SPAL defender Kevin Bonifazi, Fiorentina and Ascoli forwards Federico Chiesa and Andrea Favilli are the three new call-ups to the Under-21 National Team for two friendlies which will see Italy face Poland on Thursday 23rd March and Spain on Monday 27th March in Rome. The 26 players called up to the Azzurrini squad by Luigi Di Biagio will gather in Rome on Sunday and matches will provide tests against two fellow finalists before the European Championship between 16th and 30th June in Poland.
The match with Spain is particularly interesting as it sees the two most successful Under-21 countries meet (Five European Championships for Italy, four for La Furia Roja) and it will be a rematch of the final four years ago in Israel where Spain won 4-2.
The Stadio Olimpico in Rome will be hosting an Under-21 match for the third time and it’s been over 30 years since the unforgettable first leg of the final between Italy and Spain in October 1986 when the Azzurrini won 2-1 with goals from Gianluca Vialli and Giuseppe Giannini before defeat on penalties in Valladolid in the second leg.
The match at the Olimpico will also provide another opportunity for experimentation with VAR (Video Assistant Referees) in online made in collaboration with Lega Serie A according to FIFA and IFAB protocol. After the technology made its debut in the match between Gian Piero Ventura’s Italy and France in Bari on 1st September, tests were repeated in November for Italy vs. Germany (senior), Italy vs. Denmark (Under-21) in Bergamo and VAR was used in online mode for the first time in Italy at the Under-19 match in Udine between Italy and Spain. VAR was tested again in online mode on 22nd February and 8th March in Bologna and Empoli as the cities hosted the Under-19 National Team against France and the Under-18 National Team against Denmark.
Goalkeepers: Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta), Simone Scuffet (Udinese);
Defenders: Antonio Barreca (Torino), Davide Biraschi (Genoa), Kevin Bonifazi (Spal), Davide Calabria (Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Alex Ferrari (Hellas Verona), Adam Masina (Bologna),Nicola Murru (Cagliari);
Midfielders: Marco Benassi (Torino), Danilo Cataldi (Genoa), Alberto Grassi (Atalanta), Manuel Locatelli (Milan), Luca Mazzitelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Sassuolo), Valerio Verre (Pescara);
Forwards: Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Alberto Cerri (Pescara), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Federico Di Francesco (Bologna), Andrea Favilli (Ascoli), Luca Garritano (Cesena), Andrea Petagna (Atalanta), Federico Ricci (Sassuolo).
Staff – Delegation Head: Giorgio Bottaro; Accompanying Director: Vincenzo Marinelli; Coach: Luigi Di Biagio; Assistant Coach: Carmine Nunziata; Secretary: Emiliano Cozzi; Goalkeeping Coach: Antonio Chimenti; Fitness Coach: Vito Azzone; Match Analyst: Filippo Lorenzon; Doctors: Angelo De Carli and Luca Gatteschi; Phyiotherapists: Enzo Paolini and Guido Mauro Ferrini; Nutritionists: Cristian Petri.
Schedule (All times CEST)
Arrive at around 12.30 to the ‘Mancini Park Hotel’- Rome
Tuesday 20th March
13:15 Meeting with the press at the hotel (Players)
16:30 Training (Open to press)
Tuesday 21st March
18:25 Flight from Rome to Frankfurt/ Krakow, transfer to Q Plus Hotel
Wednesday 22nd March
13:00 Meet the press in the hotel (Coach)
17:00 Training at Cracovia Stadium (First 15 minutes open to the press)
Thursday 23rd March
10:00 Training (closed)
20:45 POLAND vs. ITALY Under-21, Cracovia Stadium
Meeting with the press afterwards
Friday 24th March
10:00 Training (closed)
17:05 Return Flight
Saturday 25th March
16:00 Training (Open to the press)
Sunday 26th March
13:00 Meeting with the press at the hotel (Coach)
15:30 Training (Closed)
Monday 27th March
21:00 ITALY –SPAIN Under 21, Stadio Olimpico
Meetings with the press and return home to follow