The Paradox of Davide Calabria’s Missed Azzurri Call-Up

Milan right back Davide Calabria is experiencing a real paradox. Since the post-lockdown period, the Italian international improved significantly under Stefano Pioli’s tenure. Last time around, Calabria had one of his best season since he joined the Rossoneri senior squad, totaling 32 caps, scoring two goals, an providing many excellent plays.

This year, he is having another remarkable season despite having experienced a slight decline in the middle of the campaign. Calabria has been the undisputed starter at right back for Milan for two seasons in a row, but there still seems to be someone who doubts about his qualities: Roberto Mancini.

In view of the decisive play-offs to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the coach of the Italian national team left Davide Calabria off the Azzurri squad list. That is a paradox, though, as Alessandro Florenzi – who is Calabria’s backup at Milan, was called. Moreover, following the Azzurri right-back starter Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s injury, Calabria’s backup call seemed obvious. But, that was not the case.

Indeed, Mancini preferred to replace Di Lorenzo with Juventus’ Mattia De Sciglio, who has been out of the national team for quite a few years. That was a truly unexpected decision, since the Bianconeri right-back has never been a regular starter for his club either.

Hoping that Mancini got his decision right, a question seems legitimate nonetheless: considering the scarcity of right backs and the need for some experience on the pitch, did Davide Calabria really not deserve a place in Italy’s national team at the moment?