Ever since Roberto Mancini took control over the Italian national team, the goal has been to bring along the new wave of talent and get the squad to be competitive again by the time that qualification for the 2020 European Championships rolled around.
Well, as of tonight, qualifying has begun for the Azzurri.
And based on the starting lineup, the youngsters will be the ones who set the tone in tonight’s game against Finland at the Stadio Friuli in Udine.
The biggest highlight? Well, at least for the folks who care about Italy around here? That’s 19-year-old starlet Moise Kean, who is officially making his first-ever senior squad start tonight after he got his full international debut back in November against the United States.
This is a big night for Moise.
This is a big night for Italy as a whole.
So much of the Mancini doctrine since he took over was to bring in the young talent, give them a chance to show what they can do and give Italy a new identity after failing to qualify for last summer’s World Cup.
Tonight is a chance to show that the progress that Mancini has been talking about is a real thing. And, you know, it would be nice for Italy to score more than one goal in a competitive international fixture for the first time since 2017. Just throwing that out there.
When: Saturday, March 23, 2019
Where: Dacia Arena, Udine, Italy
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 12:45 p.m. Pacific Time
Italy starting XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Piccini, Bonucci, Chiellini, Biraghi; Verratti, Jorginho, Barella; Bernardeschi, Immobile, Kean
Italy bench: Sirigu, Cragno, Mancini, Spinazzola, Pavoletti, Grifo, Romagnoli, Sensi, Politano, Quagliarella, El Shaarawy, Zaniolo
Finland starting XI: Hradecky; Granlund, Toivio, S. Vaisanen, Arajuuri, Pirinen; Lod, Sparv, Kamara; Hamalainen; Pukki
Finland bench: Joronen, Jaakkola, Taylor, Jensen, Schuller, Soiri, Kauko, L. Vaisanen, Sumusalo, Lam, Karjalainen, Lappalainen
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League (United Kingdom); RAI Uno (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+, Univision Deportes En Vivo (United States); Sky GO Extra (United Kingdom); RAI Play (Italy)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.