Roberto Mancini Italy

Roberto Mancini does not believe his “unlucky” Italy side could have done much more to improve their underwhelming form in front of goal.

The Azzurri have scored just three goals in five games this season and failed to reach the Nations League final stages, with Portugal guaranteed to top their group after a goalless draw between the two teams.

But while Mancini is concerned by this profligacy, he claims Italy have simply been unfortunate in recent matches.

Speaking in a news conference he said: “Of course it is a problem, because if you do not score, you do not win, but between the games against Ukraine, Poland and Portugal, we have created 20 chances.

“Against Portugal, for example, the goalkeeper made great saves. There is not much more we can do to score, except throw it in! I think it was a matter of being unlucky.

“It will turn sooner or later. The important thing is that we continue to create and play well in attack.”

Italy’s inability to score has seen them lag two points behind Portugal in their UEFA Nations League qualifying group having played one game more than Fernando Santos’ side. Portugal face Poland on Tuesday evening in a game that represents something of a dead rubber.

The disappointment of not reaching the latter stages of UEFA’s inaugural tournament comes in the wake of failing to make a first World Cup finals in 60 years under the guidance of Gian Piero Ventura earlier this year.

Mancini was drafted in as Ventura’s replacement and has lost just twice since his appointment, including once to World Champions France, but has also seen his side register just two victories in eight attempts.

An inability to take chances has led to a series of underwhelming results, but despite these issues, Mancini is content he has now settled on a system with Italy and will look to line up with a similar side again against United States on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the friendly in Belgium he said: “If those who played on Saturday are fine, they could all play again. We will evaluate who will replace the players who have returned home.

“We waited a while to have all the players who were injured in the first matches, players who fitted my plans, like [Marco] Verratti for example.”

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