ROI Radar: Ireland U21s can inspire hope with Italy win

ROI Radar: Ireland U21s can inspire hope with Italy win

Italy present stern test for u21s

After the disappointment of losing 3-2 in Norway, Jim Crawfordโ€™s under-21s will look to bounce back as they host Italy at Turners Cross tomorrow night.ย 

Ireland and Italy are very well acquainted at U21 level, having been drawn with each other in four of the last five qualifying campaigns.ย 

Of those four qualifying campaigns, Italy unsurprisingly hold a near perfect record against Ireland, having won five times, drawn once and lost none.ย 

Italy come into the game in excellent form after beating San Marino 7-0 last Thursday and have bounced back well since their opening day goalless draw in Latvia.

Talented Italy will test Ireland U21s.

Still yet to concede a goal in the campaign – navigating 2-0 wins in Turkey and at home to Norway – the Azzurri will provide the toughest test to date for Jim Crawford and his team.ย 

The visitors have mainly operated in a narrow 4-3-1-2, with Serie A starters littered across their starting eleven.

Wilfried Gnonto of Leeds United and Sebastiano Esposito of Sampdoria (on loan from Inter Milan) will likely start up front in Cork tomorrow night, providing as formidable a partnership you will see at this level.ย 

But Italy have quality in abundance, with their midfield another area of extreme strength.ย 

Cesare Casadei of Leicester City (on loan from Chelsea) and Cher Ndour of Paris Saint Germain will provide quality and creativity in the Azurriโ€™s midfield, a midfield which will be without Juventus first team regular Fabio Miretti due to injury.


Given the quality and form of this Italian side, Jim Crawford will most likely opt for his familiar 5-3-2 formation.

Crawford has been criticised for his over pragmatic approach in previous campaigns but cannot be faulted for his sideโ€™s performances so far this year.

His gameplan against Norway was close to flawless, with a penalty and a costly error from Bosun Lawal proving the deciding factors in the game.ย 

That means we shouldn’t expect too many changes in terms of personnel, with the manager unlikely to alter an eleven that performed well in Scandinavia.ย 

Josh Keeley, Bosun Lawal, Matt Healy and Sinclair Armstrong provide quality down the spine of this Irish team and will all have to perform exceptionally well if Ireland are to get a result.ย 

Jim Crawford has faced Italy three times as u21 manager, losing all three.

He will be hoping it is lucky number four as his side chase a famous result in Cork tomorrow night.ย