The World Cup begins on Sunday, Nov. 20. Italy manager Roberto Mancini will be on the sideline of a game that day, screaming instructions to his players and watching them hopefully get a win. The thing is, though, that game between Italy and Austria won’t be happening at the World Cup in Qatar.
Instead, it will be a friendly taking place in Vienna.
The one positive of it even though it won’t actually be taking place at the World Cup? Two of Juventus’ best youngsters will be on the roster for said match and potentially in line to make their respective debuts on the international level.
That’s because 19-year-old Fabio Miretti and 21-year-old Nicolo Fagioli have both been included in Mancini’s 31-man squad for friendlies against Albania and then Austria next week. It is the first time both of the two young midfielders have been called into Italy’s senior squad, with Miretti having previously been called into Mancini’s short training camp last spring following the teenager’s breakthrough into the Juventus senior team.
Fagioli and Miretti join Juventus teammates Federico Chiesa, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Gatti in the Italy squad, with fellow midfielder Manuel Locatelli excluded due to personal reasons. The entire 31-man squad is listed in the tweet below:
Head Coach Roberto #Mancini has named a 31-player squad for the upcoming friendlies with #Albania and #Austria #Azzurri #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/NYPIqaUEEU— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) November 11, 2022
Obviously, as you can see with some of the names called into the squad by Mancini, there’s a little bit of experimentation going on seeing as these are friendlies rather than games that mean something at a competition like, say, the World Cup.
But for Miretti and Fagioli — as well as Chiesa who is just back from 10 months on the sidelines due to injury — this is a big deal. These are two youngsters being rewarded for what they’ve done over the course of the last few months. And while their paths have been a little different — Miretti bursting onto the scene late last season, Fagioli going out on loan and then waiting patiently before his chance to play arrived this year — it’s still very much a reflection of the talent the two of them have.
And for it to happen in the same cycle — yes, I know, no World Cup, tisk tisk — as Chiesa is surely being welcomed back into the Italy squad with open arms, that’s pretty dang cool.
So now we see how much each of them will play.
On top of that, even though it comes during the first few days of a six-week break in Serie A action, we also will be hoping (and praying?) that none of them will get hurt because that’s just the last thing we need to see happen in games that have nothing really attached to them whatsoever.