Tuesday June 3 2014
Wasn’t Giuseppe Rossi worth the risk?

Sam Lewis wonders if for talent alone it wasn’t worth Italy risking selecting Giuseppe Rossi for their World Cup squad.

As news filtered through of the definitive, 23-man Italy squad for the World Cup, public reaction confirmed that a third inevitability in life should be placed alongside death and taxes: complaints.

Given the plethora of talent available to Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli – a huge swathe with international experience to boot – whittling the final squad down was always going to be a process with its fair share of disappointments.

However, one such omission rang louder than most others. Giuseppe Rossi, who was threatening to run away with the Serie A Capocannoniere award when a knee injury nearly ended his season in January, was excluded in heart-breaking fashion.

The striker, who finished the season with 16 goals, was enjoying the best season of his career in Florence and his recovery from injury to place himself into contention for a place on the Italian plane to Brazil in itself is a credit to the character of Rossi, but he will once again miss out on a major tournament.

In a parallel, fairer universe, the 27-year-old would be excitedly waiting to take part in his third international tournament. An ill-conceived oversight by Marcello Lippi in 2010 followed by a season ending ACL tear in 2011 that robbed Rossi of a place in Italy’s Euro 2012 squad have conspired to ensure that one of Italy’s most naturally talented and exciting forwards, a third major tournament will be spent watching from home.

But should he have missed out this time? One of Italy’s primary attacking choices throughout qualifying for both Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it was a given that if Rossi’s fitness was 100 per cent, then his place in the squad would be guaranteed. His exclusion suggests that regardless of the work the former Manchester United man put in leading up to the squad deadline, Cesare Prandelli wasn’t convinced that Rossi would be fit and able to cope with the rigours of tournament football in Brazil.

That said, isn’t Rossi worth the risk? At the time of his injury, Rossi led Serie A’s top scorers with 14 goals in 15 games, a ratio that is superior to his compatriots that did make the Azzurri squad – including the now Borussia Dortmund bound Ciro Immobile. In fact his final tally of 16 goals in 19 games was still the best in the League on a goal-per-minute basis.

Rossi also managed to put together a month of football leading up to the end of the season with increasing minutes in each match. His longest spell on the pitch came in Italy’s final warm-up game before the squad announcement, where the striker managed to make it through 71 minutes without incident. With 12 days still remaining before Italy’s opener against England, wouldn’t Rossi have been ready by then?

Prandelli’s selections of Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne offer Italy useful tactical versatility, but there is no substitution for talent. Without Rossi Italy are a poorer side, and when fit and firing the former Villarreal man is the best forward in the peninsula, including Mario Balotelli.

It is a heart-breaking turn of events for Rossi, who will once again spend another international tournament uninvolved. But unlike in previous occasions, perhaps the saddest aspect of Rossi’s omission is that it didn’t have to happen at all.

