Italy will be "hungry for revenge" following their World Cup absence when they meet Spain at the Nations League Finals in June, Roberto Mancini's assistant Alberico Evani has told Stats Perform.

The European champions missed out on a second consecutive edition of the global tournament last year after falling to a shock qualification play-off defeat against North Macedonia in March.

However, the Azzurri bounced back to top a competitive Nations League group containing Hungary, Germany and England as they qualified for the competition's final four for the second edition in a row.

Italy will face Spain – who beat them in the 2021 semi-finals at San Siro – on June 15 following Wednesday's draw, while hosts Netherlands will meet Croatia.

Evani, who was a World Cup runner-up as a player in 1994 before joining Mancini's backroom team in 2018, knows Spain will be tough opponents but hopes Italy can prove a point.

"We've struggled against them in the past because of their style of play," Evani said of the threat posed by La Roja. 

"We would have preferred to avoid them, but it's also nice to have to play against them, as we can see if we have improved. 

"We are the only two teams who reached the final four in the last two consecutive editions. Let's see if we can change the result. 

"We are hungry for revenge and to take back what we have left in London two years ago [when winning the delayed Euro 2020]. 

"We have the skills to do it and we are doing all we can to be competitive again, we are working to be in the best possible conditions in June."

Mancini recently called for coaches to be braver in giving top-level experience to young Italian players, something Evani is also keen to see. 

"We had a camp right before Christmas and we called up all these young players. There is a lot of quality, they are interesting players with big futures ahead of them," he said.

"We hope their respective clubs will let them play more and more so they can gain the right experience. We have the talents, I think the future is bright."

Evani was speaking less than a week after Serie A giants Juventus were issued with a 15-point deduction following an investigation into the club's past transfer dealings.

Italy won the 2006 World Cup amid investigations that saw several of Serie A's top clubs punished in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal, and Evani hopes the Azzurri can again find motivation from a crisis affecting the country's domestic league.

"Our country always find strength in hardships," he said. "We didn't qualify for the World Cup and we now have this issue with the entire Italian football system. Who knows, we might be able to find the right boost to reach new heights."

Roberto Mancini believes Italy have four or five young players on the same level as England's Jude Bellingham, but the Azzurri boss says coaches must be brave enough to give them minutes.

Having failed to qualify for last year's World Cup, Italy will get their bid to defend the European Championship trophy they won in 2021 under way with a qualifier against England in March.

England's run to the last eight in Qatar saw a number of young players – including Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham and Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka – come to the fore.

Mancini does not believe Italy lack talented young players. The Azzurri's problem, he claims, lies in coaches' reluctance to hand them top-level experience. 

"I think Italy have four or five talents with the quality of Bellingham, but they need to be given playing time," Mancini said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"There are talented young people, I hope they can play and gain experience with their clubs to be useful to us.

"In England, the Netherlands or Germany, if a player is talented, he will be allowed to play. Here we've got four or five at this level, but they need to play."

Italy scored just 13 goals in eight games as they finished below Switzerland in their World Cup qualification group, before falling to a crushing play-off defeat against North Macedonia.

Mancini has made revamping Italy's attack a priority ahead of their next campaign, saying: "In the past there was a lack of defenders or midfielders, today we don't have great forward players.

"We are trying to find them. If we succeed, it will be a good thing. Gianluca Scamacca, for example, is gaining good experience, the Premier League is difficult. 

"Young people have to play, in Italy or abroad. In our opinion, there are quality players, the hope is to have them gain more experience.

"Do the coaches lack the courage? The coaches have to achieve results, so each pursues his own course."

Gianluca Vialli told Roberto Mancini Italy must triumph at the 2026 World Cup the last twice the two great friends were together.

Former Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea striker Vialli died aged 58 last Friday, having been re-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021.

Vialli served as head of delegation for the Azzurri until last month, working closely with his long-time friend Mancini – his strike partner during a hugely successful spell at Sampdoria – as they won Euro 2020.

