Zaniolo apologises for Italy's World Cup failure as he makes Azzurri pledge

By Sports Desk June 18, 2022

Nicolo Zaniolo has apologised for Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar as he pledged to become a key part of Roberto Mancini's next Azzurri side.

Italy will miss a second successive World Cup this year after falling to a stunning play-off reverse to North Macedonia in March, and their misery was compounded this month when they were beaten 3-0 by Argentina at Wembley in the Finalissima.

They also won just one of their first four Nations League games, losing 5-2 to Germany last time out.

Zaniolo was absent as Mancini's men beat England on penalties to win the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament last July, and made just one appearance throughout Italy's unsuccessful World Cup qualification campaign.

The creative midfielder is desperate to become a key part of Mancini's next side, and hailed the job the former Manchester City boss has done with the national team.

"I'm sorry, because we have to wait another four years," he told Sportweek. "But let's go on. I'm used to chasing. There will be other goals in between.

"The first time Mancini called me I was very young... He came there to talk to me, to make me feel immediately at ease. Great person, professional. I will do everything to convince Mancini."

Moving forward, Italy will be without defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini, who won his 117th and final international cap in the Argentina defeat – matching Daniele De Rossi as his nations' fourth-most capped player.

And Zaniolo thinks the former Juventus man will be difficult to replace.

"[Chiellini] has always been the most difficult to overcome," he said. "He is physically strong and off the pitch, he is an exceptional person."

At club level, Zaniolo enjoyed a successful campaign under Jose Mourinho at Roma, making 30 appearances in all competitions as the Giallorossi won the Europa Conference League, and scored the only goal of last month's final win over Feyenoord.

The 22-year-old says he has learnt a lot from playing under Mourinho.

"He's a winner," he said. "He taught me how to get into position in the defensive phase, where we had to improve and I still have to do it. 

"He helped me to manage certain situations, in the past I would have reacted badly or worse due to exclusion from games that were very significant for me. 

"He taught me to bite my tongue, [to be] mute and work more in the field."

Related items

  • Real Madrid 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt: Benzema overtakes Raul as Los Blancos seal Super Cup success Real Madrid 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt: Benzema overtakes Raul as Los Blancos seal Super Cup success

    Karim Benzema moved to second in Real Madrid's all-time goalscoring charts as Los Blancos followed up May's Champions League win by beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in the Super Cup.

    David Alaba prodded home when Eintracht failed to deal with a first-half corner to give Carlo Ancelotti's men the lead in Helsinki, before Benzema fired past Kevin Trapp 20 minutes after the break to seal the win.

    Benzema's effort took him to 324 goals in all competitions for Madrid, putting him one ahead of legendary Spain forward Raul and trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo (450).

    Having made a bright start, Europa League victors Eintracht were ultimately second best as Madrid cruised to victory, offering a reminder of their nous on the European stage at the outset of the new season.

    Eintracht missed the first clear chance when Daichi Kamada forced Thibaut Courtois into a superb one-on-one save after 14 minutes, before Tuta denied Vinicius Junior with an incredible goal-line block two minutes later.

    Vinicius again went close when Trapp tipped his low effort around the post 36 minutes in, but Madrid broke the deadlock from the resulting corner as Casemiro nodded down for Alaba to convert into a gaping net.

    Benzema flashed a fierce volley wide of the bottom-left corner as Madrid ended the first half on top, before Trapp made a reflex save from Vinicius' left-footed strike 10 minutes after the break.

    With Madrid establishing greater control, Casemiro rattled the crossbar with a sweet left-footed strike from range before Courtois made a routine save when Ansgar Knauff led a rare Eintracht foray. 

    But Benzema, the outstanding candidate for the Ballon d'Or, was determined to have the final say, drilling Vinicius' cut-back under Trapp to ensure LaLiga champions Madrid would take another piece of silverware back to the Spanish capital.

    What does it mean? Another title for continental kings Madrid

    Madrid won the Super Cup for the fifth time on Wednesday, as they atoned for a memorable defeat in their last appearance in the competition (4-2 v Atletico Madrid in 2018).

    The results means the Champions League holders have won nine of the last 10 editions while the Spanish giants have won 17 of their last 19 one-legged finals.

    Karim the dream

    Benzema's unbelievable return of 15 Champions League goals helped Madrid to their 14th European crown last season, and the France star picked up where he left off to steal the headlines in Finland.

    Only Ronaldo has now outscored Benzema in the famous white shirt, while his bid to be named the world's best player has gone from strength to strength. 

    Don Carlo reigns again 

    Ancelotti became the first coach to win four European Cup/Champions League titles with May's hard-fought final win over Liverpool, and his latest success saw him become the Super Cup's most decorated boss.

    His fourth triumph in the competition (having also won with Milan in 2003 and 2007 and Madrid in 2014) saw him move one clear of Pep Guardiola. 

    What's next?

    Madrid begin the defence of their LaLiga title at Almeria on Sunday, while Frankfurt go to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Saturday. 

  • Benzema overtakes Raul in Real Madrid's all-time scorers list Benzema overtakes Raul in Real Madrid's all-time scorers list

    Karim Benzema became Real Madrid's outright second-highest goalscorer as he overtook Raul by netting in the Super Cup.

    Benzema tied level in second place on the club's list of scorers back in May, when he equalled Los Blancos great Raul on 323 goals with a header in a 6-0 rout of Levante.

    He is now alone in second, on 324, after netting Madrid's second against Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday in Helsinki.

    With David Alaba having put Madrid ahead in the first half, Benzema made it 2-0 in the 65th minute as he struck up with Vinicius Junior for a familiar combination.

    Vinicius assisted Benzema 10 times last season, and the Brazil winger's cross from the left side of the area presented Madrid's new club captain with the chance to side-foot home a first-time finish that crept through Kevin Trapp.

    Only Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a remarkable 450 goals during his nine-year spell at Santiago Bernabeu between 2009 and 2018, stands ahead of Benzema, though it would seem unlikely the 34-year-old France striker will go on to match that record.

     

  • Brentford sign Euro 2020 star Damsgaard Brentford sign Euro 2020 star Damsgaard

    Brentford have announced the signing of Denmark midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard in a reported £12.6million (€15m) transfer.

    Damsgaard leaves Serie A, where he had played for Sampdoria since 2020.

    The 22-year-old scored only two goals in 46 league games in Italy, providing four assists, but he caught the eye at Euro 2020 last year as Denmark reached the semi-finals.

    Damsgaard scored twice, including a spectacular first goal in the 2-1 last-four defeat to England, as well as adding an assist.

    Brentford coach Thomas Frank said of Damsgaard, who has signed a five-year contract: "Mikkel is, in my opinion, another classic Brentford signing.

    "He is a young player with big potential to develop further. We know we can help Mikkel reach his highest level, we have the staff here that have experience in doing that."

    Damsgaard will hope to help plug the creative gap left by Denmark team-mate Christian Eriksen, who left Brentford for Manchester United after a successful short-term spell at the club last season.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.