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Have your say...
I'm a huge Totti fan and can't help notice similarities to the 2006 WC, when totti was in a race against time to come back and make the Italy squad. It seems odd that totti should make the squad and not Rossi. Rossi returned from injury far sooner than totti and still misses out on a spot. Perhaps that is why Lippi has won more in football than Prandelli.
on the 10th June, 2014 at 11:13am
10 days before a world cup- and prandelli has learnt nothing over the last 4 years. Anyone including balo and rossi in their fantasy teams are deluded- rossi is to delicate and was useless against ireland, balotelli is straight up rubbish! A goalie that doesnt save, a defender that doesnt defend and a midfielder that doesnt create wouldnt be part of this team so why do we have a striker that doesnt score at the centre of all of prandellis plans!?? Focus on immobile, balo is a waste of man time
on the 5th June, 2014 at 4:21pm
I think Prandelli is over thinking his options. A 4-3-3 with Balo, Cassano and Rossi would be unstoppable, and would almost guarantee 2 goals a game. If Rossi's match fitness was suspect play him anyways and evaluate. If he's not performing up to speed sub him out. With a 4-3-3 taking a risk with a potentially still injured striker is a lot less costly than using an injured defence man. So was his talent worth the risk? I think yessss.
on the 5th June, 2014 at 12:55pm
Good article that raises a good question. There are so many variables and angles to this debate. Yes Prandelli used injured players in the past (e.g Euro Final) and came to regret it. But isn't Rossi's talent worth the risk? I think it is, if we brought him as a late sub. I think pairing Rossi with Cassano would have been a deadly combination, and if match fit I would take him over Insigne, who I predict will struggle in this tournament.
on the 5th June, 2014 at 12:38pm
I was at Craven Cottege that night and Rossi didn't impress me at all. I think he was too cock sure of his place in the squad and he either did not look sharp or he was holding back! If he ran his socks off that night and showed hunger, Prandelli would have picked him for sure.
on the 5th June, 2014 at 12:01pm
CP is a joke! After he game yesterday we are learning that CP is trying something new, 10 days before the wc! He should know his starting 11 by now and play them Verrati saying the result is not important yesterday is just stupid. They played Luxemburg and struggled to score! The result is everything even if it was a friendly. The team need to build confidence and play better.
on the 5th June, 2014 at 7:54am
dear Prandelli......if you win a match u r team must score.we know this team never score goals.....these selected stirkers r not capable of that. rossi&destro for aquilani&insgne. it will give goals &victories
why he choose 8 midfielders.insigne,cassano&cerci r wingers..not forwads.
there is unpredictable Balo&inexperiance immobile.
this selection is verry disappointing
on the 5th June, 2014 at 6:24am
Remember this....rossi with balotelli, Cassandra and piirlo would have frightened any defence and until prendelli keeps balotelli as a lone striker will result in a lot fewer goals. Mark my words.
on the 5th June, 2014 at 1:19am
We just drew 1-1 with Luxemburg (in Italy). We have 10 days to go, and this squad has NO tactic, no ideas, no clarity, no module, just like its manager. And Belgium beat Luxemburg 5-1 some days ago, btw. Ah, Montolivo's absence could be an excuse.

Read Prandelli's comments below:

"Mario had two good opportunities in the first half, and had another chance when Cassano came on."

Chances? More chances? Prandelli, where are the GOALS from this super-striker Mario?

This manager has no shame.
on the 5th June, 2014 at 12:35am
couldnt insigne play as a trequartista in a 4-3-1-2 instead of montolivo or would that be too much of a risk?could be too open i suppose, but it could be an option,with or without rossi.Just mad about rossi cause he is so good but unlucky,how can that happen 2 same person again.Plus i know italy tend 2 mess about in friendlies unless its kidology so everyone thinks theyre poor n then they win world cup.But again 2night,they play great passing football but miss all chances,thats why rossi a must
on the 4th June, 2014 at 11:11pm
Everyone who is complaining about Rossi being omitted is forgetting one point. Cesare Prandelli is the coach for a reason.. right?! There is a reason you and I are not the coach. He knows what he is doing and has learn from past mistakes. Now just leave this Rossi story alone.. the Azzurri are flying to Brazil in less then a day so just drop it already.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 5:48pm
The name 'Balotelli' eventually HAD to be included in an article about Pepe Rossi, didn't it??

They need to break Prandelli's contract and fire him somehow. Let's search for a proper manager, not this gutless charlatan.

For now, let us support our squad, but never this manager!

So says Jenks
on the 4th June, 2014 at 4:15pm
Those saying Rossi doesn't deserve it over Isigne are missing the point. It isn't a choice between them, it's about Rossi vs Aqui, who has no business being in a WC. He is utterly useless. Prand doesn't need 8 mids when 1 of them is Aqui. In fact, he really has 9 mids because cerci will be deployed as a wing back most times. Isigne can do so as well in a pinch. With Rossi and without Aqui he still has 8 to 8.5, or at the absolute least, 7.5, 'mid' positions. I get Isigne. Aqui makes no sense
on the 4th June, 2014 at 3:20pm
Juve Fan, a great leader learns from their mistakes. Maybe Prandelli has learnt from his & does not want to repeat them? Your comments about use of squad are unfair, no int'l manager uses his squad as much as he does. You only have to look at his squads in 12/13 tournaments. Think the Italian players were run into the ground due to 3 games in 1 week, 1 of which involved Penalties. Rossi is not going to get match fit on the bench? Do we have the luxury of giving him game time in the group games?
on the 4th June, 2014 at 3:06pm
If Rossi could have been included instead of Aqualani then the choice is easy.I would rather have a one legged Rossi then a fully fit Aqualani.He's hopeless.I was at the game Saturday and saw first hand what a waste of space he is.