Following Vialli's passing, Mancini described him as his "little brother" and pledged to dedicate any future successes with Italy to him.

On Tuesday, Mancini revealed Vialli demanded he leads the Azzurri to glory in the United States, Mexico and Canada in three years' time.

"I went to visit Luca in London in December, and I'll be honest, I was a little scared," Mancini said during an appearance on RAI 1 show Porta a Porta.

"He woke up, we laughed, joked around, we called [former Sampdoria team-mate] Attilio Lombardo on the phone. He told me, 'I am relaxed, don't worry'. He was the one trying to raise my spirits.

"Gianluca told me we have to win the World Cup in 2026 and that he'll be there with us. He certainly will be right there, and we hope to dedicate a great victory to him very soon."

Roberto Mancini has described his "little brother" Gianluca Vialli as a "perfect and courageous man" after he died at the age of 58

Former Italy, Cremonese, Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea striker Vialli passed away on Friday.

The hugely popular and successful Vialli was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and was re-diagnosed with the disease in 2021, having been given the all-clear three years ago.

Ex-Chelsea manager Vialli's death has rocked the football world less than a month after he stepped down from his duties as head of delegation for the Italy national team.

Italy head coach Mancini has spoken of his final visit to see his long-time close friend late last month, so soon after the death of Sinisa Mihajlovic.

He told the Corriere dello Sport: "He was powerless, with little voice, but very lucid. We talked a bit about everything, he even asked me about the get-together in December with the youths. He wanted to know the developments of the project."

Mancini paid a glowing tribute to Vialli, who he celebrated a European Championship triumph with at Wembley in June 2021 following a win over England.

He added: "Luca was smiling, we joked. I told him that he was earning more than me at Sampdoria, the president was paying him more than me. A few days after Sinisa's farewell, I lose another brother, a little brother, as I liked to call him.

"We met when we were 16 and we never split. The entire journey together. Azzurri's youth sector, national team, Samp, joys and pain, victories and defeats. Those two nights at Wembley.

"Once we cried with sadness and bitterness, many years ago. The other time, we cried with joy, as we were united by destiny, before his death. Gianluca was the best of us, a complete striker, a perfect and courageous man.

"I've long hoped he could become the president of Sampdoria, he would have opened an extraordinary history, as when he was a footballer. It was a privilege to be his friend and a team-mate in football and life.

"He made me happy. He had a decisive role in the victory of the Euros. Players loved him. Gianluca had the strength and gave us the courage we didn't know we had which he used to fight the illness, staying with us until he could.

"I say goodbye to another brother, after Sinisa. With his strength, I'll go forward to dedicate to him something relevant, which we've been dreaming of for a lifetime."

Sinisa Mihajlovic was given a fond farewell by the good and great of Italian football as his funeral was held in Rome on Monday.

Former team-mates Roberto Mancini, Attilio Lombardo and Dejan Stankovic were among those who carried Mihajlovic's coffin out of the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and of the Martyrs after the service, to the sound of applause from within the church.

Mihajlovic and Italy head coach Mancini were team-mates at Sampdoria and Lazio, with Mancini later also coaching Mihajlovic at Lazio before taking the then 35-year-old with him to Inter in 2004.

They had a close friendship, winning the Serie A title together with Sven-Goran Eriksson's Lazio in the 1999-2000 season, and doing so again at Inter in 2006, as player and coach.

Mihajlovic's death after a battle with leukaemia was announced on Friday, a shuddering jolt to the football community in Italy, where the popular former Yugoslavia international spent most of his career. He died last week at the age of 53.

After his playing days ended, Mihajlovic became Mancini's Inter assistant before having spells as a head coach with Bologna, Catania, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Milan, Torino and, finally, Bologna for a second time.

Mihajlovic was ousted as Bologna boss in September of this year, after a slow start to the season, and the players he left behind made the trip to Rome to pay tribute.

