How Should Italy Line-up Following The Return of Verratti?

After strong performances against Turkey and Switzerland, the Azzurri’s midfield trio of Manuel Locatelli, Nicolò Barella and Jorginho looked particularly impressive. However, Roberto Mancini is now facing a headache of the good type following the return of Marco Verratti, who ran the show for Italy against Wales.

Whilst the coach opted for a heavy rotation in the last encounter, the Best XI is expected to return for the round of 16 on Saturday. But the question is: Who will Mancini drop in the middle of the park in order to accommodate the retuning Paris Saint Germain star?

Let’s have a look at the options before coming into a final conclusion.


Once upon a time during Giampiero Ventura’s cursed reign, the veteran tactician tried to convince us all that Jorginho and Verratti can’t play together in the same Italy lineup.

Nonetheless, the chemistry between the two talented players is ever-growing, and with the Pescara native being deployed further forward recently, the Chelsea man is the perfect candidate for the deep-lying playmaker role.

The former Napoli man is the only midfielder who started all three group stage matches, as Mancini considers him as one of the backbones of the team.

Manuel Locatelli

Few months ago, the Sassuolo man was on the outside looking in, but after his thrilling performance crowned by a brace against Switzerland, it’s hard to deny him a starting spot.

Blessed with physical strength, an imposing physique and some impressive skills on the ball, the Juventus target possesses everything you’d want to see in a box-to-box midfielder – although he can play as a Regista as well.

Mancini must deal with this situation carefully, as dropping a young player who’s on a red hot form could send a negative signal to the squad in general.

Nicolò Barella

Speaking of box-to-box midfielders, the Inter star is one of the best in this role. Full of energy and determination, he embodies the infamous Italian Grinta.

Although he’s undoubtedly one of the most talented midfielders in Italy, his technical skills are a far cry from the ones possessed by Verratti.

Whilst an important player to the setup, the former Cagliari player is far from being guaranteed a starting spot.

Marco Verratti

Since his ascension to the scene in 2012, Verratti has been the golden boy of this Italy generation, despite never stepping a foot in Serie A.

The 28-year-old is widely regarded as one of the most talented midfielders in the world, and leaving him out wouldn’t make any sense at all.

Domenico Berardi

Here’s an alternative solution. Mancini can drop one of his forwards (namely Berardi) and opt for 4-4-2 formation with a diamond midfield.

In this case, Jorginho would maintain his role as a defensive midfielder, with Verratti and Locatelli acting as the two Mezzalas, and Barella being deployed as attacking midfielder (similarly to Marco Perrotta in 2006).

However, a wise man once said, “if it’s not broken don’t fix it”


The good news for Mancini is that he’ll have some room for manoeuver now, and he may decide to tweak his midfield just a little bit between matches (unless the Azzurri gets shockingly eliminated in the round of 16).

Nevertheless, at this stage of the competition, a clear starting XI is needed, and whilst Barella remains an important soldier for Italy’s cause, he should perhaps be the one who pays the price as Verratti reclaims his rightful spot in the formation.

Read More – Italy – Wales Player Ratings: Midfield Brilliance