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FIFA U-20 World Cup

Plizzari thriving in spotlight for Italy

(FIFA.com)
Alessandro Plizzari of Italy grabs the ball 
© Getty Images
  • Alessandro Plizzari has been instrumental for Italy in Poland
  • Voted top goalkeeper at last year’s European Championship
  • “Very agile, quick to react and powerful”

Victorious in their first two matches, Italy have already made sure of their ticket to the last 16 at Poland 2019, which means they will be under no pressure when they take on Japan in their final group match this Wednesday (18:00 local time). A big factor in that happy state of affairs for the Italians is the form of their goalkeeper, Alessandro Plizzari.

The Italians largely dominated their opening match against Mexico but had to wait before their superiority was reflected on the scoreboard, which left them vulnerable to the slightest mistake. It transpired when Plizzari and Gianluca Scamacca got their wires crossed at a corner to gift El Tri an equaliser.

The Plizzari fact file

  • Name: Alessandro Plizzari
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Club: AC Milan
  • Date of birth: 12 March 2000
  • Place of birth: Crema, Italy
  • Height: (1.93m)

Yet on the few other occasions that the Mexicans conjured up an opportunity, the Italian keeper stood tall. “That’s what comes with being a goalkeeper and that’s why it appeals so much,” the AC Milan player told FIFA.com. “It’s my job to stay focused when the team is on top and to be ready to do what I have to do in a fraction of a second.”

The match against Ecuador was a different story altogether, with the South Americans causing the European runners-up problems at the back time and again, all of which gave Plizzari the chance to show what he can do. In repelling everything the Ecuadorians had to throw at him, he pulled off a superb stop from a penalty kick.

A proven match-winner

The young Italian, who lists Jan Oblak and Gianluigi Buffon among his role models, reminded everyone why UEFA named him goalkeeper of the tournament at the 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championship. An understudy at the last U-20 World Cup, Plizzari was finally handed a start in the match for third place against Uruguay, making two saves in the penalty shootout, which Italy won.

Italian pedigree

Since then the Milan Academy product has continued to excel on the international stage, helping to cement Italy’s reputation for rearing talented young keepers. He is also climbing the first-team ranks at Milan, where his friend Gianluigi Donnarumma, one year his senior, currently wears the No1 jersey.

Matteo Mareggini, who has been Italy’s youth goalkeeping coach since 2011, was suitably impressed by Plizzari’s performances in the qualifying campaign for Poland 2019: “Alessandro showed all his talent. He’s very agile, quick to react and powerful too.

“Technically he’s very gifted and he’s every bit at ease on his line as he is coming off it,” added the former Fiorentina keeper in conversation with FIFA.com. “He just needs to project his character more on the pitch and you can only do that with experience.”

The kind of experience that comes with a successful U-20 World Cup, for example.

VIDEO

Watch how players are put through their paces at the Milan Academy, where Alessandro Plizzari learned his trade.

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