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Italy U21 4-0 Israel U21: Tactical Player Report

We at OOTB have introduced a new special feature for the U21 European Championship. Many of the players from these tournaments go onto bigger and better things in the future. With the plethora of young talent on show, we will try to compile lists of the best players from each game, to help you keep a better track of the stars of tomorrow. These reports will be detailed Tactical Player Reports to give you a better sense of how these players perform on a football pitch. For more detailed Scout Reports on the best young footballers, click here.


This was an important game for both teams. Hosts Israel needed a win to have a realistic chance of making the next round. A win for Italy would seal their place in the semi finals.

The game started out evenly,with both teams looking to attack. Italy relied on their passing and link up play,and Israel looked for speed in the movements after breaking up Italian play,to hit on the break.

However,the game took a turn for the worse for Israel after they they had a player (fairly) sent off for a two footed challenge.

After this event,Italy dominated proceedings and possession in a one sided affair. The final score of 4-0 wasn’t at all flattering to the Azzuri,who put in another wonderful performance.

Tactical Player Reports

Manolo Gabbiadini

The young striker made a good impression as a substitute against England,and earned his place along side Immobile in the starting line up for this game.

The stand out feature of his game is his movement. The player displays a lot of intelligence in the timing and direction of his runs. His runs are mostly based around the movement of the target man,and in this respect,he did very well to constantly keep opposition defenders occupied.

Technically,he does well too,and his quick inter-play with Immobile and Insigne was a highlight of the match. The passes and lay-offs were very accurate.

The secret to performing such moves well is speed of thought,and Gabbiadini shows a lot of imagination and creativity at a high speed. Breaking down defences often requires a sudden change in tempo,and Gabbiadini is capable of effecting such a change.

As a striker of course,shooting and finishing are the most important aspects of his game. Gabbiadini impressed one and all with this side of his game. Both his goals were well taken,accurate and powerful shots(one was a free kick). The goal from open play came after intelligent play and a quick shot.

Defensively,he did a decent job,helping his midfielders to break down attacks.

Ciro Immobile

This was Immobile’s second start of the tournament,and he did a very good job in this game. Though he didn’t get on the score sheet himself, the Genoa man did well, bringing his team-mates into the game, creating opportunities for them to score.

Immobile is so important for Italy because he plays the target man role, and does so very well. His ability to attract defenders creates a lot of space for his team-mates. The player also displays a lot of athleticism and strength, making it very difficult to get him off the ball.

His tactical intelligence is also very good. Against England, he kept their line deep by playing off the shoulder of the last defender. In the game against Israel,he joined in the build up play, and made a number of intelligent lay offs to other players. His partnership with Gabbiadini in particular was very fruitful.

It’s a common belfief that the most important thing for a striker is scoring goals. Though he hasn’t struck gold in this tournament,he has shown potential. Importantly, he looks to shoot early. This is a tactic that has stood a number of forwards in good stead over the years, Jermain Defoe being the prime example.

Defensively, he could improve his contribution, and press opposition defenders a lot more. Doing so will make his team’s job a lot easier.

Aerially, his play is very good, and he wins a lot of headers, helping his team to build attacks.

Taleb Twatiha

Israel’s 20-yr-old left-back was the pick of the players for the home side. He started off playing on the left-side of the Israeli defence, but constantly ventured forward, whenever possible. Much like the rest of the team, the quickness of his play was superb to watch. Not just his movement, or his pace, or the passes he played, everything about him was pacy and quick, almost at a different level than the rest of the players.

He would often pick the ball in defence and immediately run with it at his feet, taking on the on-coming defenders. Italy usually had to delpoy 2-3 players on Twatiha when he attacked from deep. He’d cut inside, take on a midfielder or two, before looking for a quick give & go, which never came. His team-mates were never nearly really at the same wavelength as him.

His blistering pace, matched with his quick feet make him a good option for a wing-backs role. He displayed his attacking attributes for much of the game, a swift player always looking for the ball down the channels. He did more work as a left-back down the flank than the left-winger himself, in an attacking sense.

His quick pace was also beneficial in a defensive sense, as he was quick to get back from an attacking phase when possession was conceded to the Italians. Off-the-ball, his movement in attacking was commendable, but in a defensive play as well he constantly closed down opponents, albeit leaving a couple of gaps in the process.

It was a shame that Israel were down to 10 men because it restricted Twatiha’s game. He looks like a really unknown raw talent, another one waiting to be unearthed.

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