Some berate him for playing within himself on the national stage. Others view him as indispensable due to his constant commitment and spirit. Certainly, few things divide opinion as much as seeing Claudio Marchisio pull on the Italy strip.
Standing on 43 appearances, it feels like the Turin native has been around the modern Azzurri setup forever. A regular for Italy since the World Cup in 2010, Marchisio featured in the qualification runs to Euro 2012 and the tournament this summer. Indeed, he will be one of the most capped names bound for Brazil. Yet it is still hard to pin him to an iconic moment in his international career thus far.
He was present in Italy’s run to the Euro final against Spain and when finishing third in the Confederations Cup, putting in many an energetic performance. Despite that, critics have become frustrated by his inconsistency transferring his match-winning abilities from a Juventus shirt to the Azzurri one. His goals and characteristic box-to-box style prove fundamental for the Bianconeri but appear to desert him for Italy, leaving many struggling to perceive his actual output.
A reason Marchisio falters to best apply himself for the Nazionale is unwittingly due to his own versatility - Cesare Prandelli has used the 28-year-old’s features to seemingly perform adequately in a myriad of positions to shore up the starting XI as the situation requires. It’s far from an ideal solution, but sufficient. The midfielder agrees: “I have often changed position on the field to avoid going on to the bench, because versatility and availability must be the priorities of every player.”
Added to Marchisio’s existing repertoire of winger and attacking midfielder this season is the duty of regista. Antonio Conte earmarked him as an understudy to Andrea Pirlo at Juventus while the latter was injured, and he has since shone in front of defence. Using his speed of thought, precise passing and tenacious work off the ball, the Juve youth product has discovered yet another role in which to prove an asset for club and country.
Further diligent outings have seen him come back to prominence for the Serie A leaders. Though not appearing as frequently due to the emergence of Paul Pogba, Marchisio has not been shy going about his contributions - that standout display against Trabzonspor and deflected strike past Lyon were key to Juventus making the Europa League semi-finals. Given the attacking depth at Prandelli’s disposal at the World Cup, Marchisio should be restored to the centre for Italy where he is most associated with similar moments of quality.
The quintessential utility man, it’s Marchisio’s ability to fulfil multiple roles and knack for delivering key moments that sees Prandelli place faith in his man, even if the outcome has been underwhelming to date. No matter which side of the fence Azzurri fans sit on towards his inclusion however, all the nation will be hoping Marchisio can come up big this time where it counts in Brazil.