Roberto Mancini believes reaching the Nations League Finals could help to ease the "suffering" coming Italy's way when the World Cup begins.

Italy have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the second time in succession, with their disappointment magnified this time after they won the delayed Euro 2020 in July 2021 but then flopped in the final stages of Qatar 2022 qualifying.

On Friday, the Azzurri tackle England in Milan, a repeat meeting of the European final that Italy won on penalties at Wembley.

The teams have met since that occasion, slogging out a goalless draw at Molineux in June in their initial Nations League clash.

Mancini is hoping this latest reunion stirs something in his players that carries them to victory, given they have ground to make up on Hungary and Germany in Group A3, where England sit surprisingly bottom after four games. The Finals will be contested next June.

“There is enthusiasm for such a beautiful match and something that gives us a reminder," Mancini said. "I think winning the European Championship after 50 years was quite important.

"Getting to the Finals would give us joy, since from mid-November to mid-December there will be suffering.

"Tomorrow we have a very tough match against one of the best teams in the world, full of talents. We will need that team spirit that has always distinguished us. And then we will have to try to play well. Playing in a simple way is always the best thing."

Italy are without the injured Marco Verratti, Sandro Tonali, Matteo Politano and Lorenzo Pellegrini, but even with his midfield resources stretched, Mancini seemingly ruled out a change of system.

"If changing the game system ensured victory, then we would always change it. I don't think it changes much," he said. "Our national team has an identity that is what has led us to do well for a long time."

The game will see Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci line up against England once more, having scored the equaliser that preceded Italy's penalty shoot-out success at Wembley in last year's Euros.

Excluding penalty shoot-outs, England have only lost two of their past 26 matches, both against Hungary in June 2022 (W18 D6). The Three Lions are winless in four matches, however (D2 L2), last having a longer winless run in June 2014 (five matches), with one of those games being a 2-1 defeat to Italy at the World Cup.

Bonucci is hoping Italy can harness memories of Wembley to boost their prospects at San Siro.

The Italians need a pick-me-up after conceding 13 goals in their previous seven matches, including a 5-2 mauling by Germany last time out, the first time the Azzurri had shipped five in a game since a 1957 game against Yugoslavia. Italy had conceded only 15 goals in their previous 40 games before the recent sharp decline.

Bonucci said: “We must not forget the beautiful emotions we experienced. I believe that this national team does not lack enthusiasm, even if it must be amplified with victories.

"Tomorrow is an important match to understand where we are on this new path. There is no better match than this to build something important."

Leonardo Bonucci conceded the jeers from Juventus fans were deserved in the Champions League defeat to Benfica, leaving the Bianconeri captain "worried" by a situation that "needs to be changed".

Juve needed just four minutes to take the lead in Turin as Arkadiusz Milik headed in, only for Joao Mario to restore parity with a first-half penalty.

David Neres secured a deserved three points for Roger Schmidt's side after the interval, with Dusan Vlahovic seeing a goal ruled out for offside and Bremer blasting over as Juve looked to snatch a late equaliser.

That left Juve with just one win in seven European outings against Benfica, who sit level on points with Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Group H after the Ligue 1 side overcame Maccabi Haifa 3-1 on Wednesday.

Defeat also marked the first time Juve have lost their opening two games in the competition's group stage, while it is the first occasion they have lost three games in a row in the European Cup or Champions League since September 1972.

Pressure continues to mount on coach Massimiliano Allegri after just one win in Juve's last seven games, and Bonucci offered an honest appraisal after yet another frustrating performance at the Allianz Stadium.

"The whistles are right. There is little to say. We have lost a game that we absolutely shouldn't have lost," the Italy international told Amazon Prime Video. 

"It is right that we are booed. I am the captain who must put my face to it. We are going through a moment where we find it hard to do everything.

"I'm worried, there is nothing to hide. Unfortunately, we leave the game too often. I don't know why and that's the thing that worries me the most.

