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Italy's impotence in attack sees Portugal progress

Pin Insigne couldn't see his side through the game. Italia
Insigne couldn't see his side through the game. Italia

Italy's impotence in attack sees Portugal progress

Simon Green by Simon Green @besoccer_com - 1 2,628

Portugal are through to the final four of the Nations League after holding out for a 0-0 draw against Italy at San Siro.

Italy, captained by Giorginio Chiellini on the occasion of his 100th cap, came in to the game needing a win to have any chance of progressing to the next round of the competition, while Portugal only needed a draw to cement their place in the final four of the tournament.

Despite the Italian way usually consisting of a lot of defensive work and conceding possession to the opposition, the side made it clear that they were going to dictate play from the start.

Patient build-up play from the midfield trio of Verratti, Barella and Jorginho was a clear tactic of Roberto Mancini's, with their passing at time to intricate around the edge of the box to trouble the Portuguese defenders.

For all their domination of the ball in the first period, there were very few chances created, with Barella and Insigne being forced to try from distance to try and open the scoring. Rui Patricio had some shots to save in the Portuguese goal, but nothing particularly taxing.

The second half started in the same fashion, with Italy maintaining their stranglehold on the ball while Portugal defended deep in their own box.

Ciro Immobile offered little in attack, meaning that Lorenzo Insigne was the main threat on goal for the 'Azzurri'. Even so his efforts were exclusively outside the box and rarely troubled the Wolves goalkeeper in the opposition net.

The patient passing play from the Italians produced some brief moments of promise, but each time the defensive unit of Cancelo and Fonte in particular were able to snuff out any danger.

Despite their defensiveness, it was Portugal who had the best chance of the second half. After a cross was half-cleared away, the ball fell to William Carvalho on the edge of the box, whose left-footed shot drew a good save from Donnarumma.

Other than the odd attacking bursts from either side, the tempo of the match slowed significantly as the final whistle drew closer, with Portugal happy to sit back and absorb pressure as they had done all game.

The final whistle put the San Siro faithful out of their misery, with the result meaning that Portugal progress to the final four of the Nations League, Italy remain in the group and Poland are relegated.

Roberto Mancini should take a lot of positives from the performance, but the attacking edge was noticeably missing for his side.

Simon Green

Simon Green

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