Italy struggling for goals: five alternatives to Immobile

by | Sep 6, 2021 19:44

After some underwhelming performances with Italy, Ciro Immobile is in the spotlight, so Football Italia looks at five possible alternatives for Roberto Mancini.

Immobile has had a brilliant start to the season, with Lazio scoring four goals in the opening two Serie A games of the season. However, similarly to what has happened during entire his career, he failed to replicate the same performances at an international level.

Immobile didn’t score in Italy’s back to back draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland and although Roberto Mancini seems to trust his striker, there are some alternatives he will consider for the next few games, perhaps starting from Wednesday when the Azzurri host Lithuania at Reggio Emilia’s Mapei Stadium.

Andrea Belotti was the backup striker at the Euros, but Il Gallo sustained an injury at the beginning of the international break, so he is currently out of action. However, despite having been Torino‘s best player for the last few years, he scored more than 20 goals in a single Serie A campaign only once in his career, in 2016-17, when Torino renewed his contract with a €100m release clause.

The likes of Moise Kean, Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori are the other centre forwards included in the Azzurri squad by Mancini for the games against Bulgaria, Switzerland and Lithuania and quite frankly, they seem the be the most credible options for the future as well, with Qatar 2022 just around the corner.

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Only Raspadori collected a few minutes in the first two games against Bulgaria and Switzerland, but even if the Sassuolo starlet is one of the most exciting prospects of Italian football, he has little experience, especially at an international level.

The 21-year-old made his senior Azzurri debut during the Euros, so it’s hard to believe he can be the candidate to replace Immobile permanently in the near future. Kean has more international experience, but he is not a classic centre forward and Mancini left him out of the Azzurri squad at Euro 2020, bringing Raspadori instead.

Scamacca can be an interesting option but, yet again, we are talking about an interesting prospect who has yet to make his senior debut with the Azzurri. Scorer of nine goals in 15 appearances with the U21 squad, the Sassuolo starlet, could make his debut against Lithuania on Wednesday.

The Rome-born hitman is a classic centre forward, capable of scoring goals and keep the ball up front to ease the opponents’ pressure and create space for his teammates. It will be interesting to see how he can adapt to Mancini’s football after scoring 12 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions on loan at Genoa last term.

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Mancini would make a completely different pick by playing either Lorenzo Insigne or Nicolò Zaniolo as a false 9 against Lithuania.

Il Mancio has already used a forward who moves towards the ball in a deeper position, even during the Euros. In the second half of the Final against England, he used Insigne as a centre forward and Zaniolo could do exactly the same, making the most of his physical and technical skills. The versatile Roma starlet can play in many different roles in the final third and Mancini already tried him up front for the last 30 minutes against Switzerland on Sunday.

Based on his performance at Lazio, Immobile seems to be the most reliable option for Mancini, but with just 15 goals in 54 games with the Azzurri, his lack of form with the national team is a matter of concern and Mancini must deal with it. Perhaps, Immobile is no more untouchable for the Italian CT. Surely, Il the coach has a few alternatives in mind for the next few games.




  1. who me

    if azzurri dont get 3 points v Lithuania, its very likely we’ll be heading for playoff scenario.
    shame to throw it all away now after what Mancini has built.


    Immobile has been given more than enough chances at International level. The pressure/formations/etc are no excuse. I can understand Mancini is giving him a chance because he was once a striker and knows he needs belief and a run of goals to keep going… but it’s not happening. Belotti also has had his chances. Insigne has messed up a few in the last couple of games but at least he has been more consistent and reliable. Personally, I feel if Immobile wasn’t rested against Wales in the Euros, he would have scored against them and carried on throughout the tournament. However, that seems to have stopped his form and it’s back to ‘how he was before’. The other thing I personally believe is that if Mancini had played Raspadori from the start as a false nine in the last few games of the tournament… Italy would have won their games more comfortably. Again though, this is only my opinion and no longer matters… Italy still deservedly won the tournament by winning every game. Since the tournament, they’ve continued to dominate possession/chance wise but without the end product and it’s time for Immobile and Belotti to be dropped, at least to the bench.

    This is a list of centre forwards who could be tried out:
    Fabio Quagliarella (Samp)
    Francesco Caputo (Samp)
    Manolo Gabbiadini (Samp)
    Moise Kean (Juve)
    Andrea Petagna (Napoli)
    Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo)
    Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo)
    Leonardo Pavoletti (Cagliari)
    Kevin Lasagna (Verona)
    Gianluca Caprari (Verona)

    This is a list of those that could be played as a false 9 (or on the wings):
    Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
    Matteo Politano (Napoli)
    Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)
    Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma)
    Federico Chiesa (Juve)
    Federico Bernardeschi (Juve)
    Riccardo Sottil (Fior)
    Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo)
    Riccardo Orsolini (Bologna)
    Nicola Sansone (Bologna)

    Heres a list of youngsters who would put more effort in given a full International chance:
    Sebastiano Esposito (Basel)
    Eddie Salcedo (Spezia)
    Samuele Mulattieri (Crotone)
    Roberto Piccoli (Atalanta)
    Emanuel Vignato (Bologna)
    Lorenzo Lucca (Pisa)
    Kelvin Yeboah (Sturm Graz)
    Pietro Pellegri (Milan)
    Lorenzo Colombo (Spal)
    Daniel Maldini (Milan)
    Andrea Pinamonti (Empoli)
    Patrick Cutrone (Empoli)
    Federico Bonazzoli (Salernitana)
    Edoardo Vergani (Salernitana)

    And a couple that are an Outside Bet (Dual Nationality Who Haven’t Played For ‘Main’ National Team)
    Martin Satriano (Inter)
    Facundo Colidio (Inter)

    These days players no longer have to work their way up through the ranks, they can skip all that and move into the main team. I don’t really agree with this, however, the way of the World and the dire performances from our current main National strikers…. I believe the above players deserve more of a chance than Immobile/Belotti.