"We struggle to keep the games constant. Now there is little to say, we just have to shut up, work and look forward.

"I think it is a situation that needs to be changed certainly. We have many players out, we are always playing the same ones and you feel the fatigue. It is everyone's fault."

Juve remain without a point after two Group H games in the Champions League, and will look to make amends on the return to Serie A action at Monza on Sunday.

Leonardo Bonucci has insisted Arkadiusz Milik's header against Salernitana should have stood as he was "not involved in active play".

Sunday's Serie A clash at the Allianz Stadium saw the hosts fight back from two goals behind and almost take all three points, with Milik scoring in added time.

Further drama would follow as Milik would be shown a second yellow card for taking his top off in celebration, while the goal was controversially ruled out by a VAR check.

Antonio Candreva's position looked to have played Milik onside but Bonucci believes that is irrelevant as he did not interfere with play.

"The explanation was that I was involved in active play, but Sepe would have never caught that, my position didn't interfere with his potential save," he told DAZN.

"That's what the rule says. And then, there is the doubt that Antonio Candreva keeps everyone onside.

"I am less than a metre behind the goal area, Candreva seems to be above. If you see the colour of the turf, Candreva could keep me onside.

"I hope they [referees] considered his position, but I guess we'll never know it. Regardless of that, I was not involved in active play and the Salernitana defender even took my shirt off."

Juventus now turn their attention towards the Champions League fixture against Benfica, then travelling to Monza in the final Serie A match before the international break.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri lamented his team's fortune with VAR after they saw a late winner chalked off in a 2-2 home draw with Salernitana.

Arkadiusz Milik looked to have won the game with a 94th minute header from a corner, but VAR disallowed the goal after the ball took a slight nick off Leonardo Bonucci, who was stood in an offside position.

Bonucci had levelled the match just a minute previously with a rebound from his own missed penalty, as Juventus came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to earn a point.

In addition to Milik's goal being ruled out, the striker was given a second yellow card for his overzealous celebration. A scuffle ensued which saw Juve's Juan Cuadrado and Salernitana's Federico Fazio given straight reds, while Allegri also received his marching orders for his part in the altercation.

Allegri spoke on his VAR frustrations after the game, telling reporters: "I can't give interpretations because I'm not a referee, you have to accept the decisions. I think the referee was good.

"On the goal I would like to see the image where you can see [Antonio] Candreva who is in front of the ball where the corner is taken. I would like to know if there is an image where Candreva is seen.

"Since the beginning of the season we are a bit unlucky with this VAR, we can say this."

Allegri, in his second spell as Juve head coach, was disappointed with his team's first-half reaction to going a goal behind through former Bianconeri wide-man Antonio Candreva, before Krzysztof Piatek doubled the visitors' lead just before the break.

"Let's analyse the game. We played 20 minutes very well, then after the goal we stopped," Allegri added.

"Sooner or later it had to happen to go behind, I wanted to see the reaction. It was the first time we were at a disadvantage and my curiosity was to see how we would react. We didn't react well.

"Then in the second half we played a good match. Salernitana played a good game and I have to congratulate [Davide] Nicola."

Gleison Bremer revealed Juventus greats Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have been invaluable sources of advice since he joined the Bianconeri, as he targeted a spot in Brazil's squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Having been named Serie A's 2021-22 Defender of the Year while starring for Torino, Bremer joined Juve in a reported €40million move after Matthijs de Ligt was sold to Bayern Munich last month.

Bremer led the way across Europe's top five leagues for interceptions last season (105), as well as making more recoveries (284) and winning more aerial duels (132) than any other Serie A player.

The Brazilian has taken Chiellini's number three shirt after he departed for Los Angeles FC, and is doing his best to learn from both him and current Juve skipper Bonucci as the Bianconeri target a first Serie A title since 2019-20.

"I spoke with Giorgio Chiellini - he has been one of the best Italian defenders," Bremer told a news conference on Thursday. 

