On Sunday the 29th in Malta, Italy out-played Scotland winning 1-0 thanks to a goal by Sunderland striker Graziano Pelle. Unfortunately, Italy’s potentially high goal tally was not realized.
In the first half, Italy demonstrated the chemistry fans have doubted the squad possessed. The Azzurri ran Conte’s typical 3-5-2 formation where the majority of play began from their experienced back line, Barzagli, Bonucci, and Chiellini. Otherwise, De Rossi acted as a playmaker in the middle, often distributing long passes to the Darmian and Giaccherini on the left flank or Candreva on the right.
Italy’s first opportunity at goal came in the sixth minute off of a Candreva free kick. His powerful shot bounced in front of Scotland keeper Marshall who made a double save, pushing the initial strike out, which was then followed-up by Giaccherini. The inability to finish was the theme of the first half as Giaccherini failed to capitalize on multiple opportunities while the remainder of Italy’s opportunities were slightly off target.
On the other hand, Scotland registered their one and only shot on goal around the 78th minute mark. For a majority of the first half, Scotland absorbed the pressure from the Azzurri by sitting back and attacking on the counter when the opportunity arose. Though, the less-than-impressive scoreline is attributed to Italy’s wastefulness, not to a successfully parked Scottish bus.
Early in the second half, Giaccherini was wrongly called offsides on what could’ve been a goalscoring play. Luckily, karma evenly balanced the scale and Graziano Pelle curled a powerful shot passed Marshall’s upper left side.
Following Italy’s breakthrough, they seemed to loosen up as Scotland finally exhibited some attacking play. Also, Conte’s three substitutions changed the dynamic of Italy’s performance for the worst. Though, Scotland couldn’t create opportunities to break through the Azzurri’s defense.
Though they surely weren’t happy with their inability to capitalize in front of goal, Conte’s squad should be content they came out victorious after a declining performance in the second half.
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