Leonardo Bonucci promises that Italy is ‘not a pick but a real squad’ and agrees that Virgil van Dijk and Giorgio Chiellini are ‘two of the world’s best five defenders.’

The Nations League match with the Netherlands kicks off at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) in Amsterdam on Monday.

The Azzurri opened their draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina with a 1-1 draw while Holland defeated Poland 1-0.

“We’ve been away for 10 months, so that made things tough and it was only normal that we will struggle a little, but we’ve been talking constantly during the three months of the lockdown to make sure we know that we are a good squad that wants to be as united as we were during the Euro 2020 qualifiers,” Bonucci said in his press conference.

“It isn’t just an international player pick, it’s a real squad. After we failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, thanks also to the young players and the coach’s work we rediscovered our passion.

Italy saw their streak of 11 consecutive victories end with the 1-1 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina and looked rusty in the match on Friday evening.

“The League of Nations is significant competition and the opening draw makes our search for the top spot more difficult, but that’s how we began last year as well and were still very close to reaching the final stage.”

In addition to Inter defender Stefan de Vrij, Bonucci’s Juventus teammate Matthijs de Ligt is out injured.

“We are blessed to see two of the world’s best defenders face-off, including Giorgio Chiellini and Virgil van Dijk, who I’d say are two of the top five.

“In the Premier League and on an international assignment, Van Dijk showed that he merits the Ballon d’Or while Giorgio has been the best for 15 years.

“The Dutch have a different way to protect themselves from the Italians, they are more physical, while we are more concentrated on the tactics.”


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