"He told me I could take his number three shirt, so I followed his suggestion. 

"Since I arrived, I have looked to Leonardo Bonucci for advice, and as captain he has certainly been helping me out.

"We are concentrating on starting the season strongly against Sassuolo on Monday. This year we are all focused on putting the club back on track. We want to win at Juventus - this is a club where I can compete for important titles.

"It's a club that aims to win, to be at the top, so it was the right thing to join Juve.

"Being at Juve means setting your sights high. We want to do well in the Champions League, but we must first focus on Serie A."

 

Despite his eye-catching performances in Italy, Bremer has yet to be handed a call-up by Brazil, who are looking to end a 20-year wait for World Cup success in Qatar later this year.

As the 25-year-old highlighted the role played by compatriots Danilo and Alex Sandro in advising him to join Juve, he set his sights on making a late bid for the Selecao's squad for the tournament.

"It won't be simple here because it's not easy to play for Juventus, but I knew there were Brazilians here and this helped me make my decision," he added.

"I spoke to Danilo and Alex Sandro and they were helpful in making up my mind, and they have helped me settle in straight away. 

"Also, playing for Juventus will help me aim for the World Cup."

Juventus begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign at home to Sassuolo on Monday.

Leonardo Bonnuci feels Matthijs de Ligt's comments on his desire to depart Juventus showed a lack of respect to the Bianconeri, after the latter completed his move to Bayern Munich.

The Netherlands international sealed his switch to the Bundesliga champions from Turin earlier this month, ending his three-year stint at the Allianz Stadium.

De Ligt made no secret of his desire to move away from Juve, particularly after missing out on the Scudetto in each of the last two seasons.

But while Bonucci wishes his former defensive partner the best, he admits he had to address some of his words before he departed.

"De Ligt’s exit didn’t surprise me because certain comments made it clear he didn’t want to stay at Juventus," the Italy international stated after the Bianconeri beat Guadalajara 2-0 in a pre-season friendly in Las Vegas.

"But I think at the end of the day, you need to be respectful. The group he was with for three years helped him grow, and the club invested in him.

"I wish him the best, but certain comments he made on international duty were not very nice. We spoke about it after our holidays, and he understood.

"Bayern are a great club, but just being at a top club doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to win."

Bonucci, meanwhile, has not given up hope of completing his club trophy cabinet.with Juventus, despite their recent drop in form.

A multiple Serie A and Coppa Italia winner during his time in Turin - along with a Euro 2020 triumph with the Azzurri - the Champions League remains the last major club honour to elude him, having been a beaten finalist on two occasions.

"When I joined, my dream was to have a great career and win everything," he added. "I’ve almost achieved it; I’m 90 per cent there. I’m just missing that tiny piece, which hurts us Juve fans.

"Let’s hope that over the next two years of my contract we can find stability in Europe again. Winning is always difficult. The first step is to reach the quarter-finals, then you need luck.

"In a season so unique, anything can happen, so why not believe in Juve’s future in Europe?"

New Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci hopes to start laying the foundations to rebuild the Azzurri when they face Argentina on Wednesday.

Italy won their first European Championship since 1968 by defeating England on penalties last July at Wembley.

Roberto Mancini's side return to Wembley to meet Argentina in the 'Finalissima' between the Euro 2020 winners and Copa America champions.

Italy have struggled since their last visit to England's national stadium; missing out on a second straight World Cup after falling to a stunning play-off defeat against North Macedonia.

Bonucci has replaced Giorgio Chiellini as skipper of both Juventus and Italy, with his defensive partner heading for the exit door in Turin and announcing he will retire from international football following the game against Argentina.

The 35-year-old Bonucci is relishing the challenge of facing Lionel Scaloni's side.

"They are among the best in the world, Argentina hasn't lost in 31 games and it's no coincidence," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We need maximum commitment and respect. We must start again and lay the foundations to bring Italy back to the top."

