Italy ratings v Malta: Southampton star scores on debut

Italy Azzuri

Southampton's Graziano Pelle scored on his Italy debut as the Azzurri ran out 1-0 winners in a disappointing performance against Malta.

Gianluigi Buffon (6/10) – Had so little to do that television cameras cut to him stretching in the Italy goal just to stay loose. Needed to make just one save, comfortably holding a deflected free-kick in the second half.

Matteo Darmian (6/10) – Didn’t look terribly comfortable playing out of position at centre-back. Played a relatively mistake-free 90 minutes of football, but his considerable attacking talents are certainly wasted by deploying him as part of the back three.

Leonardo Bonucci (5.5/10) – Bonucci’s passing was up to his standards and several long balls typical of his game nearly caused difficulty for Malta. Didn’t have much to do at the back until a poor pass from Chiellini left him in a foot race with Andre Schembri which saw Bonucci sent off for hauling down the Maltese. A soft red card, but Bonucci should’ve done better.

Giorgio Chiellini (5.5/10) – Nearly notched his third goal for Italy in two games early on as his thumping header clipped the upright. Responsible in part for Bonucci being sent off due to his lackadaisical pass. Didn’t really put a foot wrong outside of this misstep, however.

Antonio Candreva (5/10) – A nightmarish outing for the Lazio man. Largely held at bay by Clayton Failla. Never was able to make use of his pace or trickery to get to the byline, looking entirely predictable at times. Expect to see Darmian moved back to the right wing-back role.

Alessandro Florenzi (5.5/10) – Another tough day with the Azzurri for the Roman. Looked inclined to drift out wide rather than stay in a more central position as his role requires. Conte has plenty to consider on how to integrate Florenzi into his system.

Marco Verratti (6.5/10) – Was not terrible impressive stepping in for Andrea Pirlo. Certainly the most active of Italy’s midfielders, but wasn’t threatening enough in the final third. Over hit several long balls and did little to stake his claim as a consistent starter in the side.

Claudio Marchisio (6/10) – Couldn’t find any lanes into which to make his trademark slashing runs. Found himself dropping deeper and deeper as the game went on. Somewhat lucky not to give away a dangerous free-kick when his hand-ball on the edge of Italy’s box went unnoticed.

Manuel Pasqual (7/10) – Perhaps Italy’s top performer on a dire day. Provided a number of superb crosses for his team-mates to attack, as well as the corner-kick that led to Pelle’s goal. Raised his stock on a day when most of the Azzurri’s players will be questioned.

Graziano Pelle (7/10) – Hit the crossbar with a powerful header early and then got his just rewards when he bundled over the line after the ball fell to him in the box. Held the ball up well when called upon and showed he can be of use to Conte’s Italy.

Ciro Immobile (5.5/10) – Barely involved in the first half, getting less than 10 touches and lacking service. Was denied a clear penalty early in the second period and headed straight at the Maltese goalkeeper when unmarked, but failed to produce little of note otherwise and was lifted for Sebastian Giovinco.

Substitutes

Alberto Aquilani (6/10) – Didn’t add a great deal of verve after coming on for Florenzi. Completed 98% of his passes, but found himself mostly going backwards.

Sebastian Giovinco (6.5/10) – As he did on Friday against Azerbaijan, Giovinco provided a much-needed spark off the bench. Forced a save out of Andrew Hogg with a dangerous strike from distance and hit the post in stoppages after a neat piece of work.

Angelo Ogbonna (6/10) – Replaced Pelle to shore up the defence after Bonucci was sent off.

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