It is no surprise that Group B at UEFA Euro 2024 is called the Group of Death, a term used to describe a tough group in a tournament due to the high quality of the teams involved. With three teams in the group in the FIFA rankings, it will be tough competition. To prepare appropriately, Luciano Spalletti’s Azzurri drew 0-0 on Tuesday against Vincenzo Montella’s Turkey. The Italian bosses proved to be man managers. Montella’s ‘Crescent Stars’ sit in Group F at Euro 2024.

However, Spalletti did confirm his whole gamut of 26 during Italy’s training camp. He notably eliminated Bologna’s Riccardo Orsolini and Torino’s Samuele Ricci. The latter expects to be integral to Italy’s future. Emulating the paragon of Andrea Pirlo, this right-footed halfback was also on the Italian U21.

training camp highlights

Early doors against Turkey, the Azzurri initiated a blitz with a formation of seven players, leaving three to defend. Their strategy was to gain possession in Turkey’s third of the field, but it was swiftly countered, catching Italy off-guard. This strategy led to a defensive scramble, with Alessandro Bastoni and Gianluca Mancini often seen in the back, shifting the formation into a 2-4-3-1 setup. However, Mancini’s defensive activity and ball touches showcased his accurate passing and hold-up skills.

Moreover, the friendly marked Riccardo Calafiori’s first international cap. The Bologna defender was nominated for ‘Defender of the Year’ in Serie A. Against Turkey, the 22-year-old showcased his skills and potential when substituting the phenomenal Federico Dimarco in the 85th minute. Nonetheless, Calafiori performed to the applause of the Bologna crowd every time he touched the ball at Renato Dall’Ara stadium.

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In contrast, Spalletti put Orsolini, who has scored ten goals in 24 appearances for Bologna and ranks in the top five in Serie A, to the tactical test. Against Turkey, the Bologna no. 7 was more involved in the offensive plays, consistently getting touches and drawing fouls. Orsolini created a set-piece opportunity for Lorenzo Pellegrini and Dimarco in the 18th minute. However, he also showed signs of being too eager to impress and received a yellow card for a reactionary foul. Andrea Cambiaso eventually substituted for him. Though Spalletti claims the Juventus defender is intelligent, Cambiaso made a significant mistake by trapping Bastoni’s cross with his chest instead of volleying it, displaying his tendency to falter when given opportunities in the final third.

U20 Scrimmage

In a surprising move, Luciano Spalletti gave Raoul Bellanova, a promising prospect from Torino, and his ‘Toro’ teammates Alessandro Buongiorno and Samuele Ricci got some playing time. The minutes came when Italy’s senior team defeated its U20 team in a scrimmage on Wednesday. However, Ricci played on the U20 side during the match. Nevertheless, Bellanova’s egregious error in the second half capitalized into a goal by Juventus’ Nikola Sekulov. Ultimately, Roma’s Stephan El Shaarawy closed the match, scoring to make it 3-1.

rising stars: bellanova & Buongiorno

Raoul Bellanova worked his way up through Italy’s youth system and even made his international debut in a friendly against Ecuador last March. During training at Coverciano Center in Florence, Spalletti experimented with Torino’s Raoul Bellanova as a right-wing back in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Moreover, Bellanova’s cross from the flank recently led to a brilliant header by Ivan Illic for Torino. The goal served as the game-winner against AC Milan. Not surprisingly, Aston Villa is closely watching this dynamic player as they search for new talent. Nevertheless, Torino has set the price for the 24-year-old Raoul Bellanova at €25m. Meanwhile, Manchester United has also noticed Bellanova’s abilities on defense, particularly his prowess in attacking plays.

Meanwhile, Torino boasts center-back Alessandro Buongiorno, who was born and raised in Turin. The 24-year-old has climbed up the ranks of the Italian youth system and has a contract extension until 2024. Despite only three appearances for the Nazionale, Buongiorno’s skills are evident on the field. The Torino captain ranks third in Serie A for aerial duels won, a testament to his defensive prowess, second for fouls committed, showing his commitment to the game, and first for interceptions, highlighting his ability to read the field.

Furthermore, Torino is ranked #9 in the league with only 36 goals allowed, putting them in the top four defensively. Buongiorno and Bellanova’s contribution to this defensive record is undeniable. Further, their demeanor is a testament to their different playing styles.

spalletti substitutes frattesi

Spalletti swapped out Davide Frattesi for Ricci in the 4-2-3-1 ‘attacking-midfield’ role at the Coverciano training facility in Florence. Furthermore, in the Turkey match, Frattesi took over for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who had sustained a minor strain. Despite Frattesi’s recent Scudetto with Inter Milan, Spalletti is hesitant to give him a starting position at Euro 2024.

“Frattesi is a strong player, but he needs to work on his technical skills and improve the cleanliness of his play.” Spalletti stated during the press conference.

In many ways, Frattesi is the modern version of Claudio Marchisio. The Turin-born midfielder played a box-to-box role at Juventus, both offensive and defensive.

Ultimately, Buongiorno and Bellanova are not starting players but are important to Spalleti’s strategy, especially against Albania, a formidable opponent on matchday one at Euro 2024. Securing a victory over Albania will be essential. However, the challenge posed by minnows Albania will test the mettle of the Italians.

Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer

Photo: IMAGO / Marco Canoniero