Argentina captain Lionel Messi suggested Italy would have been favourites for the World Cup should they have appeared in Qatar, and Bonucci expressed his gratitude for those comments.

"The fault is ours, it took very little to be able to play in something truly unique for a player's career," he added.

"We thank Messi for the kind words he said about us; tomorrow two winning national teams will meet and we want to put on a show to take the trophy home."

Bonucci hailed Messi, who will aim to guide Argentina to their third World Cup win and first since 1986.

"For a player who has won so many Golden Balls it is difficult to find words to described him," the Juve defender continued. 

"He was, and still is today, with Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best in the world – great respect will be needed."

As for Chiellini's international retirement, Bonucci hopes to give him a fitting send-off as he outlined his own plans for captaincy.

"We must enjoy this last day with him, he was a great companion on the pitch and in life," he said. "From the day after tomorrow I will continue to do what I have always done, to be an example.

"From Chiellini I learned the ability to work out difficult situations in a short time and find the solution.

"That is the secret that made Giorgio a great person and a great captain, I'll try to smooth out the flaws. My team-mates will have to help me too, just as we helped Chiellini and [Gianluigi] Buffon."

Juventus star Leonardo Bonucci has expressed his admiration for outgoing Bianconeri and Italy team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.

Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter in midweek that this season will be his last for Juve, who the 37-year-old has played for since 2004 and won 20 trophies during his time in Turin.

The veteran defender has already announced he will retire from international duty with Italy as well after a meeting with Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

It will be a fitting end for Chiellini after he lifted the Euro 2020 title at Wembley following a penalty shoot-out victory over England last July alongside long-time team-mate Bonucci.

Reports in Italy suggest Chiellini may opt to play in MLS before taking his vast experience into management or a coaching role.

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed Bonucci will take the captain's armband at Juve for the next campaign, and the centre-back was quick to heap praise on his colleague Chiellini.

The defensive duo won eight Serie A titles together and claimed the Coppa Italia five times, while they also helped Juve reach the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017.

Bonucci posted on Instagram: "Dear Giorgio, where to start?

"I think it has to be from the end. Today is your day and the day the team, these colours, this dressing room starts to miss you. You have been an example, a guidance, a brother, a friend.

"We have shared more than 10 years together, we have rejoiced, we have suffered, we have worked hard, we have closed ranks together, we have fought, we have WON.

"Won a lot with Juve, won something unique with Italy. Being on the pitch alongside you, for me, has been a privilege, an honour. Off the pitch even more so. I have learned from you to be ready for anything.

"Best of luck to you, legend, for what's to come. Whatever it is, you will always do it as the top of the class.

"The invisible piece of rope which followed us onto the pitch will keep us tied together forever in my football battles, in the victories and in the more difficult moments.

"Thank you, captain. I love you."

A clash with Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on Monday will be Chiellini's final home appearance for the Old Lady.

Leonardo Bonucci will be the new captain of Juventus following the announced departure of Giorgio Chiellini, Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed.

The Bianconeri head coach was speaking ahead of Juve's final home game of the season against Lazio and said he wants to "combine all three things", referring to playing well while saying goodbye to outgoing duo Chiellini and Paulo Dybala.

Chiellini confirmed he will leave Juventus at the end of the season following their 4-2 defeat to Inter in the Coppa Italia final.

The veteran centre-back has spent 17 years with the Bianconeri, winning 20 trophies during his time in Turin.

Dybala is also exiting the Allianz Stadium at the end of the campaign and has been linked with the likes of Inter, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United.

"It's the last home game, you have to honour it to the fullest. And then it's Giorgio Chiellini's party and Paulo Dybala's last [game], we have to combine all three things," Allegri told reporters at a media conference on Sunday.

"They are two different things. Giorgio stops or has an experience in America, I don't know. Paulo changes team. Both will have the tribute of the fans, as I believe will [Lazio boss, Maurizio] Sarri, who returns and was the last [head coach] to win the Scudetto with Juve."

