Media watch: disappointing Italy trio, in-form Chiesa steals the headlines

by | Sep 3, 2021 10:32

Federico Chiesa was named MVP in Italy v Bulgaria by every sports paper in Italy, but three Azzurri failed to live up to expectations.

Italy returned to action after their European triumph but were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Bulgaria in a World Cup Qualifying match at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.

Federico Chiesa broke the deadlock after just 20 minutes, but Ascoli striker Petrov Iliev levelled the scores just before halftime.

World Cup Qualifiers: Italy held by Bulgaria, but Azzurri equal Spain and Brazil record

Chiesa was named MVP by La Gazzetta dello Sport, Tuttosport and Il Corriere dello Sport. “It feels like he played the Wembley Final just yesterday,” wrote the pink paper.

“He opened the score and almost got a second one. Sometimes he’d need more creativity, but he is absolutely vital for Italy.”

Milan defender Alessandro Florenzi was not as convincing as he is considered one of the responsible players for Bulgaria’s goal.

The 30-year-old slipped as Kiril Despodov skipped past him down the left flank, delivering the assist for Iliev, who surprised Francesco Acerbi by cutting in front of him.

Marco Verratti also failed to live up to expectations and was rated 5.5 by Tuttosport and La Gazzetta dello Sport and 5 by Il Corriere dello Sport.

Italy player ratings v Bulgaria

Gazzetta dello Sport: Donnarumma 6; Florenzi 5 (64′ Toloi 6), Bonucci 6, Acerbi 5, Emerson Palmieri 6 (91′ Pellegrini N/A); Barella 6 (64′ Cristante 6), Jorginho 6.5, Verratti 5.5; Chiesa 7, Immobile 5.5 (74′ Raspadori N/A), Insigne 5 (74′ Berardi N/A). Coach: Mancini 5.5

Corriere dello Sport: Donnarumma 6; Florenzi 5.5 (64′ Toloi 6), Bonucci 6.5, Acerbi 5.5, Emerson Palmieri 6 (91′ Pellegrini N/A); Barella 5.5 (64′ Cristante 6), Jorginho 6, Verratti 5; Chiesa 7, Immobile 5.5 (74′ Raspadori N/A), Insigne 5.5 (74′ Berardi N/A). Coach: Mancini 6

Tuttosport: Donnarumma 6; Florenzi 5 (64′ Toloi 5.5), Bonucci 6, Acerbi 5, Emerson Palmieri 6 (91′ Pellegrini N/A); Barella 6.5 (64′ Cristante 6), Jorginho 6, Verratti 5.5; Chiesa 7, Immobile 5.5 (74′ Raspadori N/A), Insigne 5.5 (74′ Berardi N/A). Coach: Mancini 6

epa09443902 Italy's forward Federico Chiesa celebrates after scoring during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying soccer match between Italy and Bulgaria at the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy, 02 September 2021. EPA-EFE/CLAUDIO GIOVANNINI


  1. MC Miker G

    A disappointing performance, undoubtedly. Italy should still be OK to qualify, but they BADLY need a more prolific CF. Immobile is slow and ponderous; so was Filippo Inzaghi, but at least he knew where the goal was. Belotti’s not much better, but I’d still play him in preference to Immobile – he’s much better at holding the ball up, as well as being faster and stronger.

  2. Sardo

    Mike, Immobile has never been slow, he’s fast and strong, just not good for Italy, you seen the Lazio goals at the weekend, fantastic. Inzaghi was also never a slow player, his movement was fantastic. Please have a think about what you’re saying my friend.

  3. Sardo

    Disagree with that Miker,

    come on now, check Immobile form for Lazio at the weekend, fantastic, he’s never been slow either, he’s just not good for Italy at times.

    Inzaghi also was never slow, great movement.

  4. joe del monte

    AHH September tradition

  5. Token Bubble

    The squad picked was more than capable of winning this tie and the stats suggested this also. What disappointed me was Pellegrini not being introduced earlier and not having Zaniolo, Locatelli and Kean on the bench who most probably would have swung the tie our way. In a way, this result should oust any complacency going into the Switzerland game on Sunday and reset the focus.

  6. rosario

    3 issues remain as pointed out during the Euro.

    1. Italy looked and played better when Locatelli was alongside Jorginho and Barella. With both Jorginho and Verratti, you have two very similar players, and the onus only on Barella to effectively be a halfway line to penalty box midfielder. Verratti constantly slows the game down.

    2. How Mancini picks Florenzi ahead of Calabria is arguably the most demented decision in international football today. To blame for the equaliser and at one stage when losing the ball in the opposition’s half, he didn’t even have the legs to chase back. Playing the likes of Di Lorenzo and Florenzi gives Italy ZERO threat from full back.

    3. Lack of a genuine centre forward. The Immobile ‘experiment’ / trial has run its course. It ran its course a long long long time ago. Immobile is and will never be comfortable in an Italy shirt. We are literally coming up to nearly 2 decades of not being able to produce anything that remotely looks like replacing Vieri. Lacking a centre forward means you end up playing wonderful football, but then relying on penalties and or extra time to win games, you should be winning in normal time.


    Immobile will improve under sarri. Inzaghi made him play the way he did and that is recipe for disaster. In mean time they need a more hold up ball player like scammacca or belotti, caputo would be a good try. Petagna is another big man up front for post and pass play. ITs first game back this one can slide but the ball passing in tight quarters was not to shabby.

  8. EDUARDO p

    Looking back at the past successful Azzurri squadra which lifted the trophy (WC 2006 & Euro 2020), with the exception of formation and playing style, they were not too different in terms of where the goals came from. What was similar from Lippi’s and Mancini’s current team is that they play for each other and as a result the goals came from everywhere.
    WC 2006: Materazzi & Toni (2 goals), Del Piero, Totti, Grosso, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Iaquinta, Pirlo, Zambrotta (1 goal each) and Zaccardo (og, kidding with the last one).
    Euro 2020: Chiesa, Insigne, Immobile, Pessina, Locatelli (2 goals). Barella, Bonucci, (1 goal).

    So for both these champion sides we didn’t have a prolific goal scorer, so I wouldn’t necessarily be worried about that. Although we would people to score goals to qualify and progress far at the World Cup.

    I would like to see Chiesa tried out as a CF or even false 9 with Berradi on the right. Chiesa has the pace, strength and determination to get goals I feel.

    I’d also like to see how Kean does at Juventus, with his impressive season last season at PSG as essentially their second choice CF.

    There are also others to try; Scamacca & Raspadori. I think though at a international level; Immobile will show some brilliance, when he scores goals, he scores really well. Belotti’s work rate and hold up play is excellent.

    It’s the midfield which may be a headache? by the sheer number of talent, which Mancini managed well anyway. Who to play? Verratti/Locatelli? Pessina/Barella?. We also welcome back Sensi, Zaniolo, Pellegrini.

  9. MaldIni’s heIr

    Football rarely makes any sense. There’s no logical reason why Immobile should perform for Lazio and not for Italy. Bulgaria are not a stronger opposition than the teams he plays against in Serie A. It seems to be a mental issue, He feels confident for Lazio and struggles mentally with Italy. It’s weird because Italy are playing with such confidence. It is a problem though. We won the Euros despite him. We need a striker m. Belotti also seems to struggle with the same affliction. It’s not the system because they’re getting lots of chances. Football is weird.

  10. joe del monte

    Immobile does not work and will never work for Italy, lets move on Mr. Mancini

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