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Wednesday October 10 2012
Italy squad under the spotlight

Antonio Labbate looks at what we can learn from Cesare Prandelli’s latest Italy squad for their games against Armenia and Denmark. 

Cassano put to one side

Even his best ever start to a Serie A season, in terms of his goals to games ratio, wasn’t enough for Antonio Cassano to be recalled to the squad. There were already suspicions after his omission from the Giro Azzurro post-Euro 2012 that he was no longer in the prime thoughts of Prandelli and the Coach admitted as much on Monday. Although he was eager to underline that the Inter player’s international career is not over, he noted that he wants to focus on younger elements for now. That can only be good news for Juventus’ Sebastian Giovinco.

Form can indeed pay dividends

The tactician’s early pledge that his national side would be one based on meritocracy hasn’t always been strictly imposed. However, he has to be credited for rewarding players such as Andrea Ranocchia, Antonio Candreva, Stephan El Shaarawy and Alberto Gilardino for their fine form in recent weeks. Ranocchia and Candreva should arguably have been called a month ago, while the two strikers – along with Cassano and Rolando Bianchi – have been the most prolific Italians in the top flight so far this term.

Still no true Trequartista

Alessandro Diamanti thinks he’s a Trequartista, Prandelli doesn’t. The CT made that clear after the failed 45-minute experiment of fielding the Bologna man behind two strikers in the 2-0 win over Malta last month. It means that the Coach’s 4-3-1-2 – if that is the system he reverts to – will again contain a false attacking midfielder in the shape of Riccardo Montolivo. And no, Giovinco can’t play in the hole.

Pirlo still his main man

Andrea Pirlo has had his issues this season, so much so that there have been suggestions that he should quit the national side completely. That idea is not one shared by Cesare who has reiterated that he wants the Juventus playmaker to continue orchestrating his side’s play in World Cup 2014. But that depends on whether the opposition will allow him to – a problem that Prandelli really needs to find a solution for.

Why four goalkeepers?

It’s not the hottest topic when discussing Prandelli squads, but the tactician’s insistence to keep on selecting four goalkeepers is puzzling – especially when there are no doubts about first-choice Gigi Buffon. What makes his decision even more questionable is that, even though he’s picking one goalkeeper more than the norm, he can’t find any room for Andrea Consigli of Atalanta or Lazio’s Federico Marchetti. With all due respect to Morgan De Sanctis, what’s the point in continually selecting a 35-year-old over one of the aforementioned two?

No doubts over Destro

Mattia Destro was expected to blossom under the attacking tactics of Zdenek Zeman at Roma, but the boy at the centre of the longest transfer saga of the summer has yet to open his account for his new club. In five appearances, totalling 383 minutes, the former Siena player has yet to ripple the net for La Magica. That goal drought, though, hasn’t been enough to see him demoted back to the Italian Under-21s as they prepare for their crucial European Championship play-off tie against Sweden. Prandelli believes that this kid, who bagged in the 2-0 win over Malta, is the future.

Giaccherini in yet again

Out of all the outfield players selected, Emanuele Giaccherini is arguably the most contentious pick given that he’s not even assured of first team football at Juventus. He’s started just three of his club’s seven Serie A matches and he’s not played a single minute in their Champions League campaign. He could be in the squad not only because of his humble work ethic, but also a shortage of left-sided Italians who are familiar with the 3-5-2 system. Saying that, he’s better in a central midfield three…

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Have your say...
Did anyone watch the U21s vs Sweden? Now that is how to pay football, using a high pressing 4-4-2 they displayed short crisp passing, flair, speed & movement, Prandelli take note... The performance made me think that maybe 4-4-2 isn't dead!

I was massively impressed with Florenzi, Immobile, De Sciglio, De Luca, Marone and Insigne... The future is very bright, Forza Azzurrini
on the 13th October, 2012 at 8:29am
3-4-3 with a midfield diamond. Buffon (Sirigu, Leali); Bonucci-Ogbonna-Chiellini (Barzagli-Ranocchia-Criscito); DeRossi-Pirlo-Marchisio-Verratti (Florenzi-Poli-Montolivo-Insigne); Destro-Balotelli-Giovinco (Rossi-Longo-El Shaarawy) that's the squad for 2014.
on the 12th October, 2012 at 10:36am
Donato13, good point re: Malta at home. That was the game to start with the likes of Verratti, and give Pirlo a breather.

However, do not underestimate Armenia. They have some fine players, and are one of Europe's dark horses right now. I worry about tonight. Italy never do things the easy way, and a performance, like the one against Bulgaria, will see us lose.

