Retegui a bright note as Azzurri again fail to shine

Retegui a bright note as Azzurri again fail to shine

MILAN (AP) — Mateo Retegui’s impressive debut for Italy added some gloss to what was essentially a mediocre performance from the defending champion at the start of European Championship qualifying.

Less than two years after beating England on penalties to win Euro 2020, Italy kicked off its campaign to reach Euro 2024 with a 2-1 loss at home to the same opponent on Thursday.

The Azzurri followed that up with a 2-0 win over Malta on Sunday but there is much to improve.

“We could have and should have done better. In what? Almost everything,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. “We did some things right, and other things less so. It was important to win, but we should have scored more goals.”

The first qualifiers for Euro 2024 took place just over three months after the World Cup, which Italy again didn’t qualify for.

After Italy failed to reach the 2018 World Cup, the Azzurri stormed through qualification for Euro 2020. They won all 10 of their matches, scoring 37 goals and conceding just four.

Mancini’s team then went on to win the tournament and Italy’s revival appeared to be complete.

But the Azzurri’s recent performances have raised doubts about whether Italy’s triumph was indeed a return to the top or an anomaly driven by the passion and fervor of a country recovering from being one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Italians dominated the sporting successes that year.

Italy has won just eight of its 20 matches since lifting the European Championship trophy. Thursday’s loss to England was its first in European Championship qualifying since 2006 and the first time it had lost the opener in nearly 50 years.

The one bright note for Mancini and Italy against England was that Retegui scored on his international debut. The Argentina-born forward, who has Italian citizenship through his maternal grandmother, followed that up by netting Italy’s opener at Malta.

“He broke the deadlock, which was crucial, but he still needs time and to get to know European football,” Mancini said.

The 23-year-old Retegui has spent his entire career so far in Argentina, where he plays for Tigre on loan from Boca Juniors. He was the top scorer in the domestic league last season with 19 goals and also tops the current standings, having netted six times in eight matches.

“He’s a goalscorer, we saw that during the period we were following him,” Mancini said. “Of course he has to settle in, he has to fit into certain ways, but he scores goals and that’s an important characteristic for a center forward.

“He has the qualities but we have to give him time. He’s like a student in a new school.”

Retegui has already been courted by Italian clubs, with Inter Milan reportedly at the head of the queue.

The Nerazzurri have the added bonus that they have another Argentina-born player with an Italian passport on its books, Facundo Colidio. Moreover, he is on loan at Tigre.

“It would be a good thing if Retegui came to Serie A,” Mancini said. “I think it would give him more strength, he would manage to learn the language and consequently communicate better with his teammates.”


More AP soccer: and

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Kraken Onion Market