  3. Zee

    No one who came in to replace Immobile did better, maybe he’s not the issue and you should stop focusing on criticizing him and focus on make him feel appreciated and supported! Maybe that’s why he does better with Lazio and he’s a person who thrives under that and not under pressure and continuous criticism!



    Are you joking with that list for who could be tried out at centre-forward?! lol
    There’s some rubbish in that list. Gabbiadini, Lasanga, Caprari, Pavoletti, Petegna over Immobile?
    Not going to happen. If Mancini picked those guys on a regular basis, he’d be fired.
    Kean is probably the best hope, though doubts remain over his attitude. If he’s another Cassano/Balotelli, then it’ll be another wasted career.
    As for the list of youngsters, they’ve done little or nothing yet, and most will vanish from sight just like the majority of youngsters do.
    Italy’s main problem is that number 9 spot, but there doesn’t seem to be a solution before the WC. Best option, for now, may be the false 9.

  5. Bob

    Yup, False 9 all the way for now… little Lorenzo and Z man can rotate, although you’d think Z has the skill set and physical attributes to win over the CT.

    An outsider I like it P. Cutrone.

  6. lev

    kean is th best hope ,he is aggressive and he is physically fit, young and the most experienced in the above names, runs 90 minutes and puts pressure on the opponent defense..we will qualify cus Switzerland will tie at least one game and will lose in Italy ..

  7. Jarod KNowles

    Someone made a comment about Immobile consult with a hypnotist. This is not such an outlandish idea. While Mancini uses a False 9 (which actually works where the opponent defense has no reference point-remember Spain did that to us in the Euros more than in competition I might add), Immobile should see an Exorcist as there is definitely something wrong and it’s not tactics, it’s just plain luck. That lassie is jinxed and he has to correct this. Mancini is superstitious and he would know about this actually.



    The point I was making is that Mancini needs to show that others will be given the chance if he doesn’t perform.
    In the end, if he knows he’s guaranteed a spot in the team even when he doesn’t do much, then what does it matter of his form.
    He loses the ball, doesn’t compete and makes bad choices on a consistent basis.

    If he’s not doing anything, we might as well have Pavoletti, Petegna, Lasagna as a target man or the others who will run around.
    Not claiming they’ve done better in Serie A. Given a chance, someone will take it and if they did take it and scored, then scored again and had a run of form – would you or Mancini or anyone supporting Italy be complaining?

    I agree the false 9 with the ‘better’ players is best, just like I said before. Was just giving alternatives and making a point.


    I always have supported Immobile, especially when playing for Italy, like I always support the team.
    However, there is a limit. I keep willing him to score but it’s not happening and as i’ve just said above, he needs to know there is competition and others will be tried out if he doesn’t wake up. I’d be happier if he was doing something even when not scoring but most of the time he’s been more a liability than anything. I hope it does change

  9. jez

    Immobile is just terrible. He should be no where near this team. I would literally go with Fabio Quagliarella and Kean at this stage! immobile is just not good enough, Belotti isn’t much better (but at least he runs).
    I have drummed on about this for years now and the reality has now hit; WE HAVE NO STRIKERS for the simple fact that there are to many foreign players in Serie A taking away the opportunities from the italian kids. Serie A no longer attracts top players- there for this is the best time for teams to use homegrown talent instead of buying average (at best) players from all corners of the world. This is the beginning and the signs have been there for years, I mean the fact we pinned such hope of Balotelli should have been a clear enough warning! Next to break will certainly be our Defence, I mean Chiellini can’t play into his 50’s and at this rate we will be calling Baresi and Maldini up again (which actually wouldn’t be a bad thing to be fair!!!).
    The only hope now is cap the numbers per team in SERIE A that ARE not Italian or of Italian heritage.

  10. Bruno

    @Zee, you omit the fact that Zaniolo had, what, 30 mins in an unfamiliar role. That’s a third of a game vs Immobile’s 54 caps. These things don’t work to perfection over night, Zaniolo will have to have several matches and numerous training sessions to adjust to the role. Also, I would argue that Italy’s foward line looked more convincing after Immobile was subbed in the Euro final, when Insigne played through the middle instead.

    Meanwhile Immobile has been terrible not just under Mancini, but also Di Biagio, in that terrible performance in a friendly away to England in which Immobile missed several clear cut chances in the opening 15 minutes, Ventura, Conte and Prandelli. Immobile has been useless under 5 NT coaches and the various systems that they’ve employed.

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