Tuesday June 3 2014
Verratti and Insigne’s moment

Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne could be Italy’s wildcards at the World Cup, argues Aman Sehdev.

Considered most at threat to be cut from the provisional squad, differing circumstances meant Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne secured their spots in Cesare Prandelli’s 23 man World Cup squad. It is an opportunity that could present both as wildcards this summer.

Marco Verratti’s inclusion in the Azzurri’s final 23-man World Cup squad could be seen as a result of Riccardo Montolivo being ruled out of the tournament. The Milan captain’s cruel injury in a pre-tournament friendly against Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage on Saturday opened the door for Verratti to be picked in his place.

It was argued previous in the Italian media the PSG youngster’s place was at threat, and if that was the case he put in a solid display against the Irish to prove his doubters wrong. The 21-year-old was at the heart of Italy’s early running, confident in possession and distributing the ball upfield.  

Verratti’s assured performance seemingly convinced Azzurri Coach Cesare Prandelli that he merited inclusion in his World Cup plans and it is this faith that could well serve La Nazionale in Brazil. The PSG man has long been deemed the heir apparent to Azzurro midfield lynchpin Andrea Pirlo and Verratti is aware he won’t dislodge the 2006 World Cup winner in this tournament: “In recent months I’ve played as a regista- but with Pirlo here I think that might be impossible for me!”

Where Verratti becomes a useful addition is in his versatility. “Being able to play a number of different positions is certainly to my favour,” the former Pescara prodigy has admitted. Verratti’s ingenuity and creativity could prove a valuable asset in a midfield role alongside Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi as he can play further forward, linking defence with attack, or in a deeper role.

Verratti’s former Pescara teammate Lorenzo Insigne may just be the biggest surprise inclusion in the squad, but make no mistake about it, the Napoli forward’s performances and flexibility warrant a place.

Giuseppe Rossi was seen as a certainty, as long as he could prove his fitness, and ultimately Prandelli seemingly wasn’t convinced he could stand the rigours of a month-long tournament. With Ciro Immobile, Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano included as out-and-out strikers, Insigne leapt ahead of Rossi and Roma’s Mattia Destro to claim a squad berth and now has an enormous opportunity, much like Verratti, to reward Prandelli’s faith.

The 22-year-old forward often played out wide for Napoli this season and although he has in the past stated his desire to play through the middle, he offers Prandelli a wealth of options in different tactical systems.

If Prandelli decides to partner Balotelli with a support striker, Insigne could thrive in that role, as he can draw defenders away from the Milan man by drifting out wide and could prove a perfect foil. Should Prandelli opt for a 4-3-3, Insigne could just as capably occupy a wider role.

Insigne proved in his match-winning performance in the Coppa Italia Final that he is a man for the big occasion, giving the Fiorentina defence a torrid time, his two goals a testament to his undoubted ability. He also netted the winner against England in the recent European Under-21 Championships.

The Azzurri will rely heavily on stalwarts Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Pirlo and the mercurial Balotelli to form the core of what they hope will be a successful tournament. However, this current Italy has a refreshing air of youth brimming through the squad and Verratti and Insigne are two of those upstart young guns.

They may not have been in the final squad if circumstances were different, but both are determined to have their say in Brazil and may prove to be the jokers in the pack.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Was at the game Saturday.Whilst Verratti was very good with the ball he didn't really create many chances.The only one I can remember is the cross he put in for Immobile early on.Its the same when I've seen him play other times.

Also if the going gets tough and he plays alongside Pirlo then neither one are strong defensive midfield players so we might get hustled off the ball.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 1:05pm
Agree with Ferban and the Anonymous poster... It speaks to Italian culture and the way things are done in Italy in general... It's a conservative nation that doesn't like change! Just look sat the economy... with all the reform needed, no one seems to want to act and change things.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 11:58pm
I just hope that cp will not underestimate the British game on set pieces ! We need to take our chances as they arrive and insigne has the touch . Verratti will keep the ball and spot the pass awesome when you consider ballo loves the ball . Palletta needs to play against england as he will keep england at bay !!! By far our best defender and great in the air . Subs will be really important so we need something up our sleeve to win the first game !!!! Forza Italia
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 6:41pm
Prandelli will regret very much his decision to exclude G.Rossi. His excuses are not professional. G.Rossi should of been included. even Azzurri's doctor confessed Rossi's fitness is fine. Azzurri need a finisher, goal scorer; does Prandelli expects that from Balo who has been inconsistent all season long!!! Spain's Coach chose injured Costa, French Coach included Ribery... they are not 100% fit!! but both coaches know such player can make a difference. It is a shame, total shame from the coach!
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 5:16pm
iam realy disappointed with the omission of rossi.italy must want a good centre forward.if balo injured rossi is perfect.immobile,cassano,cerci are not.
insigne diffrent to rossi.include him in the place of aquilani.
i dont know wat CT thinking.rossi is our best forward.must take him when he was 70% fit. disappointing selection.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 4:09pm
I'm glad both are in the 23. Montolivo has never made a difference for Italy in the past, he is very much the devil you know with Italy. sad for him but give the new generation a chance.the doctors say Rossi is fit so Prandelli would have good reason for leaving him at home. Sad for him too, but now it's time to get behind the lads, Even Acquilani, remember he is one of us and I wish him and all the others the very best. I really hope they win it. There is no reason they can not.

on the 3rd June, 2014 at 2:56pm
Think Insigne adds something to the team that isn't their with the other Strikers - direct, pacy with a great shot and eye for a pass. Verratti was excellent on Saturday - i have thought he has had an easy ride at PSG, as they have so much of the ball and teams rarely try and dominate them. He coped and excelled against a determined, fast and physical Ireland. In addition thought his tackling was a plus, he will get in the trenches and battle in that respect he appears more De Rossi than Pirlo.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 2:18pm
I love the fact that theses two youngsters are in the lineup including youth will hopefully pave the way for more youngsters to be included in the future .Instead of always relying on the trusted older players . Insigne & Verratti are going to play major roles in this tournement and tournements in the future .
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 1:33pm
Absolutely agree. Cynicism is always high in Italy with just about everything - so its no surprise that this 'risk' is going to head that cynicism. I think it could pay off - Insigne and Verratti have champions league experience, and both seem to be free from pressure, other than the pressure they put on themselves - they could be the elements that push Italy forward = as you say, a wildcard but surely versatile elements added in the national team.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 11:19am
The fact that both were seriously under threat of not going to the WC shows the untrustworthy attitude toward young players are still there in Italian football.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 11:17am

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