FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Italy’s squad for next year’s European Championship will look much the same as the one used in qualifying, coach Roberto Mancini said Monday, denting the hopes of players such as Mario Balotelli.
Italy is on the brink of securing qualification for Euro 2020 after winning all six of its matches so far. Two more victories would confirm Italy as Group J winner, and it could even seal its place at Euro 2020 on Saturday if it beats Greece in Rome and Armenia fails to win against Liechtenstein.
And as far as Mancini is concerned, there’s no reason to make any major changes to his team before the championship starts.
“The group is more or less decided, two or three players might come in or out, maybe,” Mancini said at a news conference on Monday. “Then if someone is suddenly unavailable then we’ll see what happens, but the players who will go to the Euros are all here.”
Balotelli was one of the notable absentees from the group of 27 players called up for the qualifiers against Greece and Liechtenstein.
The striker, who was included in Mancini’s first two squads as coach, has long said his goal is to rejoin Italy’s team for next year’s European Championship.
After returning from a ban, the 29-year-old forward scored for Brescia in his second match for his hometown team, a 2-1 defeat to Napoli.
“He’s only just come back after months out and he’s not quite there physically yet. He did well against Napoli but he needs to play more games,” Mancini said.
Mancini has got Italy back on track, nearly two years after the Azzurri’s embarrassing failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Their six wins out of six is a record for the Azzurri in European Championship qualifying but there has been some criticism that the group has been too easy.
“It would be fantastic to qualify early, this wasn’t a foregone conclusion given where we came from,” Mancini said. “Everyone can express their opinion. We believe we’ve put together a good side.”
He then added with a smile: “We asked for a group with Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain, but they didn’t give it to us.”