Italy player ratings vs Albania: Barella spares Dimarco’s blushes

Italy were a long way from their best in their Euro 2024 opener against Albania, but the Azzurri managed a comeback win largely thanks to Nicolo Barella's efforts in midfield.

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The Italy Men's National Team starting XI line up ahead of their 2024 European Championship opener against Albania. (@Azzurri)

The Italy Men’s National Team kicked off their 2024 European Championship with a 2-1 comeback win in Group B against Albania.

The Azzurri suffered a nightmare start to their Euro 2024 campaign, falling behind inside 30 seconds. Before a single Italy player had touched the ball in play, Federico Dimarco carelessly threw the ball in the direction of Alessandro Bastoni in front of the Azzurri goal, only for Sassuolo‘s Nedim Bajrami to pounce, intercept, and rifle into Gianluigi Donnarumma‘s goal.

But Bastoni made amends for his part in the mess moments later by heading in the leveller before Nicolo Barella put Italy ahead with a fine strike from the edge of the area.

Italy player ratings vs Albania at Euro 2024

Calafiori Italy Euro 2024
Riccardo Calafiori on the ball for the Italy Men’s National Team at Euro 2024. [@Azzurri]

Donnarumma 5.5; Di Lorenzo 6, Bastoni 5, Calafiori 5.5, Dimarco 4.5 (82′ Darmian N/R); Jorginho 6.5, Barella 6.5 (92′ Folorunsho N/R); Chiesa 5.5 (77′ Cambiaso ), Frattesi 6, Pellegrini 6 (77′ Cristante N/R); Scamacca 5.5 (82′ Retegui N/R).

Italy Player of the Match – Nicolo Barella

Italy Men’s National Team midfielder Nicolo Barella celebrates at Euro 2024. [@Azzurri_AR]

The Inter midfielder opened his scoring account at Euro 2024 in real style to put the Azzurri ahead with just 16 minutes played, dispatching a sweet strike on the bounce into the back of the net from the edge of the box.

That goal was what his performance deserved as, without being spectacular or even really close to his best, Barella was one of the most assured players on the park and showed flashes of his quality throughout the match.

Alongside Jorginho at the base of the Italy midfield, Barella was everywhere he needed to be. Late on when Luciano Spalletti started to shift things a bit, it was the Inter midfielder who moved up closer to Davide Frattesi and Gianluca Scamacca ahead of him to allow Bryan Cristante to offer some extra solidity in front of the defence.

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