Mancini said ahead of the funeral that Mihajlovic had "fought like a lion until the last moment, as he was used to doing on the pitch".

As a player, Mihajlovic was a tough-tackling defender who also packed a fierce shot and became known as a free-kick expert.

Wife Arianna led the family at the funeral. She wrote on Instagram following Mihajlovic's death: "When you will no longer be part of me, I will carve out of your memory many little stars, then the sky will be so beautiful that the whole world will fall in love with the night."

She also posted a picture of the couple and their five children, stating: "I'll take care of them don't worry. Our greatest masterpiece! We'll never stop loving you."

Former Serbia, Lazio, Roma and Inter defender Aleksander Kolarov was among the mourners, along with Serie A luminaries including Francesco Totti, Franco Baresi, Daniele De Rossi, Angela Di Livio and Stefano Fiore.

The Corriere dello Sport newspaper reported the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, was also in attendance, along with Italy's sports minister, Andrea Abodi.

Italy boss Roberto Mancini described the death of Sinisa Mihajlovic as "not fair" as he hailed his great friend for showing the heart of a lion in his battle with leukaemia.

The pair were team-mates at Sampdoria and Lazio, with Mancini also coaching Mihajlovic at Lazio before taking the then 35-year-old with him to Inter in 2004.

They had a great bond, winning the Scudetto together with Sven-Goran Eriksson's team in 1999-2000, and doing so again at Inter in 2006, as player and coach.

Mihajlovic's death was announced on Friday, coming as a huge jolt to the football community in Italy, where the former Yugoslavia international spent most of his career.

After his playing days ended, Mihajlovic became Mancini's Inter assistant before having spells as a head coach with Bologna, Catania, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Milan, Torino and, finally, Bologna for a second time.

During the 2015-16 season, Mancini and Mihajlovic were rival bosses in the same city as Mancini led Inter and Mihajlovic was in charge of Milan.

Mihajlovic was ousted as Bologna boss in September of this year, after a slow start to the season.

"This is a day I never wanted to live, because I lost a friend with whom I shared almost 30 years of my life, on and off the pitch," said Mancini, Italy's Euro 2020-winning head coach, in quotes reported by the Italian Football Federation's official website.

"It's not fair that such a terrible disease took away a 53-year-old lad, who fought like a lion until the last moment, as he was used to doing on the pitch.

"And this is exactly how Sinisa will always remain by my side, even if he is no longer there, as he did in Genoa [with Sampdoria], in Rome [with Lazio] and in Milan [at Inter] and subsequently also when we took different paths."

Mihajlovic was first diagnosed with leukaemia in 2019 and underwent a bone marrow transplant in October of that year, returning to the Bologna dugout just six weeks later.

When he discovered a problem in March of this year, former hard-man defender Mihajlovic said the leukaemia was "very courageous in returning to face an opponent like me".

Italy deserved to automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup given their status as European champions, according to head coach Roberto Mancini.

Top seeds Italy finished second to Switzerland in their qualifying group and then suffered a shock loss to North Macedonia in March's play-off semi-final.

It means Italy have missed out on successive World Cups, having also failed to reach Russia 2018, though they did win Euro 2020 in between those qualifying disappointments.

However, Mancini insists the Azzurri should not have had to go through the qualifying process for Qatar on the back of conquering their continent last year.

"Not only the European champions but the winners in every continent," he added in an interview with Corriere Della Sera. "I am saying it for football's good. 

"Likewise, who won the title in the previous edition should always be involved. It used to be like this in the past. Football does not only make good decisions for itself."

Italy moved on from their World Cup heartbreak by advancing to next year's Nations League Finals, where they will be joined by Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands.

The longer-term aim for Mancini is to reach Euro 2024 and then the next World Cup, which will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico a little under four years from now.

Mancini, who is under contract with the Azzurri until after that tournament, said: "I stayed because I want to take revenge [by reaching the World Cup]. 

"But right now we can't look so far ahead. The 2026 World Cup is far away. Now we must focus on the Nations League Finals and the qualification for the Euros.

