By 90Min
September 11, 2018

Dictating the events in Lisbon, a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal side downed Italy 1-0 on Monday night.

The first real chance came around 25 minutes in, as a recycled cross was dropped by Gianluigi Donnarumma, with Bernardo Silva's snap-shot denied only by Alessio Romagnoli's goal-line clearance.  

Continuing to ride their luck, the Italians saw a Mario Rui cross deflect off the knee of Bryan Cristante and onto the crossbar. Moments later, Scottish referee Willie Collum decided that Domenico Criscito's blatant block on Pizzi didn't warrant a penalty, before William Carvalho fired a shot inches wide of Donnarumma's left post. 

Just after half time, Portugal's dominance told. Bruma wrestled the ball from Mattia Caldara, and raced up the left wing into acres of space before releasing a pass to Andre Silva - Sevilla's striker swivelling well and curling his shot past the despairing dive of Donnarumma.

Key Talking Point

Italy's lack of intensity.

Roberto Mancini made nine changes from the game against Poland on Friday, with zero Juventus players in the lineup for the first time since 1998. Even with all these fresh faces, Gli Azzurri looked lost and dropped back into their defensive third repeatedly. 

The absence of physicality was astounding, with Italy content to marshal Portugal until a passing mistake was made. Even without Cristiano Ronaldo, the home side seized the initiative after a while, and should have been ahead at half-time.

In the second 45, A Selecao das Quinas' control of possession was capitalised upon. Seemingly continuing with their tactics after the break, Gli Azzurri's failure to execute across the pitch was remarkably obvious. Granted, Roberto Mancini has been in the job under a year, but there is severe work needed if Italy want a return to their former glories. 


Player Ratings

Staring XI (4-3-3): Patricio (7): Cancelo (7), Pepe (6), Dias (6), Rui (7); Carvalho (8*), Neves (6), Pizzi (7); Bruma (7); A.Silva (7), B.Silva (7)

Substitutes: Sanches (6), Martins (6), Oliveira (N/A)

Star Man - William Carvalho

Dictating the tempo, Portugal's dynamo was very impressive. His physique clearly intimated Jorginho and Giacomo Bonaventura, as Italy's midfield failed to create any clear cut chances.

Signed by Real Betis this summer, Carvalho was a crucial figure in his club side winning this season's opening Andalusian derby.  His ability to help control possession by either spreading wide or beating a man was the key difference in this clash.

Worst Player - Pepe

Frankly, there wasn't really a bad player on the field for Portugal. However, the ever polarising Pepe did throw in some rather rash challenges. 

With Italy's only real opportunity to score coming from a set piece, the Besiktas player lost his man on more than one occasion. Booked late on after mistiming his lunge, it was an average performance from the centre back. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma (7*); Lazzari (4), Caldara (6), Romagnoli (6), Criscito (5); Cristante (6), Jorginho (6), Bonaventura (5); Zaza (6), Immobile (4), Chiesa (5)

Substitutes: Berardi (5), Emerson (6), Belotti (5)

Star Man - Gianluigi Donnarumma

Even though his side were defeated, Italy's goalkeeper can hold his head up high. Some fantastic saves from Bernardo Silva and Pizzi kept his nation in the game until the final whistle. Even though it was highly unlikely his teammates would find a breakthrough, Donnarumma's concentration and talent gave them a chance.

At only nineteen years old, the shot stopper has shown he is more than capable of taking over from legendary figure Gigi Buffon. Likely to hold down his position between the sticks for a long while, AC Milan's no.1 will win Gli Azzurri more games than he loses them.

Worst Player - Ciro Immobile

Substituted just before the hour mark, Serie A's current Capocannoniere was a complete non event. Barely touching the ball, Italy's forward failed to offer anything more than Mario Balotelli did against Poland. 

Scoring 29 goals for Lazio last season and starting this campaign brightly, it remains something of a mystery as to why Immobile can't produce for Gli Azzurri. It must surely be bothering Roberto Mancini that his goalscoring options are currently incapable of delivering. 

Looking Ahead

All in all, Portugal will be pleased with their performance. Dominating proceedings, a 1-0 win did not truly reflect how well they controlled the game. Travelling to Poland for their next UEFA Nations League match in October, A Selecao das Quinas can have confidence as they welcome back Cristiano Ronaldo. 


As for Italy, one point from a possible six leaves them in real danger of being relegated from their group.

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