels Portugal are stronger with Cristiano Ronaldo, though the European champions are still a great team without their star captain.

Ronaldo will miss Portugal’s Nations League opener against Italy in Lisbon on Monday after the five-time Ballon d’Or winner opted to skip this month’s internationals.

The 33-year-old forward – who is yet to open his account for Serie A champions Juventus since arriving from Real Madrid – is Portugal’s most-capped player and all-time leading scorer with 85 goals in 154 appearances.

While Portugal felt Ronaldo’s absence in a 1-1 friendly draw against Croatia, Mancini is not taking the Euro 2016 winners for granted.

“Portugal won the last European Cup. They are stronger when Ronaldo is playing,” Mancini said. “But even without Ronaldo the team is very good with lot of technical players.

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“When Ronaldo will not play football anymore, I hope as far as possible for him, Portugal will try to do something different and this is a good chance for them.

“But they are still a great team, even without Ronaldo.”

Italy’s Nations League campaign opened with a difficult 1-1 draw at home to Poland in Group Three on Friday.

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