The atmosphere around the Italy Men’s National Team has changed quite a lot since their humbling 1-0 loss to Spain on Matchday 2 of this 2024 European Championship, after needing a comeback win to see off Albania in their Group B opener.

Despite losing by just one goal against their Euro 2020 semi-final opponents, the Azzurri were utterly outclassed from the first to the last minute and had Gianluigi Donnarumma to thank for the scoreline not being a complete embarrassment. 

As a consequence, Azzurri coach Luciano Spalletti is expected to ring the changes in their final Euro 2024 Group B fixture against Croatia.

Changes aplenty to Italy XI for Croatia

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Spalletti is ready to make as many as four changes to his outfield ten, having remained unchanged between the games against Albania and Spain

Spalletti admitted that the loss to Spain was “an ugly, painful game” while centre-back Alessandro Bastoni said that Italy “were missing courage and self-esteem” in Gelsenkirchen. 

Nicolo Fagioli in training with the Italy Men’s National Team. (@Azzurri)

On Friday and Saturday it appeared to be confirmed that Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli would come into the team to play alongside Nicolo Barella in midfield, though La Gazzetta dello Sport are now saying that “he has lost all hope” of featuring from the off. 

On Sunday, Spalletti summed up what Italy need against Croatia as being “less beauty and most substance”, suggesting that it might well be Bryan Cristante who comes in from the start.

It is being reported in Italy that Federico Dimarco, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Davide Frattesi and Gianluca Scamacca will all drop out of the XI. In the case of Dimarco, it is thought that he will be benched as a precaution after his injury concerns, although he has recovered his fitness.

Matteo Darmian in training with the Italy Men’s National Team. (@Azzurri)

In their place, Matteo Darmian, Cristante, Andrea Cambiaso and Mateo Retegui are expected to start against Croatia.

Cristante is a naturally more protective presence in midfield than the more attack-minded Pellegrini, as is Darmian at left-back instead of Dimarco. Cambiaso, too, offers more defensive solidity than the goal-hungry Frattesi, and Retegui is thought to be a better off-the-ball presser than Scamacca, despite the latter’s form with Atalanta this season.