Italy Player Ratings vs Croatia: Zaccagni Turns On Hero Mode

Mattia Zaccagni soaked up the limelight as the Italy hero after scoring off the bench to propel the reigning European champions into the Euro 2024 knockouts. Luciano Spalletti’s side trailed Croatia 1-0 heading into the last minute of an eight-minute stoppage time before the Lazio winger scored a beauty to make it 1-1 and seal the Italians’ berth in the round of 16.

Italy headed into proceedings in pole position to reach the knockout stages of the European Championships, boasting a two-point lead over Croatia. Perhaps tucked into a false sense of security, Spalletti’s side approached the game somewhat lackadaisically, allowing the Croats to dictate the tempo the entire first half.

Croatia fired a warning shot in the 54th minute as Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off another heroic save to thwart Luka Modric’s attempt from the spot. However, Italy failed to get the memo, as they remained on the back foot, with the Real Madrid ace punishing a slow defensive reaction to redeem himself with a routine finish from point-blank a minute later.

Modric’s opener was a wake-up call for Italy, who immediately grew into the contest and started creating chances. But after wasting several decent opportunities to equal the scoring, they seemed on the verge of a disaster. That’s when Zaccagni silenced Croatian fans with a superb finish from the edge of the box to fire Italy into the last 16.

Italy (4-2-3-1)

Gianluigi Donnarumma – 8

The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper delivered a world-class performance between the sticks. In addition to saving Modric’s penalty, he made several other crucial stops to keep Italy in the game until the final whistle.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 7

After underperforming in both opening games, the Napoli captain lived up to the billing in the ‘make or break’ fixture, faring equally well on both ends of the pitch.

Alessandro Bastoni – 7.5

Defensive masterclass from the Inter star! He didn’t put his foot wrong tonight and made a game-defining clearance to beat Ante Budimir to a close-range header at 1-0.

Riccardo Calafiori – 7.5

Unfazed by his unfortunate own goal against Spain, the Juventus-linked starlet held up his end of the bargain every step of the way! Calm and collected on the ball, he was up to almost every challenge.

Matteo Darmian – 6

Spalletti’s decision to play him on the left was surprising, especially as Darmian’s notorious inability to use his weaker foot came to the fore in a tournament-deciding encounter.

Jorginho – 6.5

Following an erratic first-half showing, the veteran midfielder found his footing beyond the break to become the cornerstone of Italy’s build-up play.

Nicolo Barella – 7.5

He’s the driving force of this team. Apart from his standard energetic presence in the engine room, he showcased his playmaking skills in the final third, creating several decent chances on either side of halftime.

Lorenzo Pellegrini – 5

Spalletti’s decision to withdraw the Roma talisman at the interval perhaps best illustrates his wasteful display.

Federico Dimaro – 5.5

Deploying him as a winger proved a complete waste. With Italy trying to hurt Croatia on the counter, his lack of pace clipped Gli Azzurri’s wings in the opening hour of play.

Giacomo Raspadori – 6.5

Despite tremendous desire, the diminutive forward couldn’t find the end product.

Mateo Retegui – 6.5

A lack of service inside the box must have been frustrating for the Genoa striker, who fought tooth and nail for every ball.


Davide Frattesi – 6

Federico Chiesa – 7

Gianluca Scamacca – 5.5

Nicolo Fagioli – 6.5

Mattia Zaccagni – 7

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