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Saturday March 22 2014
Cesare must call on Cassano

Antonio Cassano’s form has many clamouring for his inclusion into the World Cup and rightly so, as Lorenzo Vicini explains.

“The World Cup? Nobody has called me yet, but I hope for it.” Fresh off his fantastic performance in Parma’s win over Milan, Antonio Cassano set his sights on this summer and his goal of going to Brazil. For his part, the 31-year-old is in the midst of a superb season for the Ducali and continues to build a case for his inclusion on a weekly basis. But should Cesare Prandelli include the enigmatic striker on his list of players for the Azzurri?

From a simple statistical perspective, Antonio’s numbers this term speak for themselves. He has been the central figure propelling Parma to a sixth place in the table and a current unbeaten streak of 16 matches. He leads the Gialloblu with 11 goals and his tally places him among the top 10 in Serie A, just four goals off leader Carlos Tevez. In fact, his goal total is only three shy of his best ever mark of 14, which he scored for Roma in the 2003-04 season.

It doesn’t just stop with his goal scoring exploits, though. The man they call FantAntonio is also Parma’s leader in assists with five to his name. But it’s another version of the ‘assist’ that makes the striker stand out. The Italian assist, defined as the last pass occurring before a player shoots, is all his. According to statistics provided by Lega Serie A, Cassano is the best assist-man in the League with 54. Miralem Pjanic is second with 51 followed by Andrea Pirlo and Luca Cigarini who are joint-third with 47.   

Beyond the numbers, Cassano is that rare breed of player who can change a game at a moment’s notice, whether it be an intoxicating dribble, exceptional pass or deadly shot. His gifts are innate and his talent second-to-none. A spot on the roster is almost warranted alone by his unique skillset as he is not limited to one specific role on the pitch.

Nevertheless, the argument against Cassano usually follows one of two paths. The first relates to his age but more specifically, his fitness level. Part of the frustration with Cassano throughout his career has been his casual commitment to keeping himself in shape. Prandelli has made mention of the need for ‘athletes’ for the rigors of the World Cup in the Brazilian heat and humidity and that description alone would never accurately describe the Bari native. Yet, he has held up this season and it isn’t unthinkable to see him maintain himself for the extra month of play on the world’s biggest stage.

The second argument always speaks of his ‘troublesome’ character and his infamous ‘Cassanate’. It is often said that his temperamental nature will make him a locker room cancer. Or, he cannot be trusted to control himself. This is such a tired, lazy argument, though. The truth is Antonio Cassano is not the same troubled spirit of five years ago, one who was always a spark away from setting off a powder keg of emotion. He has matured and provided little-to-no drama since his Sampdoria days.

Furthermore, when given the opportunity to play for Italy, Cassano has practically behaved like a saint. And if behaviour is a benchmark, much more temperamental players such as Mario Balotelli and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo must be judged by the same standards. But their inclusion on that basis is hardly contested.

Cassano is worthy of a spot on Italy’s roster. He needn’t be a starter but his inclusion would give Prandelli another weapon in his arsenal. For Cassano, it would be his first and last chance to showcase his genius in the most prestigious tournament in the world. And the world deserves to see it.