As for Juve's next skipper, Allegri added: "The new Juventus captain will be Bonucci."

The former Milan boss was also asked about Paul Pogba, who has been linked with a return to Juve once his contract at Manchester United expires next month.

"Pogba is a United player. Before talking about the transfer market, let's finish the season and then we'll take stock with the club," he said. "We don't have to evaluate not only the market but also what happened during the season at 360 degrees.

"[Do I] remember Paul? I have already forgotten, several years have already passed. I have a full memory card."

Allegri was asked to summarise the season, with Juve qualifying for the Champions League but never really challenging in the Serie A title race.

"I'm satisfied with the path and the goal, but not satisfied to have not won a trophy," he said.

"The team has done its best. Even if I always say, 'let's play with those who are here', in the long run we have paid for traumatic injuries: [Federico] Chiesa, [Weston] McKennie, Danilo, Bonucci… We have players who will certainly grow, then with the club we will improve the shortcomings of this team."

Leonardo Bonucci believes fresh blood is needed for a Juventus squad in the process of "rejuvenation".

Bonucci scored a double, including a 76th-minute winner, on his birthday as Juve took another step towards securing Champions League qualification for next season with a 2-1 Serie A victory over bottom club Venezia.

The result moved Juve 11 points ahead of Roma, who face Bologna later on Sunday.

Eighteen-year-old midfielder Fabio Miretti made an impressive debut, with Bonucci hailing his performance and the infusion of youth into a team that is off the pace in a Scudetto race it has typically dominated in recent years.

“Fabio had a great performance, but we already knew his qualities and had no doubts he’d do well, even if he is young," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia.

"The squad is in the process of rejuvenation and fresh blood is welcome.

“My role is to pass on my experience, that need to never give up and fight to the end."

Referencing his wife's sponsored walk for the hospital that looked after their son when he fell ill following hernia surgery, Bonucci added: "It was a great day for my whole family, it felt like coming full circle after my wife's charity initiative.

"We needed to bring home the win to ensure the last three games wouldn't be too complicated, but Venezia deserve credit for coming here and playing open football.

"We always need to improve, because we've seen that when we've got the engine revved up, we can have our say.

"These last few games need to be training to prepare for next season."

Leonardo Bonucci marked his 35th birthday with two goals as Juventus made hard work of a 2-1 win over bottom side Venezia to all but secure a top-four finish in Serie A.

The Bianconeri had taken just one point from their previous two matches at the Allianz Stadium but did enough to claim victory against Venezia, who have now lost nine in a row.

Full debutant Fabio Miretti played a big part in Bonucci's headed opener inside seven minutes, but Juve were pegged back through a Mattia Aramu strike 19 minutes from time.

However, Bonucci bundled in a late winner to ensure that his side now require just two points from their remaining three games to keep Roma at bay in the battle for fourth.

 

Juve nearly opened the scoring four minutes in when Luca Pellegrini fired a ferocious strike against the crossbar from range.

The hosts did not have to wait much longer for their breakthrough, though, as Matthijs de Ligt nodded Miretti's delivery back across goal for Bonucci to turn in from close range.

Venezia, who sacked Pablo Zanetti this week and placed Andrea Soncin in temporary charge, took full advantage of Juve's failure to kill off the match through Aramu's long-ranger.

That had Venezia on course for successive 1-1 draws against Juve, only for the Bianconeri to snatch all three points when a corner was not dealt with and went in off Bonucci's shin.

What does it mean? A return to home comforts for Juve – just!

Juve have picked up more points on their travels (35) than they have at home this season (34 with this win) and this was another occasion in which they never truly got going.

Massimiliano Allegri's side have lost just one of their past 21 league games overall and also have a Coppa Italia final with Inter to look forward to later this month.

The immediate priority is nailing down fourth place and, barring a miraculous collapse over their remaining three games, that is as good as achieved.

Leonardo leads the way

Bonucci has now scored five Serie A goals for Juventus this season, which is his best tally in a single campaign.