The squad has been announced however if a player gets injured before the tournament starts I presume you can call another player up?If so maybe that player would be Rossi although maybe thats too many stikers.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 12:55pm
Just another example of an Italian coach believing his tactics are more important then the talent of the players on the field.
Sacchi, Trappatoni, Maldini, Donadoni and Lippi were no different.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 12:10pm
Giuseppe Rossi wasn't worth the risk? Says the guy who played two injured players in the final at Euro2012. If Balzaretti, who should have been man of the match against germany, and Nocerino for Chiellini and Thiago Motta, history books would read a very different story. Prandelli brings a squad of 23, plays only 13, runs them into the ground and is shocked by a tired and lethargic performance.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 11:19am
Rossi n Insigne should both of been in the squad instead of Aquilani.The coach must trust the other forwards.Hope he is right.As an England fan,am still angry at Rossi omission as u want the best players at the world cup.If he was medically fine was it tactical?couldnt Rossi play on the left in a front three,as well as in middle?
on the 4th June, 2014 at 8:27am
Rossi n Insigne,both should be in the squad, instead of Aquilani.The coach must trust the other forwards.Hope he is right.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 8:20am
Such a huge shame about Rossi.
Had he not got injured and had a second half of the seasons same as the first then what a difference this would have made to Italy.
Plus now that Montolivio is out thats tow big blows.

I would say though that if it was a choice between Rossi and Insigne then he's had a good season and finished it strongly.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 7:28am
Rossi instead of Aquilani would not have been a big risk. Aquilani offers nothing different either defensively or offensively. Rossi did. He may not have started but he could've come off the bench. Maybe saved himself for the knock out phase (assuming Italy get there!). Prandelli has made his decision and in a way you can see why. If we get to the Quarters or beyond then he'll be proven right but if its a repeat of 2002 or 2010 then this may be the reason.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 7:07am
Provided one stand-out moment (for us) in the first half, which got the crowd excited. Can also take penalties. Aquilani really needs to show what he can do.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 7:05am
Cesare Prandelli everyone leaving out, like this article was written too ...
He knows what to do better than anyone ...
Forza Azzurri
Farza Il Mister Prandelli
on the 4th June, 2014 at 1:11am
Quite frankly, no. Even if he wasn't injury prone, he doesn't deserve a spot on the world cup team. There are better choices, and I'm glad that Prandelli made those choices. In addition, Rossi is overrated, which is why no big teams ever go for him. He's a big fish in a small pond kind of guy.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 1:06am
Prandelli was the right decision. choice Rossi was a great risk.
on the 4th June, 2014 at 12:45am
Insigne n Rossi,both should of gone.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 9:39pm
Definitely worth the risk.U want your best players at the WC,espec ROSSI as he can actaully put the ball in the net.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 9:18pm
I really want to agree with this, but the facts are that when you look at the forwards who are going: Balotelli, Cassano, Immobile, Cerci and Insigne, then who would you remove for a below par and still not fit Rossi? And here lies the problem. The Italian strikers going to Rio are all raring to go and 100% fit and they all have something dynamic to offer the Azzurri. Let's face it, if Rossi was match-fit, he'd be going, it's as simple as that.
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 8:20pm
Iv never had faith in prandelli- 4 years down the line we will see the same set up and 80% of the same players start- he hasnt freshened things up- how is it even possible that he has waited til 3 frienflies b4 wc to field verratti/immob?? Its joke! Hes a joke! I bet we dont see verratti, cerci, immob at all in the wc- he will field a team revolving around balotelli! We have no dynamics. Its the same hit the long ball into the area and hope our 'striker' is there and not wondering around!
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 8:08pm
Anyone who has ever played professionally knows that after a serious injury you need at least 1 full match for every month you sat out with an injury. Unfortunately for GR, he ran out of time plus the Italian group is difficult, so Prandelli is not going to take a chance on him getting match fit against do or die games like England and Uruguay. Its unfortunate everyone knows his talents, but he's not match fit and won't be by 1/4 finals. As Lippi says, his one regret was not taking him in 2010..
on the 3rd June, 2014 at 7:27pm

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