Three takeaways from Italy 4-0 Malta: Bonaventura is ageing like a fine wine, Berardi finishes with aplomb

The Italy Men's National Team defeated Malta in the 2024 European Championship qualifiers with Giacomo Bonaventura and Domenico Berardi producing fine performances on the night.


The Italy Men’s National Team earned themselves a relatively comfortable victory against Malta, defeating the Maltese 4-0 in their Group C match for 2024 European Championship qualification, and impressive performances from Giacomo Bonaventura and Domenico Berardi laid the foundations for the win.

In wake of the latest betting scandal, which forced Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo to withdraw from the Azzurri squad, the Italians were able to produce a dominant performance without them and they secured the victory, putting them just three points behind England, who they face at Wembley on Tuesday evening.

Italy Men’s National Team midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura gets a shot off. (@azzurri)

Bonaventura reaps rewards from career revival

When Bonaventura’s contract with AC Milan expired in the summer of 2020, it seemed that the midfield was going to experience a downward trajectory in his career. He was with the Rossoneri for six seasons, but he suffered his share of injury woes in the last few years in Milan.

Although he showed moments of quality at Fiorentina early on, he has become an important player for Vincenzo Italiano, who is now in charge for his third season with the Gigliati. The Tuscans are equal third with Juventus in Serie A with 17 points, and Bonaventura has played his part, scoring four goals and supplying two assists.

This form evidently impressed Spalletti, who did not hesitate to place the Marche native in the Italy starting line-up. The 34-year-old opened the scoring after some persistent work from Moise Kean. He then collected the ball, turned around, and after a couple of steps, he smashed the ball into the far corner.

After 15 caps without an international goal, Bonaventura became the oldest player to score his first goal for the Azzurri at 34 years and 53 days. Jack made other valuables contributions too, completing the most dribbles of the game with three, produced a successful passing rate of 86%, and he made eight recoveries.

With the likes of Jorginho and Marco Verratti out of the frame for now, the Indian Summer of Bonaventura’s career has been a welcome addition for Spalletti and Italy.

Domenico Berardi celebrates scoring for the Italy Men’s National Team. (@Azzurri)

Berardi doing Berardi things for Italy

For those who have followed Sassuolo over the years, they know that Domenico Berardi is capable of producing some fabulous strikes, and the 29-year-old was able to bring that form to the Italy squad.

He scored his first goal of the game a minute into injury time prior to the half-time break. After receiving the ball on the right wing, he played a one-two with Nicolo Barella, and curled a shot around Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello. The Neroverdi winger earned his brace in the second half after Giacomo Raspadori dribbled into the box, Kean struggled to control the ball cleanly, only for the loose ball to be left for Berardi to score with his right foot.

The 29-year-old now has eight goals in 26 matches for Italy. Considering that Federico Chiesa is not fully fit and Zaniolo had to withdraw from the squad, the Azzurri arguably need an in-form Berardi more than ever.

Italy squad shrug off betting scandal for now

Spalletti had selected Newcastle United midfielder Tonali and Aston Villa forward Zaniolo for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and England, only for them to drop out due to their alleged involvement in illegal gambling.

Tonali displayed his ability to distribute the ball and provide energetic running in previous games whilst Zaniolo has occasionally shown that he can produce something out of nothing. Although Malta was not the strongest opponent Italy was going to face by any stretch of the imagination, it was important to gain a boost in confidence, and the likes of Bonaventura and Berardi admirably filled the void left by the two omitted players.

With a crucial qualifier against England next, it was important for the Azzurri to win well, and not let any controversy affect the way Spalletti coaches or how those players available to him play their game.


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