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Have your say...
Totti? what? The guy was a great player for Italy and still is for Roma. But only Roma. They nurse him through the games, they dont play as often as Italy will in the World Cup, he has a load of metal in his knee that restricts the amount of games he can play, hence why on bench or subbed often.
He will be slow moving and add Pirlo to the same team thay means no speed in midfield and 1 less tackler.
If he goes, then only as an alternative to Pirlo, so they can rest alternative games.
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 9:35am
Overweight most of his career. loud mouthed to managers and referees. traitor to a team that saved his life on a plane. waisted talent. lost oppurtunities with big teams. swearing at his sampdoria president at a meeting, and getting kicked out of the squad the next day. Dont think he deserves another minute in the Italy shirt.
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 9:25am
Cassano has been amazing this season and should go to the WC. Age doesn't matter, it's a competition, not the league and even if it means bringing him on for portion of the games, I'd rather that than nothing. He has got it all and in the Brazilian heat, passing will be the name of the game. I would take Cassano and Totti. Opposition could probably man mark Pirlo, but they'd have a problem if Totti and Cassano were on the same pitch too.
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 8:59am
Yeah good idea, get Cassano and Balotelli in a room together and see how calm things are. Cassano had his chances but his mouth is bigger than his talent. As for Balotelli, what's he done that makes him so special? Two players that never lived up to potential because their ego won't let them. For me, let them both stay home and bring players that want to play for Italy and not for themselves.
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 6:18am
It's one or the other between Totti and Cassano. If that's the case it has to be Totti. Cassano is not in shape, and can't play a full 90 mins now. How do you expect him to do the same in Brazil and in play again every 3 days.
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 3:05am
cassano def should go to brazil cassano like baggio in 98 france brilliant ... balotelli rossi insigne and destro even luca toni on his form could be a great leave gilo and osvaldo out please !! my concern is the defense a defense once we could always rely on and now we cant..id like to see de rossi and centre back he does it for roma and he will be 100 times better than barzagli and bonucci anyway forza ITALIA !!!!!!!!!!!!
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 2:57am
Cassano yes Totti yes Immobile Balo, yes Rossi yes, Osvaldo Destro yes Cerci yes that's already 8.The problem I have is why has Prandelli not called up players like Cassano and Totti the last 2 years. The chemistry will not be there. Unfortunately Insigne, Giovinco, Diamanti and Florenzi have had bad years and likely won't be there.
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 2:22am
I'm not sure why Football Italia has to write articles like this, you would have to be an idiot not to take him, Im sure Prandelli understands he needs his skills along with Rossi's it's the Asvaldos and Giach's he needs to question along with the Motta's and the Montolivio's, today's hat trick from Immobile's should also get him thinking as he must have him ahead of the insigne's ...then there is Totti and his health ...Lippi last selection has got everyone worried this time around,
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 11:18pm
Good player but would not take him. Only 'old' player (over 30)I would take is maybe Pirlo or Totti. The reality is that Italy will not win this w/c or even get close. The weather and humidity is against them as well as playing every 3-4 days. Take a young team and give them the experience so that we have a chance in 4 years time. i'd take perrin, bardi, immobile,cerci,insigne,berardi,rossi,verrati, cigar ini, candreva, desciglio, bonucci,jorginho, gabbiadini, and who else?
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 8:44pm
Rossi should not be included- hes a risk of injury. Barzagli should not go- old, slow and clumsy.
osvaldo/gilardino should no go- both are beyond words.
Balo should stay home too- id rather score goals than watch him waste chance after chance in open play and watch him actually try to take free kicks over pirlo and Dive around waiting for penalties.
Monolivo needs to stay home- he creates little and is weak!
We need to bring and USE- cassano, deastro, immobile, ogbonna, cigarini! But cp wont!
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 8:12pm
CP wont bring him! He hasnt used him at all in 2-3 years. CP has favourites and unfortunately his favourites are crap! I expect to see gilardino, giaccarini, osvaldo and a whole other host of players that are, in the nicest way possible- crap! He picks a team of 23 and uses the same 14 players- just like in euros. We need to bring cassano, id leave balo and osvaldo at home, id like to see deastro and immobile, who should have been given games over the last 2 years instead of osvaldo and gila!
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 7:56pm
balo and osvaldo will work well with cassano.cassano is very clever with movement when he HASNT got the ball ppl miss this about football hes movement off of the ball causes teams a awful lot of problems hes especially good at running between the CH and FB leaving massive holes for balo and i would say osvaldo because both strikers want to run in behind defenders.pirlo plays to deep but cassano is more than capable of killing defenders with hes passing ability personally hes a must for italy
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 7:08pm
why does Italy contantly ignore their most talented players,like Baggio for example,there is no better player than Cassano,this is a no brainer and for God's sake bring Diamonte also.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 6:17pm
Rocco loving Toni in there!! I would take him also!
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 4:56pm
The only way were going to get the most out of Balotelli is to play him with a play maker. Cassano is a fantastic player and in great form. Id like to see Balotelli and G Rossi up front with Cassano behind them.
Destro or Immobile I think need to go aswell.
We do need a playmaker up front tho, we all know everybody is going to try and take away PIRLO.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 4:55pm
giovino is the worst. Little midget definitely dont bring him. Rossi and Balo for sure.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 4:52pm
Great article especially the assist paragraph where it says Cigarini and Pirlo are tied for assist, the two best italian midfielders, About time Cigarini gets some recognition and he deserves some from Prandelli as well.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 3:31pm
Cassano, Rossi, Balotelli, Totti, Insigne, is by far the best attacking core Prandelli could bring, it would be incredible.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 3:25pm
my 4-3-2-1 for grande azzuuri in brasil :

