Italy vs Germany 1-1: Encouraging Start for New-Look Azzurri

At the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna, two of Europe’s biggest superpowers clashed heads in the opening fixture of the UEFA Nations League. The match turned out to be an entertain affair between a new-look Italy and a more experienced Germany, with second half goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Joshua Kimmich grabbing a point for each side.

Roberto Mancini adopted a 4-3-3 makeshift formation spearheaded by Gianluca Scamacca. The Sassuolo striker was supported in attack by Matteo Politano and Pellegrini. Bryan Cristante took the reigns in the middle of the park, supported by Davide Frattesi and Sandro Tonali.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was the only starter who remained in his post after the disappointing Finalissima defeat at the hands of Argentina last Wednesday. Alessandro Florenzi wore the captain’s armband as he joined Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni and Cristiano Biraghi at the back.

On the opposite side, Hansi Flick unleashed a 4-2-3-1 formation with Timo Werner leading the line. The Chelsea forward was supported by a block of Bayern Munich stars. Thomas Muller acted as an attacking midfielder in-between Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane, while Leon Goretzka and Kimmich took the double pivot roles.

At the start of the match, Germany appeared to be the dominant side, building their siege towers around the hosts’ areas, but Italy managed to hang on, preventing their visitors from creating significant chances.

Slowly but surely, the Azzurri started to build some momentum, becoming the more dangerous side in the encounter. Mancini’s men tried to punish their foes through counter attack, but Scamacca and company fell into the offside trap on several occasions.

Nevertheless, the young Sassuolo striker was the author of the most significant chance in the first half, as his low shot from long-range hit the outside of Manuel Neuer’s post.

Die Mannschaft replied with a chance of their own before the end of the first period, but their players couldn’t capitalize on the fumble inside the Italy penalty box, and the halftime whistle blew with Donarrumma still untested.

The second half started where the first had ended, with Italy pushing for an opener and Germany hanging by a thread. Scamacca remained the main source of danger, coming close with a header and then putting Tonali through in front of goal.

In the end, it was 18-year-old Wilfried Gononto who made the difference on his magical Azzurri debut after coming in for the injured Politano. The Zurich youngster asked for the ball on the right flank before cutting to the byline and somehow picking up Pellegrini amidst a sea of defenders. The Roma captain was left with easiest of finishes.

However, the hosts’ celebrations were cut short as their northern neighbors swiftly scored the equalizer. Acerbi made a mess out of clearance, and Kimmich stormed into the box to pounce on the situation and put his side back on level terms.

At the end of the day, the two teams shared the spoils on the back of an entertaining affair. However, the match ended with a worrying scene for Italy, as Donnarumma appeared to be in great agony at the final whistle after sustaining a hand injury.