Italy maintained its fight for top spot in Group G by defeating Liechtenstein 5-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday evening at the Stadio Friuli in Udine and the Azzurri are only behind Spain on goal difference.
After a sluggish opening 30 minutes, the Italians were more fluid in possession and created numerous chances against the Liechtensteiners. Although Giampiero Ventura’s side faced one of Europe’s minnows, it was great to see his players take control of a game.
Even in a match like this, there were still a number of things to take from this encounter, particularly the individual performances of some players.
Insigne is Important for the Azzurri
A great creator and scorer for Napoli at club level, Lorenzo Insigne showed that he can be an important contributor for the Italian national team.
The 26 year-old left-winger opened the scoring with a sensational side-volley, he assisted in the second goal which was finished-off by Andrea Belotti and he also played a part in the fifth goal scored by Manolo Gabbiadini.
Wearing the #10 jersey for Italy can either be a burden or an honour and Insigne demonstrated that he can provide the spark to unlock defences.
Spinazzola is a Future Left-Back for Italy
Giampiero Ventura can count on a number of options at left-back and Leonardo Spinazzola was outstanding in his third senior cap for the Azzurri, running tirelessly down the left flank.
Due to the lack of quality Liechtenstein possessed, the Atalanta full-back acted as an auxiliary left-winger for nearly the entire match, and he assisted in the goals scored by Insigne and Gabbiadini.
With Mattia De Sciglio lacking fitness and consistency and Matteo Darmian struggling for regular playing time at Manchester United, Spinazzola has the opportunity to cement his spot in the Italian team on a regular basis.
Emerson is not Required
Italy has historically had an unhealthy obsession with selecting oriundi for the national team, especially from South America. Emerson Palmieri, or Emerson for short, starred for Roma in the 2016/17 Serie A campaign and the Brazilian-born defender made himself available for the Azzurri.
Ventura has not granted the Giallorossi full-back his international debut because of an injury and it has proven to be a mixed blessing. Spinazzola was a threat with his marauding runs from defence and the likes Antonio Barreca and Nicola Murru are yet to make their senior debuts.
When Italian clubs are producing home-grown starlets, there is no need for players who will probably team the Azzurri as a consolation prize or last resort.
Candreva Could Eventually Lose His Spot
Although he had a goal incorrectly disallowed, there were not many things to be impressed with when assessing Antonio Candreva’s performance.
The 30-year-old has been a solid contributor for Italy in 47 internationals but his speed and energy were the only attributes to be impressed with against Liechtenstein. A majority of his passes and crosses were inaccurate and the Lichtensteiner defence dealt with them comfortably.
He was replaced by Federico Bernardeschi after 60 minutes and the Fiorentina forward was far more dangerous than Candreva, scoring the fourth goal of the match. Bernardeschi is a more modern winger who can cut-in and might turn out to be more productive than the Inter winger in the long-term.
Italy Can Put Teams to the Sword
Generally Italy is a team that does enough to win matches without exerting too much energy, even against the minnows of world football.
On May 31 an Azzurri squad with youngsters and debutants thrashed San Marino 8-0 and an almost full-strength Italian team netted five times on Sunday so it proves that they can score an abundance of goals when the desire is there.
With Spain leading Group G with a goal difference of 18, Italy needed to score with a florish and beating La Furia Roja in Madrid in September looks unlikely so winning convincingly against weak opponents is essential