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Why Immobile Missed Out on Italy’s Squad for Euro 2024

Why Immobile Missed Out on Italy’s Squad for Euro 2024
Why Immobile Missed Out on Italy’s Squad for Euro 2024

Italy took a very difficult route to finally secure their qualification for Euro 2024. Drawn into a group with England was already a difficult task – a repeat of the Euro 2020 final in which the team in blue won – but they only just managed to keep hold of 2nd spot. Their +4 goal differential is all that kept them above Ukraine.

Their 0-0 draw in the final game against Ukraine is what got them over the line. What that 0-0 also said was everything that needed to be said about the other 9 games. The performances across the 10 qualifying games were uninspiring. Luciano Spalletti took over from Roberto Mancini (the man who led Italy to that Euro 2020 success) in August – halfway through their qualification campaign. A team proud of its defensive prowess had little to be proud of and at the other end of the pitch, they were toothless.

The Men Leading the Italian Attack

Spalletti’s title-winning Napoli had a very traditional number nine leading their line. Victor Osimhen ran the channels and was a significant threat in the box. However, he also had Giacomo Raspadori in the squad who would come in to replace Osimhen, who is a totally different type of striker.

Mancini favoured Ciro Immobile during his time as Italy boss. It was hard to drop the Lazio hitman when he was in fine form for his club and a lethal finisher in general. It was no shock to see the Lazio captain in the starting striker role for Spalletti’s first match. However, three days later, in the former Napoli manager’s second game in charge, Raspadori started. Since then, Immobile hasn’t played for the Azzurri. Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca were favoured in their remaining qualifying matches, with Mateo Retegui and Moise Kean supporting them in the squads.

What’s Gone Wrong for Immobile?

Ciro Immobile is 34 years old. While Serie A is a league in which many elderly statesmen prolong their years at the top, Father Time catches up with everyone. He still turned in 7 goals in the league but that’s a far cry from previous ones.

Not only that, his shots figures and shot-creating actions are down quite considerably. Yes, Lazio had a change of manager halfway through the season when the team was struggling but even when Lazio have been playing better and winning – and scoring! – Immobile has hardly been involved.

Other players like Valentin Castellanos, Mattia Zaccagni, and Gustav Isaksen have been clinical in their captain’s stead. Immobile is still receiving a good amount of dangerous passes and getting touches in the opposition box – but he isn’t turning them into shots or shot-creating passes. He is currently where attacks go to stagnate or die.

His Role with Italy

Getting dropped at club level is much more difficult than it is at international – or so you would think, but Southgate’s commitment to the likes of Harry Maguire makes that logic hard to stand by. Immobile continues to start in most Lazio matches; although, it is possible that he gets a big transfer to Inter or Saudi Arabia this summer. However, the rise of Raspadori and the great form of Scamacca mean Immobile has been easily ousted from his position in the Italy squad.

It’s hard to deny his potential impact off the bench. He has the know-how that few other options available to Spalletti have. However, that’s a very abstract reason to include him in the squad. He hasn’t scored for ages and doesn’t look likely to. Yes, the other players and Italian coaching staff will have hope that if he is picked for the games this summer that he will be ready and clinical, but it might be a fool’s kind of hope. But is that a bad thing? When games at international tournaments are separated by such fine margins – a single goal in most instances – anyone can be a hero.