The veteran Italy international has equalled team-mate Giorgio Chiellini as the defender to have found the net in the most years in the competition since 2000 (13).

Mattia makes his mark

Aramu had gone 14 matches between finding the net in Serie A, with his most recent strike prior to today coming in December's draw with Juventus.

The 26-year-old was Venezia's sole attacking spark, registering all three of his side's attempts on target, including that impressive effort from range.

What's next?

Juventus are back in action on Friday with a trip to Genoa, while Venezia travel to fellow strugglers Salernitana on Thursday.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged the Bianconeri's slim title hopes were over despite Dusan Vlahovic's dramatic late equaliser against Bologna.

The Serbian striker scored the 50th goal of his Serie A career five minutes into stoppage time to spare the blushes of the Turin giants, who were on course for an embarrassing loss despite Adama Soumaoro and Gary Medel receiving late red cards for Bologna after Marko Arnautovic's second-half opener.

The result marked the first time Juventus have failed to defeat Bologna since February 2016 and left Allegri's men eight points behind league leaders Milan with just five games remaining, as their hopes of a 10th Scudetto in 11 seasons faded.

Juventus failed to register a single shot on target during a dismal first-half showing, the fifth time they have done so during Allegri's first season back at the helm but first since facing Fiorentina in November.

The 54-year-old insisted after the draw that the Bianconeri were embroiled in a four-way battle for Champions League football rather than the title race, acknowledging his team needed to show more patience against a stubborn Bologna defence. 

"This year Juve is not fighting for the Scudetto," Allegri said. "We had gotten close to Inter, even until today, when we stopped. 

"In football, however, anything could happen. Reaching fourth place remains an important goal. I think Fiorentina have a good calendar and a direct match against us. Then there are also Lazio and Roma.

"We take one step at a time. In football you think one thing and another happens. We have to be calmer. The games last a long time and there is always time to win them."

Juventus hold a lead of six points over fifth-placed Roma in the Serie A table, having played one extra game ahead of the Giallorossi facing Napoli on Monday.

Allegri refused to criticise his team for a below-bar display, however, suggesting they would have lost the same game had it occurred at the start of the season.

"We managed to equalise a match that had become complicated after playing a bad first half," he added. "Immediately [after conceding] we hit the post and shot more on goal. 

"Lately we have conceded too many goals, we need to improve, but we would have lost these games at the beginning of the season. Let's look at the glass half full."

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci also rued the Old Lady's lack of patience when faced with breaking down their opponents, as Bologna avoided defeat at Juventus for the first time since September 2011.

"We tried to push and put pressure on after the equaliser," the 34-year-old said. "With more clarity we could also have scored the second goal, given their numerical inferiority. 

"It was a pity because three points could have given us so much."

With Juve seemingly out of the Serie A title race, their last hope of silverware this season is the Coppa Italia, in which they host Fiorentina on Wednesday after winning their semi-final first leg 1-0.

Leonardo Bonucci has confirmed he will not retire from international football, while backing Roberto Mancini after Italy failed to qualify for a second straight World Cup.

Bonucci was part of Mancini's Azzurri side that responded to not making the 2018 World Cup in Russia by winning Euro 2020 late in July last year.

Italy also embarked on a world-record 37-game unbeaten run, which came to an end against Spain in the Nations League semi-final in October, as they aimed to reach Qatar 2022.

However, Mancini's team could not top their World Cup qualifying group and succumbed to a late 1-0 loss against North Macedonia as Aleksandar Trajkovski delivered the decisive strike in the play-off semi-final on Thursday.

That led to speculation over Mancini's tenure and doubts over whether the national team's senior players would continue into the twilight of their careers, but Bonucci has committed his future to Italy.

"I don't know what Giorgio [Chiellini] will do. On my end, I want to continue to be an example and guide the younger players coming through wearing this shirt," he said at a news conference on Monday.

