Italy went into their final group game in need of a result against Germany after their slightly surprising loss to Czech Republic. Despite this, they looked confident and determined to progress, with a talented squad and a fiery attitude. Di Biagio wasn’t afraid to make changes – leaving Petagna out of the starting lineup and going with a front three of Bernardeschi, Berardi and Chiesa who had earned his place in the eleven. Germany went with a predictable eleven, no changes, including new Dortmund signing Mahmoud Dahoud, Bayern acquisition Serge Gnabry and captain Max Arnold.
Italy’s key players
Breakthrough season last year, just 18 years old, Milan’s goalkeeping sensation embroiled in contract stand-offs and constant speculation. Undoubtedly one of the biggest talents in Italian football and potentially most sought-after goalkeepers in the tournament. Fantastic shot-stopping and dominating physique amongst the attributes making him a key part of the defence. Played every minute of Milan’s Serie A campaign, with 4 man of the match awards.
The 23-year old enjoyed a very good season with Atalanta on the right-hand side, as they went on to secure European football by finishing 4th in Serie A. Fast, physical and a threat going forward, Conti has proven his worth in style this season, making 33 league appearances and scoring an impressive 8 goals and registering 5 assists.
The 21 year old central midfielder, enjoying a good season for Sassuolo, earned his first full international cap. Eyed closely by Roma, with rumours of a buy-back deal on the horizon. Will look to try and control the game in the middle alongside Benassi – both having a fair amount of experience in Serie A. Pellegrini scored 6 goals in the league, contributed 6 assists, and was prominent in his team’s display in the Europa League. Has a fierce shot when alowed space in and around the edge of the area.
22 years old, with a decent season for Torino under his belt, has already played over 80 senior games for his club side as well as taking the captain’s armband for them and this under-21 national side. Scored 5 goals with 2 assists last season, will look to retain possession for his side in midfield, whilst driving forward and looking for opportunities to appear on the edge of the area. Should be a key element in organising and keeping team discipline in the middle of the pitch.
Not always a starter at Serie A club Fiorentina this season, but an impressive entrance onto the big stage for the 19 year old. An exciting winger with flair and skill, still slightly inexperienced but with big things expected and a family name to represent. 3 goals and 2 assists from the right in Serie A, and a Europa League goal to his name, Federico is fast putting himself on the radar.
Another young Fiorentina attacker, albeit with more first team expose and recognition than Chiesa, playing more predominantly as a number 10 for his club, but often roaming out and in-field. His attacking creativity was a big part in Viola’s season, as he contributed 11 goals and 4 assists in 32 appearances last season. His skill on the ball, ability to open up defences and movement off the ball will undoubtedly cause problems to the opposition defence.