"I wanted to stay to chase the World Cup, but nothing is definitive in football and things can still change. We want to go to the next World Cup and hopefully win it."

Italy lost 2-0 to Austria in a friendly on Sunday and are next in action in four months' time when hosting England in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has conceded that his 3-4-3 formation did not work as intended against Austria, as he criticised his side's poor first half display against the hosts.

The European champions finished 2022 with defeat in Vienna, where two first half goals from Xaver Schlager and David Alaba put the hosts in control.

A poor showing in the first period was improved upon after the break, but Italy could not break Austria's defence, though Mancini believes his side did enough to deserve praise.

"We were better in the second half, in the first half we had the ball and we had to score. After that we suffered, making so many technical mistakes. In the second half, all we were missing was a goal," he said post-match.

"The formation didn't go very well, we did little pressing with the strikers conceding too many spaces.

"The team was too long, we did badly and this penalised us a bit, but in the second half I saw a very good team. We were unlucky and a bit inaccurate."

Italy are not scheduled to be back in action until March, where the defence of their European crown begins with the first qualifying match against England in a rematch of the 2020 final.

Roberto Mancini has tipped Argentina to win their third World Cup as Lionel Messi and team-mates chase glory in Qatar.

Mancini's Italy side will not be involved after a shock 1-0 play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March.

Italy's absence from Qatar comes despite them being the reigning European champions, having beaten England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

That triumph subsequently saw them face off against Argentina in the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima at Wembley in June, after Lionel Scaloni's men won the Copa America.

Argentina comfortably beat Italy 3-0, and Mancini says that performance plays a part in him ranking them as favourites for the World Cup.

"There are many strong teams," Mancini told reporters. "If I had to choose one, I'd go for Argentina.

"They really impressed when we played each other."

Italy have won their last three matches as they look to get over World Cup disappointment, most recently seeing off Albania in a 3-1 friendly victory on Wednesday. They face another game against Austria on Sunday.

Mancini is still upset about the failure to reach Qatar, but he has been pleased with his team's reaction, saying: "We immediately showed a desire to fight back, winning a Nations League group that was by no means easy ahead of Germany, Hungary and England.

"Unfortunately, we’ll have to keep this suffering until mid-December when the tournament is over. Next time, we need to be more precise."

Roberto Mancini was full of praise for Vincenzo Grifo after he played a part in all three goals as Italy came from behind to beat Albania 3-1 in Wednesday's friendly.

A crashing Ardian Ismajli header put Albania ahead in the first half, but a pinpoint Grifo cross allowed Giovanni Di Lorenzo to equalise just four minutes later before the Freiburg man put Italy in front before the break.

Grifo added his second after half-time to kill off the match and secure a third straight win for the European champions since a 5-2 humbling at the hands of Germany in June.

Mancini was delighted with the 29-year-old's impressive performance, telling Rai Sport: "Vincenzo is an extraordinary boy. Grifo is a great player and in the Bundesliga, he is scoring many goals.

"[He is] a very good player, with important qualities. Today he scored two beautiful goals. The whole attack went well.

"You have to play in the best way whatever the moment. We have done good things by also changing the system, that went well."

It was not all good news for Italy as midfielder Sandro Tonali was taken off on a stretcher after an awkward fall in the latter stages of the first half.

But Mancini was positive after the match over Tonali's condition, saying: "He took quite a hit, but he was conscious and I hope to get him back soon."

A Vincenzo Grifo double and a Giovanni Di Lorenzo strike gave Italy a 3-1 comeback friendly victory over Albania in Tirana on Wednesday.

Roberto Mancini's men will not be at the World Cup in Qatar after a play-off defeat to North Macedonia, and they looked on course for another embarrassing loss here as Ardian Ismajli nodded Albania in front.

But Italy hit back almost immediately through Di Lorenzo, before Grifo added goals either side of half-time to secure victory.

