Time for Domenico Berardi to Shine at Italy

Domenico Berardi scored a beautiful goal when Italy beat Northern Ireland, last Friday. Antonio Florenzi sends a pass to the left of the penalty box. Berardi chased him and immediately approached the goal. The Northern Ireland defender closed the pass to the middle, while the goalkeeper faced the side to block the striker’s shot.

Berardi also showed his genius. From a tight angle, the Sassuolo striker beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell. He shot with the inner leg. The ball bounced over the goalkeeper’s left shoulder. 1-0 for Italy. Roberto Mancini’s men then won the match 2-0.

The goal perfectly shows the great talent of the 26-year-old striker. As a right striker, Berardi is fond of terrorizing the defense and swiftly stabbing inside. His left foot was capable of sending a shot aimed which tricked the goalkeeper.

Berardi himself has always scored goals in Italy’s last three matches. He became the first player to do so in the Mancini era. Berardi’s talent has been a hot topic of conversation in Italy for a long time. What is somewhat surprising is his persistence in defending I Neroverdi who is struggling in the middle of Serie A. Perhaps, what is more surprising than that is the fact that he got a “late” debut with Gli Azzurri.

Despite being 26 years old, Berardi has only received 10 caps for the Italian national team. He also only made his debut in 2018 when he was 24. In fact, when Italy was coached by Giampiero Ventura in 2017, Berardi had already made his debut. But he played for the unofficial friendly against San Marino. The action is insignificant and does not affect anything. Gianluca Lapadula, who at that time got his debut with Berardi, even failed to strengthen Gli Azzuri and later defended the Peru national team.

Berardi introduced himself as a wonderkid since bringing his team promotion from Serie B. In his first Serie A season, Berardi shone brightly by packing 16 goals and six assists. When he faced AC Milan in 2013/14, he appeared phenomenal and bought up four goals.

Serie A champions, Juventus moved quickly to approach Berardi when he was still a teenager. In 2013, the Bianconeri bought half co-ownership of the player. His progress at Juventus seemed to have become a necessity for him.

However, Juventus then sold half of its ownership to Sassuolo in 2015. Berardi is still linked with big Italian clubs like Inter Milan, as well as moves to top clubs outside his country such as Arsenal and Barcelona. However, it seems that he is comfortable in Sassuolo.

At club level, there are reasons for comfort that make him feel at home not moving. But at the national team level, Berardi suffered. Antonio Conte and Giampiero Ventura kept him sidelined.

At the end of the Cesare Prandelli era, many complained about the lack of quality strikers in the Italian national team. People found Graziano Pelle and Eder filling posts that used to be occupied by Luca Toni, Filippo Inzaghi, to Christian Vieri. Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, and Manolo Gabbiadini also failed to live up to Italian expectations. Although this is not a big problem in the Conte era, it seems strange that the striker’s crisis did not make Gli Azzurri try Berardi.

Conte’s reluctance to call Berardi was more for tactical reasons. The former Juventus coach relies on the 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 grip on the national team. Berardi is a winger, not the center striker Conte needs. Given his impressive contributions at club level, the reluctance to try them out in Conte’s system is surprising. Berardi scored 15 goals and 11 assists in Serie A 2014/15. But Conte didn’t call him up for Euro qualification at all. Berardi was originally called up once during the Conte era. Unfortunately, at that time he got injured.

Conte’s replacement, Giampiero Ventura, also did not call Berardi for tactical reasons. Like its predecessor, Ventura has no room for wing attackers. But he was also reluctant to try to adapt Berardi. In fact, wingers like Lorenzo Insigne, Stephan El Sharaawy and Federico Bernadeschi are able to adapt to their system.

“He [Berardi] is getting more mature and incised impressive statistics. I will take the opportunity to reinforce my ideas to this player. “Later, he was not called up for tactical reasons and our lack of time to make changes in that part [tactics],” said Ventura as quoted by FourFourTwo in 2016 ago.

“We are talking about the best Italian talent around here and we will wait for him. In the future, we will change the way we play and he will get a call, “he continued. Ventura’s words really happened. However, he didn’t do it. He was fired after failing to bring Gli Azzurri to the 2018 World Cup. The replacement for Ventura, Roberto Mancini was the one who changed the way Italy played and called Berardi.

The player himself must be patient before getting a place in Mancini’s squad. When qualifying for Euro, the former Manchester City coach, prefers Bernadeschi. Berardi made his debut in 2018 and has only been regularly involved in the last three international breaks.

Last year, Mancini was in no hurry to wait for his contribution. According to him, Berardi still has time to develop and become an elite European attacker. “Berardi, with the abilities he has, should have become a star. But he is still young, 25 years old [now 26], he can still develop far, “said Mancini in 2019.

So far, despite having experienced a decline in performance in 2015-2019, he doesn’t deserve to be called playing badly. His number of goals was indeed less than 10 in 2015 / 16-2018 / 19. But the number of goals involved (goals plus assists) is always above 10. Together with Gregoire Defrel and Francesco Caputo, Berardi has been a vital figure in Sassuolo’s attack in recent seasons.

Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi said Berardi was underestimated throughout his career. The 41-year-old tactician insisted that the player had not received the appropriate quality appreciation. “He, like many things at Sassuolo, was too underestimated,” he was quoted as saying by the Italian Football.

Now, Mancini has put him in the main 11 in the last two games. The 2022 World Cup qualification may also be the stage for Domenico Berardi. After being sidelined for a long time, now is the time for him to shine at the Gli Azzurri.


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