The two well-known world-beaters of the international circuit, Italy and Germany kick start their Nations League campaigns on Saturday evening.
The encounter is considered the beginning of a new dawn for Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. Facing Argentina in a one-off friendly affair, called ‘Finalissima 2022’ (where the winners of the latest editions of Copa America and European Championship locked horns), Italy succumbed to a miserable 3-0 defeat to their South American counterparts. They were disjointed throughout the game and never looked threatening from an attacking perspective.
The winner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Germany, on the other hand, will be playing their first game in the ongoing international window. Italy have already played 90 minutes of football in the same window, which, however, holds little significance, given that Italy’s head coach has already informed that he would make some notable changes in the line-up.
In terms of recent form, Germany have enjoyed a nine-game unbeaten run since their 2-0 defeat to English that ensured their elimination from the European Championship last summer. The Azzurri have registered just one win in their last five games, including their 1-0 loss to North Macedonia that marred their dreams of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
Results in the last five games:
Mancini has already hinted that he will shuffle the cards. And one could expect a few irregular names on the teamsheet. The availability of Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne remains a doubt. Napoli superstar Matteo Politano could get a rare start for his national side on Saturday.
Hansi Flick has led his team to achieve some spectacular results since taking over the managerial throne of the country’s international setup. That said, he has fully fit players at his disposal. All Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and Leroy Sane are expected to start against Italy.
Italy (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Bastoni, Spinazzola; Locatelli, Tonali, Barella; Politano, Scamacca, Pellegrini
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kehrer, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Werner
Germany’s stainless recent records, coupled with the team’s daunting attacking flow that gets heightened with the aid and experience of Thomas Muller, mean Italy already have numerous reasons to worry ahead of the weekend’s fixture. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see how the so-called ‘new generation’ of Italy reacts to their recurring adversities.