Oh Italy, will you never shake off your summertime blues? Are we ever to see a performance in August or September that isn’t desperately disappointing, disconcertingly sluggish and half-hearted in its execution? Probably not, so let’s just accept that little quirk of the Azzurri experience and grab the point in Bulgaria.
In a way, this game saw all the Nazionale’s worst traits squeezed into a single game. Players put more energy into berating each other than actually trying to get the ball in the first place, tactical indecision was rife whether using 3-5-2 or the diamond midfield, chances were wasted in attack and Christian Maggio confirmed his complete inability to defend.
The ultimate problem remains the same as it is in every August or September outing: tempo. Serie A starts later than other Leagues and they have at most two games under their belts before beginning a qualifying campaign, but still that total lack of drive is inexcusable. What does Prandelli have to do in order to shake these players up? He tried picking younger figures who want to prove themselves like Sebastian Giovinco, Emanuele Giaccherini and Angelo Ogbonna, but even they struggled to get out of second gear in Sofia. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo scored a brace, though the second goal was via a massive deflection.
Prandelli also crammed his faults into this nutshell of a match. Once again, the Azzurri had to end the game with 10 men after Daniele De Rossi limped off with a thigh strain. Was the Euro 2012 Final not enough of a clue that you shouldn’t blow all your substitutions early? Italy were winning at the time when he made the changes, so considering the Bulgarians equalised moments after a switch from 3-5-2 to diamond system, Cesare might want to avoid excessive tinkering in future.
After all, the only benefit of being predictably poor in the summer is at least trying to learn from those recurring mistakes.