‘This is what we are’: Italian media gives a glum assessment of the national team’s uneven defeat against England in their opening Euro 2024 qualifying match… but head coach Roberto Mancini ESCAPES criticism ahead of must-win tie against Malta
- Debutant Mateo Retegui’s goal is roundly praised, as is the second-half showing
- Corriere dello Sport’s headline speaks to the ‘Two Italys’ on display in Naples
- Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini is still well-supported by the Italian press
Italian news outlets have given a glum assessment of Italy’s performance against England in their 2-1 defeat at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Thursday evening.
The 2-1 victory to the visitors marked the first time England have won on Italian soil for 62 years.
But despite a lacklustre showing, a number of Italian outlets minimised the extent of the damage caused by the Three Lions, dwelling more closely on a good recovery after a sloppy first half than the team’s inability to fightback against 10 ten men after Luke Shaw’s sending-off in the second-half.
The feeling in Italy is that the weakness of Mancini’s team has magnified the merits of England, despite the travelling side’s superior organisation even when playing a man down.
The Italian manager is well-supported by the Italian press, and on Thursday night, Sky Sport Italia were the only outlet to discuss some of the errors in the former Manchester City coach’s decision-making.
‘POCA ITALY’: La Gazetta dello Sport offered one of the harshest criticisms of ‘Little Italy’
‘QUESTI SIAMO’: Tutto Sport stressed that ‘this is what we are’ and that the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign has begun ‘uphill’
In Friday’s newspapers, headlines were even-handed, if a little downcast, about the team’s defeat.
La Gazetto dello Sport derided their national team as ‘Little Italy’ on the front page on Friday morning, but also noted that after being ‘dominated in the first half’, Mateo Retegui’s goal was a superb ‘reaction’.
So too was Italy’s ‘assault’ after Shaw’s sending off, but the strong second-half showing was ‘not enough’ to overturn the deficit.
Tutto Sport’s headline was more world-wearied, the headline reading ‘This is what we are’.
‘Retegui debuts with a goal, but the Azzurri fail to comeback after a bad first-half. The race for Germany 2024 begins uphill. Sunday in Malta for the ransom,’ the sub-header added, teeing up Italy’s next qualifying match in Attard over the weekend.
Another publication to highlight the impact of goalscoring Retegui was Quotidiano Sportivo, whose headline read: ‘Retegui for Italy but not much more’.
RETEGUI ITALIA MA NON BASTA: Quotidiano Sportivo plays on the descriptive last name of goalscoring Argentine-Italian forward Mateo Retegui
DUE ITALIA: Corriere dello Sport told the story of the ‘two Italys’
‘Rete’, the Italian word highlighted at the start of the Tigre forward’s name, is a lesser-used term for goal, due to its literal meaning of trap, or net.
The Argentina-born striker marked a bright spot in a disappointing showing for Italy, but Corriere Dello Sport was quick to emphasise the ‘Two Italys’ present on the pitch.
The sub-header also read: ‘A disappointing start and brilliant recovery: Retegui passes [the test]’, and noted that Mancini had claimed that ‘in the second half, I saw a beautiful national team’.
Retegui made his debut in emphatic style with a second-half goal that re-energised Italy
But in the end, Italy could not overturn arrears and England walked away with the spoils
Led by captain Harry Kane who became England’s leading goalscorer of all time on the night, England’s steady performance went a small way to avenging the result of the Euro 2020 final last year.
Declan Rice opening the scoring after catching a ricocheting ball on the outside of the six-yard box that had fallen for him after Kane’s first close-range attempt.
Later in the first-half, the captain’s historic penalty silenced the storied Naples stadium.
A shakier second-half followed, but England held on to their lead and shot to the top of qualifying Group C.
England will continue their campaign against Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.