It is now three straight wins for the European champions since their humiliating 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Germany in June, as they look to bounce back from their World Cup disappointment.

Italy started brightly, but they fell behind when Ismajli rose highest to meet Nedim Bajrami's free-kick, sending a sublime header crashing into the top right corner.

Albania's lead lasted just four minutes, as Grifo's pinpoint cross picked out Di Lorenzo in the middle to side-foot home.

Creator turned finisher for Italy's second, Giacomo Raspadori squaring for Grifo before the Freiburg man smashed superbly past Etrit Berisha to make it 2-1.

Nicolo Zaniolo hit the base of the post in first-half injury time as Italy looked to build their lead, though Albania clung on to get into the break just a goal behind.

Marash Kumbulla's header shortly after the interval tested Alex Meret, while Grifo nearly scored his second when he lashed the underside of the crossbar.

Albania then hit the woodwork twice themselves, Myrto Uzuni's looping effort beating Meret but not the upper frame of the goal before Bajrami saw a shot deflected onto the bar.

Grifo made it 3-1 after 64 minutes, controlling a cross and dispatching into the far corner to round off the scoring and cap his sensational display.

Roberto Mancini claims Italy are unfortunate not to be at the World Cup, labelling their defeat in qualifying to North Macedonia as "absurd".

The Azzurri faced North Macedonia in a play-off in Palermo in March, only to lose 1-0 thanks to a late Aleksandar Trajkovski strike, despite leading the shot count 32-4 by full time.

It meant Italy would not be present at this year's World Cup, which begins in Qatar on Sunday, but head coach Mancini has dismissed what was perceived as a significant failure from his team to get past comparative underdogs who they will also face in Euro 2024 qualifying.

"The match against Macedonia was an absurd match, which I believe happens once every 100 years and, unfortunately, it happened to us," Mancini said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"It will be a difficult month for us. In the bitterness we may feel at the moment, games have to be played, there are things to see and evaluate."

Italy will play friendlies against Albania and Austria on Wednesday and Sunday as they look ahead to Euro 2024 qualifying, where from March 2023 they will also face England, Ukraine and Malta in Group C.

"It's a pretty tough group, but there aren't any easy groups," Mancini said. "We'll have England right away and then we'll see, but we'll have to fight."

Mancini is one game away from equalling Marcello Lippi and Cesare Prandelli by taking charge of Italy for a 56th time, with only Vittorio Pozzo (95) and Enzo Bearzot (88) having led the team more often.

"I am pleased to join Marcello, who was a great coach, and Cesare," Mancini said. "We hope to do more even if it is long enough to get to the next two."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said the future of Italy's national team is bright after Nicolo Fagioli marked his first Serie A start with a goal in a crucial Derby d'Italia win over Inter.

Fagioli capped an outstanding Juventus counter-attack by beating Andre Onana with a deflected strike as the Bianconeri leapfrogged their rivals in the Serie A table with a 2-0 victory.

As well as making the points safe with his 84th-minute effort, Fagioli created two chances and completed a team-high 93 per cent of his passes, leaving Allegri enthused.

Asked whether Fagioli deserved an Italy call-up, Allegri hailed the 21-year-old and said Juventus' big-name absentees must compete with him and fellow youngster Fabio Miretti when they return.

"You have to ask [Roberto] Mancini," Allegri said. "One thing is certain, I believe that the national team has an important future with strong young players who need to grow, not only at Juve. 

"There is a good pool to face things in the best way in the coming years.

"Whoever is out will have to run, because these kids run. Fagioli and Miretti must be left alone. 

"Every now and then they will play less well, it is normal, but they must enjoy this moment in serenity."

At 21 years and 267 days old, Fagioli is the third-youngest midfielder to score for Juventus in a Derby d'Italia contest in Serie A, after Giacomo Neri in 1936 (20 years, 291 days) and Antonio Montico in 1955 (21 years, 115 days).

