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Friday April 11 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Cassano

Long considered the most naturally gifted Italian forward since Roberto Baggio, Mark Siglioccolo asks if Antonio Cassano can lead Italy at the World Cup.

Bari born Antonio Cassano has had one of the most nomadic and trouble hit careers of any player in recent memory. His temperament has seen him switch clubs far too frequently whilst clashing with almost every Coach he has played for. Fabio Capello twice attempted to tame the fiery front man, first at Roma and then Real Madrid, before Cassano played the petulant child card and moved to pastures new.

Now at Parma, and after countless second chances, the 31-year-old finally appears to be proving his doubters wrong. Whilst other forwards tend to be passed their best into their fourth decade, Fantantonio is now arguably in the form of his life.

The Gialloblu have been one of the success stories of the season in no small part thanks to the exploits of Cassano. This is the most prolific he has been in front of goal in five seasons and should Parma finish fifth and achieve Europa League qualification this term, Cassano's 11 League strikes and five assists thus far will have something to do with it. Let us not forget, he suffered a minor stroke just under three years ago.

Despite his obvious talent, failure to settle at one club for a considerable length of time has seriously stunted his international career. For a player of his quality, just 35 appearances since his debut 11 years ago is akin to buying a Ferrari and only opening up the garage once in a while to flaunt it to your friends. World Cup wining Coach Marcello Lippi was clearly not a fan, and having missed out on his chance of glory in 2006, it was current Parma boss Roberto Donadoni who brought Cassano back into the fold after two years in the Nazionale wilderness.

Cesare Prandelli brought him back following another two year exile to the highly successful Euro 2012 campaign, in which the forward scored on Italy's path to the final. With Andrea Pirlo's prowess so highly publicised, Prandelli needs a plan B to unlock their opponents defences, and Cassano may just be it.

There are parallels between the career paths of Cassano and Roberto Baggio. Talented, one-off and nomadic characters, often thought of for what could have been more than what was at club level. Yet Baggio had a shot at redemption on the biggest stage of them all, and took it. This is Cassano's chance, and the boy who never grew up finally appears to have reached an emotional maturity to be able to lead the line in Brazil.

With Giuseppe Rossi's fitness in doubt and Francesco Totti unlikely to be considered, Cassano's form should not be ignored. He may be in direct competition with Lorenzo Insigne, but experience should give Cassano an edge. It is time that the boy became a man.

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Have your say...
I've been an admirer of Cassano since his Roma days a decade ago. He is technically extremely gifted, and tends to perform on big occasions. I still remember his goals at the Euro 2004, as well as his tears. His antics are good fun, though exasperating to coaches.

He should definitely go to the World Cup, given his habit of playing well in big games. Whether Cassano's role should be central or marginal is up to Prandelli.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 11:30pm
Would you believe it...Toni scored 16 goals....and not good enough to be in the list of 42 players,,,shocking,,,aquilani??,really??? I can smell ..Lippis disaster in 2010'mm why do managers always pick their best mates??why?? Come on people how in gods name is Gilardino better,,,than Toni??? ,,,I know he isn't,,,any brave people out there going to agree?? Or is Prandelli above criticism??????????!!! Angry now!!!!
on the 11th April, 2014 at 8:44pm
I hope to see Cassano playing @ Fulham FC for the Italy vs. Ireland on 31st May.

Forza Azzurri
on the 11th April, 2014 at 8:21pm
the main reason he got tired in the last tournament was mainly down to the fact he had a mini stroke the prior year in november, it took a lot out f him. in my opinion when fit he is the best option alongside balotelli
on the 11th April, 2014 at 7:33pm
Cassano's chance is very slim. I do not think his fitness level allows him to play in the Amazon humidity. Rossi's fitness level is also makes him big doubt. If Prandelli selects only five strikers then Balo,Cerci,Destro,Immobile & Insigne should be in. Both Cassano & Rossi might have a slim chance if they can prove their fitness levels in the coming week. But Italy doesn't need Osvaldo or Gilardino. Gila is favored by CP but it is interesting to see who is going to be dropped out to include him
on the 11th April, 2014 at 6:33pm
Yes he was good enough to lead the azzurri final in euro 2012. He cannot do it alone he will need Rossi and Totti and Immobile. imagine he can now hit Balo or Immobile the opposing defence will have issues. As for fitness that is why we need Totti these 2 can alternate
on the 11th April, 2014 at 5:30pm
osvaldo should be nowehere near this squad, he's slow, clumsy on the ball and has poor movement. the five forwards i would take would be

balotelli
cassano
rossi (destro if rossi not fit)
immobile
cerci
on the 11th April, 2014 at 5:17pm
As much as i hate cassano I have to admit that he is a no brainer for the national side this guy has got everything italy need and more. His combo play with g rossi is simple amazing almost like his totti partnership at roma
on the 11th April, 2014 at 4:30pm
He may have the talent, but he has no legs. One of my issues with him going to the last Euro's was they had to sub him way too early because he was tanked. Now image the heat in Brazil, they may have to sub him at half
on the 11th April, 2014 at 3:20pm
Prandelli is saying he will bring 5 forwards. So bascially if Rossi is fit, he will be picked ahead of Cassano, shame!

Rossi may be fit in time for Brazil but will he be fully match fit and be in any sort of form? Cassano is only 31 & a different type of player who gives us more invention upfront than others(esp as Totti appears not to be contention).

Prandelli's picks will probs be

Balotelli
Rossi
Osvaldo
Immobile
Cerci

My picks based on 5 forwards

Balotelli
Cassano
Immobile
Destro
Cerci
on the 11th April, 2014 at 1:05pm
Cassano shouldn't not go.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 11:24am
This one is too easy....Cassano MUST go to Brazil. Simples.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 11:19am
He'll be there or thereabouts when the squad is chosen.

He certainly has the talent, and I'm sure even he can contol himself for a month.

If Prandelli brings 5 forwards then he'll probably miss out, but if 6 come then he has a good chance.

There is certainly no way the likes of Osvaldo and Gilardino should be ahead of him.

ROSSI - BALOTELLI - CERCI - DESTRO - INSIGNE/CASSANO -IMMOBILE/CASSANO
on the 11th April, 2014 at 10:45am
No, heart problems in Brazilian heat! no chance he wuld pass fitness test.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 10:09am

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