"The hours after the elimination was tough. We remained quiet during our moments together, like team lunches or dinners. We tried to play down the disappointment by saying that young players will have other opportunities.

"After the coach spoke to us, we put the past behind us and looked to the future. The future is now so we must start to rebuild and get what we didn't achieve. We have a solid base to come back."

Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina has suggested he would like Mancini to remain in charge, and Bonucci echoed his sentiments as he praised his manager.

"What the coach has given us in these three years is something unique," he continued. "There is an empathy that is rare to see at Coverciano [Italy's headquarters], continuing with Mancini is the only logical decision.

"His ideas and values are not under question. Anything can happen in a game and opinions can change, but we have been with him every day and want to continue it."

Leonardo Bonucci has no doubt Italy will recover from their World Cup qualifying humiliation to be a major power once again, pointing out they produced a similar response not so long ago.

Italy were incredibly defeated 1-0 by North Macedonia in Thursday's Qatar 2022 qualifying play-off semi-final, with Aleksandar Trajkovski's stoppage-time winner stunning world football.

Roberto Mancini's men had dominated the match, but Trajkovski's speculative long-range effort left Azzurri players and coaching staff looking dismayed.

It marked a monumental change in fortunes from last year when a largely unfancied Italy side won Euro 2020, which was seen a huge achievement given their absence from Russia 2018.

As such, this will be the first time in World Cup history Italy have missed consecutive tournaments, with their failure to reach the 2018 edition instigating something of rebuild of the senior set-up.

Mancini has seemingly escaped much of the criticism, with many fans of the opinion he overachieved significantly when guiding them to European Championship success last year, and Bonucci appears to be confident Italy will respond swiftly and efficiently.

Bonucci, who missed Thursday's defeat due to injury, wrote on Instagram: "The two emotions are at opposite ends. The great euphoria and joy of the summer [at Euro 2020] are clearly contrasted with the disappointment and bitterness of this exclusion, exacerbated even more by not being able to help my team-mates for those 90 minutes.

"Now is the time to look ahead. Last summer we took the credit and praise for having done something unique; today we must take responsibility for not having earned the passage for our own demerits, more than for the merits of others.

"It is time for concrete and in-depth analysis to start over, to give Italy and the Italians what they deserve.

"We have done this before. And the climb has already begun, for me, for us.

"It will be hard to get back to the top, but we have already shown that we know how to get there. The future is now!"

 

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has left out Mario Balotelli from his squad for the upcoming World Cup playoffs, while handing maiden call-ups to Joao Pedro and Luiz Felipe.

The Azzurri failed to top their World Cup qualifying group, which leaves them having to beat North Macedonia in the playoff semi-finals on Thursday to set up a meeting against Turkey or Portugal five days later.

The draw means one of the two previous European Championship winners, Portugal and Italy, will not feature at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Mancini has named a 33-man squad for the upcoming clash against North Macedonia in Palermo, with Balotelli snubbed for the introduction of Cagliari forward Joao Pedro, who was born in Brazil but has an Italian passport.

Lazio defender Luiz Felipe also qualifies under the same criteria and he features in the Italy squad for the first time, while Federico Chiesa and Leonardo Spinazzola miss out through injury.

Moise Kean, Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria were also notable omissions, with Cristiano Biraghi expected to take Spinazzola's full-back spot and Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo filling in for Chiesa.

Matteo Politano, Stefano Sensi and Pierluigi Gollini - who replaces the injured Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret - all return, with Manuel Locatelli called up despite testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Locatelli's Juventus colleague Leonardo Bonucci has made the squad even though he suffered a reoccurring problem with his calf in Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League aggregate loss to Villarreal.

Italy squad:

Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Pierluigi Gollini (Tottenham), Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa); Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Lyon), Alessandro Florenzi (Milan), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma); Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Sampdoria), Sandro Tonali (Milan), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain); Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Joao Pedro (Cagliari), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo) Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).

Page 1 of 4
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.