Italy are European champions and have a long unbeaten streak, but they should be even better by the time of the 2022 World Cup, according to former striker Gianfranco Zola.
The Azzurri transformed under Roberto Mancini after losing the qualification for the previous finals in Russia.
Mancini’s men won the Euro 2020 final against England on penalties and are now undefeated in 34 games, the longest streak in the team’s history.
However, Zola – who made 35 appearances and scored 10 goals between 1991 and 1997 – sees an even brighter future for Italian football.
Despite 34-year-old Leonardo Bonucci (the oldest scorer in the history of the European finals) and 36-year-old captain Giorgio Chiellini (the third oldest player in the history of the finals), Italy has named only the 12th oldest team at the tournament.
“Getting into Mancini’s shoes and giving him suggestions on how to improve this team is out of the question and risky,” Chelsea great Zola told Stats Perform.
As it stands, this team will be even more competitive in the World Cup.
“They will grow in confidence and improve even more because most of the players are young. For me, they will go to an even higher level. “
An already impressive blue midfield could also be strengthened by the return from injury of Nicolò Zaniolo, the 22-year-old who hasn’t played since he injured the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee in action against the Netherlands in September 2020.
It is the Romanista’s second cruciate ligament tear in eight months – after suffering the same right knee injury – and has controlled the course of a promising career.
In 69 appearances for Roma, Zaniolo scored 14 goals and scored six assists in 55 chances created. He also scored two goals in seven appearances for the senior national team internationally.
“Then [in 2022] there will be players like Zaniolo, “added Zola.” If his injuries [have been] absorbed, he will be an important player to make the necessary contribution to further improve this team
“And for me other young people will shine, because the long wave of enthusiasm given by this trophy will bring up many young people.
Italy will be competitive in the World Cup, no indications are needed for Mancini “.
But Zola also anticipates another challenge from England’s beaten Euro 2020 opponents, who have reached their first major tournament final in 55 years.
The average age of the formation of the Three Lions for the final (26y 328d) is almost two years lower than the Italian one (28y 272d) and they also have room for growth.
“They are an extremely young and talented team,” said Zola. “England can only grow and this defeat will not be a problem.
“England, like Italy and Spain, boasts many guys with a lot of room for improvement. Let’s not forget that England have often kept out players like [Jadon] Sancho, [Marcus] Rashford and [Phil] Foden which are very important.
“I would be surprised if England weren’t a team to beat in Qatar. They have a bright future. “