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Italy boss Mancini welcomes his ‘big problem’

Italy, Roberto Mancini
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Not even the many absentees could stop Italy over the international break, leaving their manager with a welcome issue to resolve.

Roberto Mancini admitted choosing a final 23-man squad for next summer’s European championship will be ‘a big problem’ considering the young talents that have stepped up during the international break.

Italy lost many senior players because of injuries and positive COVID-19 tests, including Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, and Marco Verratti.

Even Mancini had to miss all three of the Azzurri’s games against Finland, Poland, and Bosnia-Herzegovina after testing positive for COVID-19. His assistant Alberigo Evani took over in his absence.

But even with many missing players, and being a manager down, Italy still won all three games without conceding a single goal.

Wednesday’s 2-0 success in Bosnia confirmed the team as Group A1 winners and a spot in the Nations League finals next October – just four months after the European championship next June.

“Choosing 23 players for the European Championship is going to be a big problem,” Mancini admitted to Rai Sport via a webcam in his home.

“It was already going to be difficult before but in the last four months players are coming through and are proving to be excellent. It is always better to have these problems.”

The former Inter Milan and Manchester City manager has been in charge of Italy since May 2018.

September 2018, to be exact, was the last time he experienced defeat in a 1-0 loss to Portugal. Italy have since gone 22 games unbeaten, winning on 17 occasions and drawing the other five.

“We were in 20th place before and now we are up to sixth in the rankings,” Mancini said on the progress made.

“The players have done a great job because it has not always been easy.

“We have tried to become more offensive with our play. You have to have the right mentality to do so and have a style of play that all the great teams have.”