Versatility is key in modern football, players that can cover multiple positions and fit into different tactical systems are an attractive proposition for international Coaches, especially in big tournaments. This is an area in which Emanuele Giaccherini has an advantage over the other wide players he faces competition with, to make Cesare Prandelli’s 23 man Italy squad for the World Cup.
The Sunderland midfielder is primarily deployed on the left wing, but he can cover both flanks seamlessly and can play a more defensive wing-back role, as he did in a 3-5-2 formation on his Azzurri debut in the 1-1 draw against Spain at Euro 2012.
A substitute role in Brazil may be the best way of utilising the 28-year-old’s talents. La Nazionale’s opening contest against England in the searing heat of Manaus will call for an injection of energy in the latter stages of the game and this is where Giaccherini fits in. His quick feet and turn of pace could unnerve an England defence that is sure to tire in the second half.
This is assuming the Tuscan native makes the squad. Never before have the Azzurri had such a surplus of attacking wingers in the national pool to choose from, a relative weakness in years past. Lorenzo Insigne, Antonio Candreva, Alessandro Diamanti, Alessandro Florenzi and even Stephan El Shaarawy figure to be Giaccherini’s main competition for a squad place, with Alessio Cerci a virtual lock to be included in the squad and indeed a starting place if Prandelli opts for an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
Giaccherini made a great start after moving from Juventus to Sunderland and became a key player under Paolo Di Canio. However since the Italian tactician was fired and Gus Poyet instilled as manager, Giaccherini’s fortunes have suffered a set back. He has failed to hold down a regular starting shirt under Poyet and it is seen to have affected his chances of making the Italy squad.
A recent run in the team towards the end of the season and a goal and assist in a 20 minute cameo during Sunderland’s recent 4-0 win over Cardiff has seemingly put him back on the radar, though. He will hope to end the campaign on a high to convince Prandelli he is worth selection.
One aspect in his favour is Prandelli’s faith. The Azzurri CT gave the midfielder his first cap, in the high pressure environment of Euro 2012 against World and European Champions Spain and the former Juventus man didn’t let his Coach down, with a solid performance.
He has since gone on to make 18 appearances and has performed at a high level in the international game, playing a pivotal role in Italy’s third place finish at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, appearing in every game and scoring a wonderful goal against hosts Brazil.
With all that in mind it will be the Sunderland winger’s performances during the remainder of the season that may hinge on whether he makes the trip to Brazil or watches at home on television.