Friendly match, Italy beat Albania

There are joyless victories, even if they are large and convincing. This was the case with Italy’s 3-1 away to Albania, and to explain why it is enough to measure the distance between Tirana and Doha, where a World Cup is opening in days, the second in a row without the Azzurri. In fact, to get through the darkest hour, as admitted by the coach himself, Roberto Mancini can at least smile at the evening marked by Grifo’s brace, the new strength of the blue to come, and by Simone Pafundi’s entry into the field , 16 years and six months: the Udinese striker is the youngest debutant for 100 years, third overall. Mancini also notes the growth of Dimarco, the confirmed maturity of Raspadori and the peace with Zaniolo.

In the futuristic stadium in Tirana, the blue 3-4-3 allows the coach to experiment for a future that erases the melancholic present. Meret takes Donnarumma’s place in goal, Scalvini finds a place in defence, while Grifo completes the attacking trident in which Raspadori is the offensive playmaker, more than the Verratti-Tonali duo are not game creators. Reja deploys Albania in the mirror, and full of A players, from Berisha to Bajrami.

Italy starts quickly, and Zaniolo is released twice in the area on the right, with as many assists busted. Grifo has a charmed foot, he tries from outside (8′), wide, and then in the 11th minute enters the area and serves in the middle, with Zaniolo who does not repeat the happy experience of the Conference final on the rebuttal and shoots high with the door open . So in the 15th minute Albania surprises the blue defence: free-kick from Bajrami’s trocar, header from Ismajli and Meret stopped. The 1-0 is practically branded Empoli. But Italy reacts immediately, and the equalizer arrives after 5′: Grifo again, who draws Di Lorenzo into the area from the left, the Neapolitan is good at anticipating the scorer and goalkeeper. While Zaniolo continues the personal duel with the missed goal (in the 23rd minute Dimarco catches him well in the area, he lifts the lob too much), the Raspadori-Grifo pairing takes care of it: the former wins a rebound on Kumbulla, runs away into the area and serves behind , the second in tow beats Berisha with his right foot, for the right 2-1 in the 25th minute. At the end of time Tonali was forced out due to a fall with a blow to the head. EbììIn full recovery Zaniolo slams on the post and bad luck in the left foot to Berisha beaten.

Back on the pitch, Albania set off in search of an equalizer and after three minutes Meret had to make his first save from Kumbulla’s header. Between 51′ and 53′ the crossbars trembled: the Albanian one on Grifo’s right, Meret’s on the newcomer Roshi, with Meret’s subsequent save on Uzuni’s right in the box. Italy is long, Mancini scolds it, Albania tries to take advantage of it. Bajrami nearly equalized in the 15th minute and printed his right foot again on the crossbar, Lenjani on the rebound instead saw him denied on the line by Bonucci’s save. But in the most difficult moment, Grifo’s brace arrives: this time it is Zaniolo who invents it, a through ball for Verratti who unloads from the right, Grifo adjusts it from the edge and makes it 3-1. It’s 19′, the psychological blow slows down the Albanian competitive ardor. Dimarco volleys in the half hour, from inside the area, and deserves the goal but Berisha rejects, and immediately after Meret imitates him on the overturn, opposing Roshi. The Napoli goalkeeper had to repeat himself in the final, on Skuka’s overhead kick, and the reflex was effective. It ends with the blue return of Chiesa, on the field in the 44th minute with the rookies Pinamonti and Pafundi, after Ricci and Fagioli. As if to say, the present is what it is, the future will be seen.

Friendly match, Italy beat Albania-Italy 3 to 1 – Football