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Italy Travel to Liechtenstein with Qualification in Hand

Italy’s early qualification means lots of turnover in Vaduz.

Italy v Greece - European Qualifier Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Azzurri set a new team record on Saturday by securing Euro qualification with three matches remaining. Now Roberto Mancini will seek to equal one of the all-time great Italy managers, Vittorio Pozzo, with nine straight victories. That should be no problem for Mancini’s side as it travels to Liechtenstein to take on the Group J bottom feeders.

Liechtenstein vs Italy: September 15th, 20:45 CET/14:45 EDT. Vaduz, Liechtenstein

The Azzurri mauled Liechtenstein 6-0 back on match day two in Parma. On that day Stefano Sensi, Marco Verratti, Fabio Quagliarella (2), Moise Kean, and Leonardo Pavoletti did the damage. A similar result should be the objective, as the Azzurri are 3-0-0 all-time against the hosts having never conceded and never scored less than four against them. However, the score-sheet will look different with four of the five scorers from that day not on the current roster.

The Azzurri are coming off a hard fought 2-0 victory over Greece at the Olimpico, a match where the Greeks frustrated the Azzurri for an hour with some good old cantenaccio. That is until a handball in the 18 yard box spelled doom for the Aegean nation. Jorginho buried the penalty in the 63’ and substitute Federico Bernardeschi added a second 15 minutes later. That was all she wrote for Greece, which had little going forward.

Bernardeschi was one of the bright spots for the Azzurri, after he replaced an injured Federico Chiesa in the first half. Roma’s Leonardo Spinazzola was also dangerous making marauding runs down the left throughout. However, of the XI that started on Saturday, only two are projected to remain the same in Vaduz.

This match will be all about the second tier of players looking to impress Mancini, in hopes of punching their personal tickets to Euro 2020, including Giallorossi regulars Bryan Cristante, Nicoló Zaniolo, and Gianluca Mancini. Injuries to Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stefano Sensi will provide the two Roma midfielders with a rare opportunity in a stacked Azzurri midfield. Depending on how many midfielders Mancini decides to bring to the finals this summer, these two will likely be battling it out for sixth or seventh on the depth chart with Brescia’s Sandro Tonali.

It’s unlikely Mancini will carry that many players for one position at a major tournament, so it’ll be imperative for these two to perform. Gianluca Mancini will also look to impress at center back, although (Roberto) Mancini may have more of an eye toward the future with him, considering Giorgio Chiellini’s return this spring.

Mancini will likely pair Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli in the center of defense with Napoli’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Inter’s Cristiano Biraghi flanking them. Behind them in goal will be veteran Salvatore Sirigu. Jorginho will complete the midfield trio with aforementioned Roma men. Meanwhile, holdover Ciro Immobile will be flanked by Bernardeschi and ex-Roma man Stephan El Shaarawy in attack.

Probable Formations (EuroSport)

LIECHTENSTEIN (4-4-1-1): Buchel, Rechsteiner, Malin, Kaufmann, Goppel; Meier, Hasler, Buchel, Wieser, Salanovic; Gubser. Manager. Kolviðsson

ITALY (4-3-3): Sirigu; Di Lorenzo, Romagnoli, Mancini, Biraghi; Zaniolo, Jorginho, Cristante; Bernardeschi, Immobile, El Shaarawy. Manager. Mancini