Meanwhile, Juventus have now won four consecutive league games without conceding, and Allegri hopes their improved run will breed additional confidence.

"Winning helps you win, especially because you create a team with values. You need to have important values to achieve your goals," Allegri said.

"Tonight, it was nice to see everyone participating in the match, those who played and those who didn't, with great enthusiasm. 

"We must enjoy the victory tonight but from tomorrow we must immediately think about Verona, otherwise on Thursday we risk throwing what we have done overboard. 

"We are two points from fourth place, let's see what happens in Verona."

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini is excited by the prospect of facing England in Euro 2024 qualifying, declaring "it will be nice to meet again".

England and Italy were drawn alongside Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta in a challenging qualification group on Sunday, from which the top two will qualify automatically for the tournament in Germany.

The duo met as recently as last month, when Giacomo Raspadori's goal condemned England to relegation from the top tier of the Nations League, while Mancini also led the Azzurri to victory over the Three Lions in last year's Euro 2020 final. 

England's dismal Nations League campaign meant they – alongside world champions France – were in pot two for the draw in Frankfurt.

Although Mancini claims he expected Italy to land one of those two giants, he remains content with the draw and is looking forward to meeting Gareth Southgate's men.

"I was sure we would have one between England and France, but that's okay too," Mancini told Rai Sport after the draw.

"It's a group of five, it's doable. But there won't be simple games, they'll all have to be played. 

"It will certainly be beautiful with England, with Southgate we know each other and if it continues like this we are pretty good, I don't know if he agrees. 

"By now this challenge is a classic and, although we faced each other 20 days ago, it will be nice to meet again."

While Italy have happy memories of their recent games against England, remaining unbeaten in their last six head-to-head meetings, the same cannot be said about another of their opponents.

North Macedonia clinched a stunning win over Italy in the World Cup play-offs in March, ensuring the Azzurri missed out on a second consecutive edition of the tournament.

Mancini is urging caution ahead of that reunion, adding: "It's one of those games that happen every now and then. As we saw in Palermo, all matches must be played, even the simplest ones."

The Azzurri boss was also pleased to be drawn alongside Ukraine, declaring: "There will be some emotion... but Ukraine is still a good national team."

Italy coach Roberto Mancini is already targeting World Cup glory in 2026, as the Azzurri prepare to "suffer" through this year's tournament after failing to qualify.

The European champions will be the most high-profile side to miss the tournament in Qatar after slipping to a humiliating play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March.

Italy were also absent from Russia in 2018 following a play-off loss to Sweden, meaning their exile from football's most storied competition will stretch to a minimum of 12 years.

The Azzurri also suffered group-stage exits in 2010 and 2014, meaning their most recent World Cup knockout tie remains 2006's final victory over France.

Mancini, however, is determined to end Italy's World Cup woes when the tournament heads to the United States, Mexico and Canada in four years' time, and believes their failure to reach Qatar was unjust. 

"Winning with the national team is the best thing there can be," he said at an event in Rome. 

"Giving Italians such joy is incredible, now we have to wait four years. We will aim to win the next World Cup in America.

"We are working, unfortunately we will suffer until December - the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup does not pass me. 

"It was totally unfair, but the defeats must be faced. We did not deserve to stay out of the World Cup, but unfortunately, that's how it went."

Asked why he chose to continue as Italy coach following their play-off embarrassment, the former Manchester City boss added: "Honestly, I don't know, at that moment I just wanted to turn the page because it went badly. 

"But winning the European Championship gives an incredible joy. Now we have to wait a few years and then we want to try for those emotions again."

Italy have since salvaged some pride by winning their Nations League group, finishing above Hungary, Germany and England to reach next year's finals.

And Mancini was keen to emphasise the difficulty of that achievement, adding: "It wasn't easy, the boys put everything in. 

"England are a danger to win the World Cup, they have an incredible squad and Hungary are a very physical team."

Italy will contest friendlies against Albania and Austria when elite club football pauses for the World Cup in November. 

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