buffon
maggio - bonucci - chiellini - criscito
de rossi - pirlo - montolivo
diamanti (totti) - cassano
balotelli

azzurri per sempre
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 3:01pm
Forza Cassano, Forza Azzurri!
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 1:52pm
A saint? What of regarding his stand towards homosexual players coming out and Prandelli's foreword, in the region of Euro 2012?
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 1:40pm
I say include him - God knows that Italy will need all the help they can get. I would take the risk of adding Cassano over Balotelli and Osvaldo any day.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 12:33pm
He has to go and start.

My XI 4-2-3-1:

Buffon
Cassani Barzagli Chiellini Antonelli
Pirlo DeRossi
Cerci Totti Cassano
Rossi

Subs: DeSanctis Mirante DeSilvestri Ranocchia Bonucci Cigarini Parolo Marchisio Candreva Florenzi Balotelli Toni
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 12:05pm
The author is correct, people need to stop moaning about cassano's personality. The other players just have to play football with him, not go for a drink with him. Besides balotelli is the real idiot. If he goes anyone should.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 11:41am
I've always said that Cassano is a very good player. There is no better play in Italy then him bar pirlo, possibly Totti. The three of them I think are pivotal. They add magic to the team. No other player does that. Just having pirlo is not enough. The team should have Cassano, Totti and pirlo in it. Cassano was one of the only players giving Spain difficulty because he has skill. If he doesn't go Italy won't get past teams like Spain and Brazil.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 11:39am
Buffon
Chiellini
Barzagli
Bonnuci
De Sciglio
De Rossi
Pirlo
Verrati
Cassano
Rossi
Balotelli

Bench:
Sirigu, Perrin
Ogbonna, Palleta, Santon, Abate
Marchisio, Florenzi, Candreva,
Insigne, Osvaldo, Immobile

One or two I'm not sure about. But we must be able to take the game to the opposition.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 11:34am
I'm hearing that Cassano hasn't been selected since 2012 because he is over 30. If this is true, it's very contradictory. CP continually says how is looking at younger players, but this isn't the reality. Most of his squad is in the late 20's, early 30's bracket. Whilst I like CP, I do find him very inconsistent & hypocritical with the implementation of his policies. Fitness permitting, he has to go. He is so smart/skillful on the ball, & very rarely surrenders possession.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 11:30am
Cassano was fundamental to Italias success at the Euros. If Rossi is not fit for the World Cup, then Cassano should play.
I long to see us play with a trequartista behind Rossi and Balotelli. Insigneand Giovinco are a better bet than Montolivo or Giacherini, but great to Cassano give this role.
Our reliance on an ageing Pirlo means we are often one dimensional and I we need to have several reference points in the team.
on the 22nd March, 2014 at 11:21am

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