The second friendly match between the Italy Under-19 National Team and Portugal finished in a comfortable victory for Federico Guidi’s men at the E.Bambi stadium in Medicina. After going into the break on level terms, Italy upped the ante against Portugal and eventually ran out 3-1 winners. As was to be expected following the 1-0 defeat in the first friendly, Italy Coach Federico Guidi rang the changes for the match. At the back, Gozzi Iweru was brought in to play at centre-back, while Alessandro Russo, just 17-years-old and a runner-up in the Under-17 European Championship in England last May, was put between the sticks. Antonio Candela, who played in the Under-19 final against Portugal in Finland, was also selected.
In midfield, Mattia Viviani and Fabrizio Caligara came into the side, while in attack Alessio Riccardi was partnered by Atalanta striker Roberto Piccoli, who at 17 not only made his debut in this match, but also scored the goal that gave Italy a 2-1 lead. The Italy coach gave game-time to a number of players to assess the potential of a group that next month in Estonia will be taking part in the first qualification stage for the next Under-19 European Championship.
Italy opened the scoring through Alessio Riccardi, who won the ball on the left before striking the ball with his right foot into the back of the net despite the best efforts of Portuguese defender Tiago Silva. Italy were in the ascendency as Caligara, Gavioli and Merola missed chances to double their lead. Instead it was Portugal who got back into it through a lovely Luis Felipe back-heel after he combined well with Joao Mario in the Italian penalty area.
Italy came out for the second half determined and eventually took the lead in the 75th minute through Piccoli, who fired home after his initial header had struck the post following a cross by Candela. Shortly afterwards, Juventus striker Nicolò increased Italy’s lead from the spot in the 84th minute after being fouled in the penalty area.
Federico Guidi was clearly satisfied with the performance of his players: “An excellent game played with intensity and quality. We showed a lot of progress compared with the first friendly three days ago, where despite playing well it was clear we had a few gaps to plug. It was a deserved win: the lads put into practice the ideas that we proposed and the results were clear to see.” With one eye on the European Championship qualifying games coming up, Guidi added the following: “The large amount of rotating we’ve done today has given me the opportunity to take a look at all the players and what I have seen has filled me with confidence.”