Germany vs Italy 5-2: Mancini Experiment Backfires Dreadfully

Following their draw in Bologna, Germany and Italy clashed heads once again in the fourth round of the UEFA Nations League group stage. However, the encounter at the Borussia Park took a different turn, with the hosts dominating for the large part and thumping their southern neighbors with five goals as Roberto Mancini’s defensive changes ended up backfiring. The Azzurri managed to grab two consolation goals, but it was too little too late, with the final score showing a 5-2 victory for the Germans.

Starting Lineups

Hansi Flick started with his usual 4-2-3-1 lineup, spearheaded by Timo Werner. The Chelsea striker was supported by Jonas Hofmann, Thomas Muller and Leroy Sané, while Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gundogan took the double pivot roles.

Manuel Neuer started in goal for the hosts, with a defensive line composed from Lukas Klostermann, Niklas Sule, Antonio Rudiger and David Raum.

On the other hand, Roberto Mancini continued to tinker with his starting formation. The 4-3-3 lineup was led by the attacking trio of Matteo Politano, Giacomo Raspadori and teenage sensation Wilfried Gnonto. In the middle of park, Bryan Cristante acted as a deep-lying playmaker, supported by Nicolò Barella and Davide Frattesi.

Gianluigi Donnarumma started between the posts as usual for the Azzurri, with Davide Calabria, Gianluca Mancini, Alessandro Bastoni and Leonardo Spinazzola in front of him.

Early Germany Opener

The match began in a high tempo with chances from Sané and Gnonto on both ends. However, it was Kimmich who broke the deadlock at the 10th minute following a wonderful play from Germany and some sloppy defending from Italy.

Mancini played Werner onside, and the striker picked up Raum in the left flank. The latter sent a cross to the box that found Kimmich. The midfielder was allowed all the time and space needed to control the ball and beat the hapless Donnarumma from close range.

Die Mannschaft dominated the proceedings of the first half, while the visitors were spared from a total collapse thanks to a string of fabulous saves from Donnarumma on Hofmann, Sane and Werner.

At the end of the first period, Mancini intervened with a tactical change, taking off Politano in favor of introducing a third center-back in the form of Luiz Felipe, subsequently switching to a 3-5-2 lineup.

Gundogan Doubles the Lead

Unfortunately for the Italian tactician, his northern neighbors weren’t bothered by his ploy, and immediately punished him with a second goal. Bastoni decided to grab a hold of Hofmann for some reason, and the referee had no choice but to point towards the spot. The specialist Gundogan converted it with ease, and the Germans headed to the dressing room with a comfortable lead.

Muller Strikes the Third Blow

Despite an encouraging start to the second half from Italy, Germany made it 3-0 through Muller. A low cross from the left flank was poorly cleared by Spinazzola, and the Bayern Munich legend strikes a vicious volley to kill the Azzurri’s remaining glimmer of hope.

The Routing Continues

Even though the visitors tried their luck with some attempts on Neuer’s goal, it was the Germans who added another two goals courtesy of Werner. The Chelsea man broke his personal duck with a simple tap-in on the back on a magnificent play from Muller and Serge Gnabry, before completing his brace thanks to a poor pass from Donnarumma.

Late Consolation for Italy

After conceding five goals, Italy grabbed a consolation goals thanks to Gnonto who pounced on the rebound following Neuer’s save on Federico Dimarco’s shot. The teenage sensation opens his account with the national team on a forgettable night for the Azzurri.

The introduction of Dimarco proved to the Mancini’s best decision of the evening, as the Inter fullback almost scored a stunning long-range goal, and was only denied by a majestic save from Neuer.

Nonetheless, the super-sub ended up assisting his Nerazzurri teammate Alessandro Bastoni from a last-gasp freekick to improve the final score.

Italy Lose the Lead in Group A3

At the end of the day, Italy ended their international window with their first Nations League defeat and it happened to be a heavy one.

The Azzurri entered as the leaders of group A3, but they slipped to third at the final whistle, while Hungary shockingly rose to the top after thrashing England with four unanswered goals away from home.