Five Things to Know About the Italy MNT

Presented by Thorne
By: Jeff Crandall

The U.S. Men’s National Team will bring the curtain down on 2018 when it takes on four-time World Cup champions Italy on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Luminus Arena in Genk, Belgium (2:45 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMas). Here are five things to know about the Azzurri:


An early power in world football, Italy’s first success came when it won the bronze medal at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. One of many European nations that skipped the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay, the Azzurri went on to win the next two editions, lifting the trophy on home soil in 1934 before repeating in France four years later.

After failing to advance from the group stage again until 1970, a runner-up finish in Mexico began another successful era for the National Team, finishing fourth eight years later in Argentina before Paolo Rossi and his six goals led the Azzurri back to the World Cup title in 1982.

Finishing third when they hosted the World Cup again in 1990, Italy then memorably fell again four years later to Brazil, this time on penalty kicks in the 1994 Final played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Playing on German soil 12 years later, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Totti -  among many others - helped Italy gain its fourth World Cup title as they saw off France on penalties. 

Italy and Germany’s four World Cup titles are second-most worldwide behind only Brazil, which has five.


Despite a historic international pedigree, Italy finds itself in a rebuilding phase after failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, missing out for the first time since 1958. The Azzurri advanced in second place from their UEFA qualifying group but fell 1-0 on aggregate in its two-game playoff with Sweden.

In the wake of that disappointment, caretaker Italian manager Luigi di Biagio and now current head coach Roberto Mancini began picking up the pieces for the Azzurri, beginning the process of bringing through the next generation of players. Italy has produced a mixed record since then, but  has held their own in the UEFA Nations League, securing at least the top spot in League A thanks to a win and draw against Poland.


Following Italy's 0-0 draw with Portugal in Saturday's UEFA Nations League match, manager Roberto Mancini made a few changes to his squad. In total, 22 players will be part of the Italy roster to face the USA on Tuesday. 

MNT winger Tim Weah will hope to lineup against his PSG teammate Marco Verratti during Tuesday’s match in Belgium.

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

DEFENDERS (7): Francesco Acerbi (Lazio; 2/0), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina; 4/1), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus; 84/6), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus; 36/0), Gianluca Manchini (Atalanta; 0/0), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea/ENG; 1/0), Daniele Rugani (Juventus; 7/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Nicolò Barella (Cagliari; 3/0), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan; 5/0), Vincenzo Grifo (Hoffenheim/GER; 0/0), 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),  Moise Kean (Juventus; 0/0), Kevin Lasagna (Udinese; 2/0), Leonardo Pavoletti (Cagliari; 0/0), Matteo Politano (Inter Milan; 1/0)


The sides have met 11 times with Italy holding a healthy 1-7-3 advantage against the USA. Interestingly, seven of the 11 meetings have come in competitive matches, beginning with the first, a 7-1 defeat at the start of Italy’s run to lift the 1934 FIFA World Cup on home soil.

The teams have met twice more at the FIFA World Cup, with the USA narrowly falling 1-0 to the Azzurri in the group stage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup, also in Rome. In 2006, the USA finished with nine men and still earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the group stage, becoming one of only two teams not to register a loss to the Italians in their successful run to the 2006 FIFA World Cup title.

The USA’s lone win in the series came in their most recent meeting. Clint Dempsey’s 54th minute strike lifted the MNT to an historic 1-0 victory on Feb. 29, 2012, in Genoa.


USA goals against Italy have been hard to come by, with the MNT registering only five in 11

all-time meetings, and one of those was an own goal. MNT players will hope to join an exclusive list of players to have found the back of the net against the Azzurri on Tuesday:

MNT Players to Score vs. Italy






Aldo “Buff” Donelli

May 27, 1934

1-7 L

1934 FIFA World Cup

Rome, Italy

John Harkes

June 6, 1992

1-1 D


Chicago, Ill.

Landon Donovan

June 15, 2009

1-3 L

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

Pretoria, South Africa

Clint Dempsey

Feb. 29, 2012

1-0 W


Genoa, Italy

*The USA goal in the 2006 FIFA World Cup was credited as an own goal