Italy to feature youth vs. US as Mancini sends several regulars home

Roberto Mancini - Inter Milan - gesturing

The youth-oriented US national team will face off against an elite opponent with a similar mindset as they meet Italy in Genk, Belgium on Tuesday for their final match of 2018.

Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini is expected to field a young and relatively untested lineup against the United States, with reports suggesting that he’ll hand debuts to several teenagers, including talented Juventus striker Moise Kean and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo.

Most prominently, 18-year-old Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali – dubbed “the new Andrea Pirlo” by some in the Italian media – is apparently in line for his first senior national-team start despite having yet to appear in Serie A play.

“We are working, trying to renovate the Nazionale with young players and a different tactical approach,” Mancini (pictured above) told RAI after a 0-0 home draw with Portugal in UEFA Nations League play on Saturday, a result which ends Italy’s run in the inaugural edition of that competition as Portugal advance to the tournament’s semifinals.

“We need to get to know them better, to see them in action,” added the veteran coach of his program’s new generation. “Hopefully, many young players will get a chance to feature, as that’ll mean we’ve got a bright future ahead of us. I think there are many talented players out there, they just need to gain some experience.”

Mancini released Lorenzo Pellegrini, Ciro Immobile, Jorginho, Alessandro Florenzi, Lorenzo Insigne and Giorgio Chiellini – all of whom appeared vs. Portugal – from his squad on Sunday. The USMNT and Azzurri are scheduled to clash at Luminus Arena, home of Racing Genk, at 2:45 pm ET on Tuesday (FS1, UniMás, UDN).

Updated Italy roster for US friendly

GOALKEEPERS (3): Alessio Cragno (Cagliari; 0 caps/0 goals), Gianluigi Donnaurumma (AC Milan; 11/0), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino; 18/0)

DEFENDERS (6): Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina; 4/1), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus; 84/6), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus; 36/0), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea/ENG; 1/0), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan; 8/0), Daniele Rugani (Juventus; 7/0)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Nicolò Barella (Cagliari; 3/0), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan; 5/0), Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo; 0/0), Sandro Tonali (Brescia; 0/0), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 28/1)

FORWARDS (6): Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo; 4/0), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina; 10/0), Vincenzo Grifo (Hoffenheim/GER; 0/0), Kevin Lasagna (Udinese; 2/0), Matteo Politano (Inter Milan; 1/0), Leonardo Pavoletti (Cagliari; 0/0)