Great posts on this forum, kudos to all of you. Enjoy tonight!
on the 12th October, 2012 at 9:42am
@ Onofrio Sanflippo and Donato13 you guys you know football.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 12:15pm
Juventus' invincibles were mostly 3-5-2 last year and didn't lose a game... The reason we lost to Spain was because we decided to play way too open with 4-3-1-2. The bulk of the Juve players (especially back 3 - best in europe last season) are playing for Italy. USE THE 3-5-2!! It gives Pirlo more time and strengthens the MF. BUFFON, BARZAGLI, BONUCCI, CHELLINI, ABATE, MARCHISIO, PIRLO, DE ROSSI, CRISCITO, CASSANO, BALOTELLI. That is the best Italy have to offer right now.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 3:43am
If Prandelli wants to start introducing young talent then this is the time to do it in the qualifiers, so when Italy play teams like Malta and Armenia why start Pirlo, Buffon, Barzagli and De Rossi when you can test our younger plays and give them some experience at the same time. And if your playing four at the back dont start Maggio because he isnt a great defender, dont get me wrong i think hes a great player but as a RWB not a RB, Prandelli needs to start Abate. And give Santon a call up.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 12:57am
Italjuve
on the 11th October, 2012 at 12:42am
de sciglio needs to get integrated into this team. he's gonna be starting left back within 3 years.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 9:56pm
I really don't get it. Why neither Conte or Prandelli play with Fabio Quagliarella.
I believe he is one of the best strikers in Italy.
Was it a mistake from Fabio to play with Juventus ?
Should he transfer to a smaller team like Gilardino did to have a chance in the world cup or its too late ?
on the 10th October, 2012 at 9:24pm
Oh dear it seems Prandelli can’t be right what ever he does. I remember reading many articles in Euro 12 group stages knocking CP & his side. The same writers soon kept quiet after the 1/4's. Let’s look back to every qualifying campaign and August/September is always a dodgy time for the Azzurri but they will qualify. I don’t agree bringing some of the older players (Gilardino) being recalled but back CP on the younger players he is bringing in that may hit the correct age & form in 2014
on the 10th October, 2012 at 9:10pm
everyone, and anyone is replaceable. attackers and defenders at this point for the azzurri are interchangeable. but the azzurri midfield, now, i cant see prandelli ever changing. there are NO adequate replacements for a de rossi, a pirlo and a marchisio. none! this 3 man midfield, as long as these guys can remain healthy and fit, and stay is good form, the azzurri should be fine. the characteristics these 3 possess, makes them, simply irreplaceable! and...prandelli knows that.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 5:44pm
Again I ask what have Osvaldo and Destro done to deserve a call-up. With Gilardino we now have three lumbering slow statues up front. Has Giovinco really been that great this year except for some spurts? Why is Italy the only country that uses untested players and keeps their stars at home.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 5:34pm
"Mr. Prandelli wants to focus on younger elements for now.?."what crap talking is this? are we all blind? talking young means your team are young. this how it should be done: get rid of pirlo, buffon, or cassano if it has to. get the future young players into the team now as the still has a lot of time to grow. look how the spanish did with their national team. iker casillas was their NO#1 when he was still a kid! or CRonaldo was already the captain of his national team when he still a virgin!
on the 10th October, 2012 at 5:31pm
Maggio is consistantly good in Napoli and very important for his team's tactics. His speed and grit suit the national team just fine as well.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 2:36pm
Prandelli needs the midfield of Pirlo, Cigarini, De Rossi, Marchisio, Verratti, and Nocerino, thats a midfield who will carve-up alot of good defenses and open up the space for his young strikers to score. its not the strikers its the dictation of the midfield is why were are lacking goals. stop with these running midfielders who u think will score and and create space with passing in the middle. Ciga snub is ridiculous best player on Atalanta he will be full time after a january move to milan.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 2:31pm
pretty attractive starting 11, Sanfilippo
on the 10th October, 2012 at 12:28pm
We need to all get behind the team. There is no greater honour than to wear the blue shirt. We all love Italy. I dont like criticising Prandelli but its very hard not to at the moment. We can all see the mistakes in terms of tactics and selection so why cant he?
on the 10th October, 2012 at 12:11pm
I pray I am proved wrong but I think we will struggle in both games. If Prandelli had called the right players then we would be fine. Its a mistake if Prandelli starts with Giovinco in Armenia. We need goals and 2 good performances. I think Armenia away will be harder than Denmark at home. If we arent clinical in these games then it will cost us. We need 6 points. If Prandelli calls players on form then where is Cassano, Di Natale and Quagliarella. They all guarantee goals and are clinical.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 12:06pm
The article is spot on although I am surprised to hear Marchetti mentioned, have we forgotten world cup 2010, again he makes too many mistakes. If I was prandelli and I was taking 4 goalkeepers, I'd have Buffon, Consigli, Viviano and Leali ( it would be great for him to gain experience of been around the squad as he is a future number 1). Prandelli should have called Roncaglia for Ogbonna. I agree Prandelli needs an effective solution when Pirlo isnt allowed by the opposition to dictate play.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 11:59am
Starting XI I'd like to see against Armenia if he goes with a 4-3-1-2

Buffon

Abate Barzagli Chiellini Criscito

De Rossi Pirlo Marchisio

Verratti

Osvaldo Balotelli

If the formation is not working then Giovinco for Verratti and change to a 4-3-3. Or if Pirlo is tiring, Giovinco for Pirlo with Verratti dropping deeper into midfield.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 11:54am
Great article and spot-on, especially regarding the 4 keepers. SES, Giovinco, Diamanti, & Insigne are better suited as wide forwards, (in a 433), or 2nd strikers. If Prandelli persists with the 4312, I would like to see Verratti play in the hole-he could be Italy's Riquelme. His composure, passing, vision, and skills can give Italy more creativity in the final 3rd, take some of the creative burden off Pirlo, & make Italy less predictable.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 11:10am
I agree with Antonio's stance on the keepers - Troppo strano?

Good to see Ranocchia back (potentially the new Nesta) & Criscito but it would have been good to call up Roncaglia for the injured Ogbonna to see what he has to offer.

I've no doubt that Insigne would have been inc if it wasn't for the U21 playoff, it's obvious that Prandelli see's him as Cassano's replacement. Personally I would like to see Marrone replace Giaccherini in the near future too.

Finally thought... Santon for Maggio
on the 10th October, 2012 at 10:55am
You talked about giaccherini, but not maggio?? Wow.. you must be blind, or a neapolitan. De sciglio should be picked instead of him.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 10:19am
Candreva, about time cant believe someone said to me they didnt know who he was a while back! fool,
on the 10th October, 2012 at 10:09am
100% true. To add Giacc have been terrible with Juve also. His call doesn't make any sense. With regards to the trequartista. El Shaarawy is the best man currently for the job.
on the 10th October, 2012 at 10:08am

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