After more than 90 minutes of suffering on Saturday night, Italy fans found their breathing again, as Federico Chiesa came off the bench to give them the lead with a spectacular goal.
The Azzurri became one of the main favorites to win Euro 2020 after an imposing start to the tournament. However, they found themselves facing the threat of an early elimination, as Austria proved to be a capable opponent in the round of 16.
Whilst the likes of Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and especially Domenico Berardi found difficulties against the tough and composed Austrian defenses, the introduction of the Juventus man brought the Azzurri’s attack to life.
The 22-year-old broke the deadlock in extra-time, as Roberto Mancini’s men ended up winning 2-1.
After 80 exhausting minutes, Chiesa’s pace and trickery were too much for his tired opponents to deal with, as he menaced them with one lightning run after another.
The former Fiorentina star is therefore expected to start ahead of Berardi when Italy meet Belgium in the quarter finals on Friday night.
Based on Federico’s heroics in the weekend, a starting berth is fully deserved, but would it be the best option for Mancini ahead of what will be by far his biggest test in the competition?
In his late cameo against Austria, the Bianconeri star put on a thrilling show, but some would argue that he’s meant to be a super-sub, whose role is to exploit the spaces found later in the match.
Nonetheless, the Azzurri will find a different opponent from the defensive-minded teams they met so far.
Roberto Martinez is expected to launch an attacking-minded side (despite the potential absence of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard), which means that the Italians could be allowed the opportunity to play counter attacking football – which is where Chiesa truly thrives.
Facing the aging Belgian defensive line, the rising Juventus star could be Italy’s best bet to slay the tournament’s hot favorites, and therefore, he should be given the full 90 minutes, otherwise, he risks entering at a stage where it would be a little too late.