On Sunday night, the Italian national team set a new international record after going unbeaten for 36 matches, breaking the previous record that belonged to Brazil and Spain.
Nevertheless, Roberto Mancini’s men left the pitch on a sour note, as their second draw in a row left them exposed in the lead on the top of their World Cup qualifiers group, as their opponents on the night, Switzerland, are still breathing down their neck with two fixtures in hand.
The big clash in Basel ended in a goalless result, with Yan Sommer frustrating the Azzurri’s attack, but this encounter shed the light on the importance of three Juventus players for the national team, each in his own way.
Following the defensive debacle that costed Italy two important points against Bulgaria on Thursday, Giorgio Chiellini was recalled to the starting lineup.
The Juventus legend put up another defensive masterclass against the Swiss, and helped his side maintain a clean sheet against their toughest opponents in the group.
With all due respect to Francesco Acerbi, the captain remains irreplaceable, even at the age of 37.
The new Juventus signing had already enjoyed a spectacular display against Switzerland at Euro 2020 – bagging a personal brace – but Murat Yakin’s men looked much more solid this time around.
Nevertheless, the former Sassuolo midfielder displayed his variety of weapons throughout the encounter. Locatelli delivered three marvelous long balls that should have been assists, but were wasted by Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne.
At the same time, the 23-year-old was always present to shield the defense and try to retrieve the ball for his team. A true box-to-box midfielder.
The winger wasn’t even present in the starting formation against Switzerland, and yet, his absence spoke volume about his importance for Mancini’s side.
With Ciro Immobile never truly able to replicate his clinical Lazio form on the international level, and Berardi and Insigne succumbing their chances, the young Juventus star has suddenly become the Azzurri’s most prolific goal-scorer.
The former Fiorentina man scored Italy’s lone goal against Bulgaria, and his team fired blanks in his absence from the starting XI.
We bet he’s not going to be dropped for another big occasion anytime soon.