Match Time：11/16/2020 03:45 Monday (GMT+8)
Unbeaten Italy - who have not lost an international game since 2018 - host Poland at Sassuolo's Mapei Stadium on Monday as the UEFA Nations League continues. The reverse fixture ended in a goalless stalemate - one of three draws which leave the Azzurri adrift of this week's opponents in League A Group 1, who are on a five-game unbeaten run of their own.
Italy take on what is sure to be a stiff test of their resolve without coach Roberto Mancini - who is self-isolating - and several players unable to make the journey to Reggio Emilia due to restrictions in place to combat the current situation on the peninsula.Mancini had called up 41 players to his initial squad, but just 19 reported in the first instance, as players from Inter Milan, Lazio, Roma, Sassuolo and Fiorentina were prevented from travelling by their respective local health authorities.A patched-up side full of debutants and second-choice players took on lowly Estonia during the week, as Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina, Monaco's Pietro Pellegri and Davide Calabria of Milan all made their senior debuts in the second half.Freiburg forward Vincenzo Grifo registered his first international strikes, while exciting Bologna winger Riccardo Orsolini scored his second goal in two senior appearances, all of which helped the Azzurri to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games - but their truest test this month is surely yet to come against Poland.Even if the current crowded schedule might diminish their desire, there are some serious incentives to claim maximum points for a squad overseen by Mancini's assistant Alberigo Evani.Italy will be guaranteed top-seed status in the 2022 World Cup qualifying draw if they take two points from their games with Poland and Bosnia - and if they progress from a tightly-contested group, the semi-finals and final will be played out at San Siro and Turin's Allianz Stadium.The chief threat to such progress, of course, will be Poland's superstar striker Robert Lewandowski. Though the Azzurri managed to muzzle the Bayern Munich forward last month, the Golden Boot winner has been typically irrepressible in Bundesliga action of late.Lewandowski, who has 63 goals in 114 appearances (both national records), is the figurehead of an improving team and the president of the Polish FA - one-time Juventus and Roma forward Zbigniew Boniek - has claimed that his "relaxed" squad are confident of coming home with a positive result.Poland have picked up seven points from four games and sit top of League A Group 1 with two games remaining - though all seven of those points did come at home. Most recently, a 3-0 Nations League win over Bosnia & Herzegovina last month and 2-0 defeat of neighbours Ukraine in friendly action this week have put Jerzy Brzeczek's side in buoyant mood.The 1992 Olympic silver medal-winning coach has been briefed with blooding several young players in the Nations League as the Eagles set out to rebuild after a poor debut in the competition two years ago. Since, they have secured qualification for Euro 2020 and Brzeczek has fought off lingering questions over his tenure.Sunday evening will provide the greatest challenge of Poland's upswing yet, but in their three most recent attempts Italy have overturned the Poles just once - drawing the other two - and scored only two goals.Poland's overall competitive record against Italy (W1 D7 L4) is not impressive however, with their lone win coming as far back as the group stage of the 1974 World Cup.Another win this week, albeit in very different circumstances, would again represent one of the most prized results in the nation's football history.
Italy Nations League form: DDWD
Italy form (all competitions): DWWDDW
Poland Nations League form: WDWL
Poland form (all competitions): LWWDWW
Italy's coach Roberto Mancini, operating from afar, has Giorgio Chiellini out of action through injury, in addition to fellow centre-backs Alessio Romagnoli and Angelo Ogbonna. The latter pair were replaced on Monday by Inter's Alessandro Bastoni and Sassuolo's Gian Marco Ferrari.After absence in the friendly versus Estonia, regulars Jorginho, Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne and Leonardo Bonucci are all expected to return to the fray.However, Vincenzo Grifo returns to Freiburg after bagging a brace on Wednesday and Moise Kean has left the squad to return to Paris Saint-Germain HQ with a muscle injury.Poland have a more or less fully fit squad available for Sunday's encounter and coach Jerzy Brzeczek includes star man Robert Lewandowski after the 32-year-old was rested in midweek.Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik is more likely to start on the bench, with club teammate Piotr Zielinski being part of the three in support of their captain up front.
Italy possible starting lineup: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Acerbi, Palmieri; Jorginho, Barella, Gagliardini; Bernardeschi, Belotti, Insigne
Poland possible starting lineup: Szczesny; Kedziora, Glik, Walukiewicz, Reca; Krychowiak, Klich; Jozwiak, Zielinski, Grosicki; Lewandowski
Italy VS Poland
Italy 1-0 Poland