The Alternates: Italy National Team

Gianluigi Buffon (R) receives the Pallone Azzurro trophy from Marco Verratti at Coverciano on March 26, 2017 in Florence, Italy.
Gianluigi Buffon (R) receives the Pallone Azzurro trophy from Marco Verratti at Coverciano on March 26, 2017 in Florence, Italy. /

If you have been following along this week as we have covered the depth available to the national teams of Germany, Spain and France, the last major European league to cover is the national team from Italy.

If you compare, the Alternate XI from Italy is not quite as strong as the first three nations covered this week but as history has taught us, you can never count out Italy when it comes to international football.

The inspiration for this series comes from Germany’s ho-hum 1-0 win in a friendly is being celebrated in England during the March 2017 international break and raises flags about England’s ability to compete against the European powerhouses in the World Cup next summer.

At, the challenge is to name a squad of players currently outside the Italian national team and see if there is enough quality among the Alternates to compete with a full-strength England side.

Monday – Germany

Tuesday – Spain

Wednesday – France

Thursday – Italy

Friday – England (… is there hope on the horizon)

Current Squad (March 2017 Qualifiers)


Manager: Gian Piero Ventura

Keepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Alex Meret, Gianluigi Donnarumma

Defenders: Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Mattia de Sciglio, Davide Zappacosta, Alessio Romagnoli, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Daniele Rugani, Matteo Darmian

Midfielders: Marco Verratti, Marco Parolo, Antonio Candreva, Daniele De Rossi, Roberto Gagliardini, Lorenzo Insigne

Forwards: Andrea Bellotti, Ciro Immobile, Eder, Simone Verdi, Nicola Sansone,

Injured: Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia Perin, Alessandro Florenzi, Angelo Ogbonna, Manolo Gabbiadini

Italy – Alternate Squad: 4-3-3

GK: Salvatore Sirigu (Osasuna)

RB: Lorenzo De Silvestri (Torino)

CB: Mattia Caldara (Atalanta)

CB: Davide Astori (Fiorentina)

LB: Domenico Criscito (Zenit)

DM: Jorginho (Napoli)

CM: Andrea Poli (Milan)

CM: Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)

LW: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)

F:  Simone Zaza (Valencia)

RW: Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo)

Sub GK: Simone Scuffet (Udinese)

Sub D: Davide Santon (Inter)

Sub D: Andrea Ranocchia (Hull City)

Sub M: Bryan Cristante (Atalanta)

Sub M: Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma)

Sub F: Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng)

Sub F: Matteo Politano (Sassuolo)


73-year-old midfielder Claudio Marchisio (who is actually 31 but it feels like he’s played forever) would captain the side that would be bolstered by the youth Italy has in the pipeline with Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara (highlight video above) and Sassuolo winger Domenico Berardi.  Simone Zaza would lead the line despite dreadful form for West Ham and Valencia this season.

Other attacking players would be pulled from China (Pelle) and Major League Soccer (Giovinco).  Of course, looking at the players currently injured for Italy, they would provide a boost for either this side or their national team.

How does this team stack up to England’s first XI?  Of the four Alternate teams profiled this week, this is the one side England would be expected to beat comfortably.  With only Marchisio and Jorginho playing regularly for top clubs, this side would challenge but lacks the quality available to England manager Gareth Southgate.

Next: Everton: New Zealand star set for big move to Premier League

While it feels good to finally type that, many people could point to Iceland at last summer’s Euros not having the same quality either and we all know how that turned out.

What do you think the result would be between England’s first XI and Italy’s Alternate XI?  Please leave a comment and thanks for reading.