Wednesday July 2 2014
Assessing Prandelli’s Azzurri reign

Cesare Prandelli overhauled Italy after its shambolic 2010 World Cup, but left the Azzurri on a dismal note. Luca Cetta assesses his reign and legacy.

Cesare Prandelli travelled to Brazil safe in the knowledge two more years at the Azzurri helm lay ahead. By the time he returned home he was without a job, resigning after admitting the ‘technical project failed’. Prandelli copped the failure on the chin, but that it ended so abruptly was a shock. While not favourites to win the tournament, Italy had the goods to go far. Instead they were on the first flight home.

It ended at the same stage as in South Africa four years ago. The difference was Marcello Lippi’s disastrous second reign finished as expected. It was a crash that could be seen a mile away but with no desire to veer from its course. Prandelli’s was more of a sudden sideswipe, but just as brutal.

When the former Fiorentina boss took over from Lippi, the Nazionale was at its lowest ebb since the 1960s. And not since those dark days of rotten tomatoes had the public been so out of love with the Azzurri. Prandelli’s aim was to change this. It was to be a Nazionale the Italian public could admire. He introduced the ethical code and took the team to all regions of the country - it was after all for all Italians. This fact was made clearer by his open-door policy towards Oriundi, foreigners of Italian extraction.

In order to make people fall in love once more, Prandelli had much to do on the pitch. His Italy would be a proactive team, taking its cue from the all-conquering Spanish. It took greater risks and would not be the Azzurri of old. Andrea Pirlo, reborn at Juventus, was the focal point in midfield. Alongside him and other veterans such as Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi, Prandelli nurtured talented youngsters coming through the ranks - from Mario Balotelli to Marco Verratti near the end. He put faith in Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi where Lippi had not.

It wouldn’t be all about results, but they were impressive nonetheless. In 56 games Italy won 23, drew on 20 occasions and lost 13, nine of which were friendly matches. Prandelli’s Italy were unbeaten in qualification for Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014. And when the question was asked of this new Italy ahead of the European Championships, they responded with gusto. This fresh brand was taken to the world, as Italy thrilled on the way to the final.

Prandelli said he dreamed of winning the World Cup with seven formations in seven games. Throughout his reign he was open to new ideas, adapting where he felt was needed, but keeping the same principles. This chameleon-like Azzurri nearly tasted victory in Poland and Ukraine, but Prandelli’s first glaring mistake came in the most important encounter, as he failed to use the same plan in the Final which had so successfully stifled Spain in the group encounter. The Azzurri paid dearly.

They had exceeded expectations in reaching Kiev. It also meant expectations rose for the World Cup. The Confederations Cup experience offered valuable insight on and off the pitch and the 2014 campaign started well enough with the win over England. Then the CT lost his nerve.

Where Italy had a chance to take command of Group D, they gave an old Italian showing. The Costa Rica reversal was the start of the downfall as Italy looked shorn of imagination and belief. His tinkering hindered the team and when the fine margins went against them versus Uruguay, Italy headed home following 180 minutes of un-Prandelli football.

It’s easy to look at its culmination and think the worst, but Prandelli deserves praise for his overall achievements the past four years. The Nazionale is at a healthier point now than in 2010, when he had to redesign Italy. The new tactician has the platform to build ahead of Euro 2016, with only tweaks required. Players given a chance by Prandelli are now better positioned to make their mark in France in two years time, then in Russia.

And that will be the legacy of Prandelli’s reign. The new Coach can continue down his path, one forged for four years.

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...
Prandelli's was the perfect coach to drag the Azzurri out of the doldrums after wc2010 and he did just that, but going into this World Cup the dynamics had changed and we no longer needed a coach to drag us back from the abyss, we needed a coach with a winning mentality who could instil that mentality to a group of players expected to go far in this tournament and a coach who would make the right tactical decisions when it mattered in crucial games! Prandelli's made his name at Fiorentina
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:23pm
Prandelli biggest mistake occurs when selecting best possible line ups especially choosing strikers. the likes of Balotelli and Cassano would never deserved to wear the famous Azzurri shirt again as this players are either "has no respect" or just plain flop when playing at the highest level. If balo only put aside his egomaniacs and play more as a team player than a fashionista, then maybe he deserve a re-call. as for cassano, he no longer has the desire. give the youngsters the chances!
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:21pm
(1) Prandelli was an absolute failure! I cannot believe the people that praise him. Considering this World Cup (and excluding the friendly against club team, Fluminense) Italy has won 1 game out of the last 10!!! We were winless in 7 before beating England! Since when did playing good football (even though we still could never score more then we used when we were considered defensive)become more important then winning??
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:17pm
I like Di Francesco too. He would be a wild card pick although Sassuolo would put up a fight to keep him. It might b a stretch but its possible a non-Italian coach could help out quite a bit. This team needs character and with all the talk of favouritism and the code of ethics maybe a foreigner would clear things up and help the squad build some character.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:05pm
Prandelli lost the plot when it mattered most. But we tend to judge coaches on one mistake rather than their many feats.

I do not think the Azzurri wil be better off with another coach.
The best for Italy now would be to retain the man who not only reshaped Italy into the attacking attractive Ticatalia, but who also learned from his fatal errors in the last two matches.
If we stick with Prandelli now, we will become invincible in France&Russia
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:01pm
Prandelli experimented with Italy. And it failed greatly!! Italy need to go back to being Italy, hard, solid, fighting team who don't play to score attacking style points, but who plays to never loose and to win. Forget all this youngsters, Immobile/insigne was useless, choose the proven ones. World Cup is not for boys, it's for men like Buffon, De Rossi, Pirlo, Totti etc.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:01pm
@ MM, We get it you didnt like CP, however your overly critical. He picked up the team after the 2010 sham, reinvented the team brought in new players and had us playing good football. we qualified for tournaments with games to spare, got to the final of euros and did well in the confed cup.l think he lost the plot at the end and maybe was to cocksure of himself. You need to look at the bigger picture, which is we dont have/produce the players. It doesnt better who takes over!
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 5:52pm
His greatest achievements came from helping us look ridiculous against spain and lose 4-0 in the final.. lost 3-0 to denmark and probably the best record was the 1-1 draw with Luxembourg!
Another super achievement was including 'prolific' strikers like gilardino/oswaldo and latest and probably the greatest, balotelli- not content at his "tremendous" achievements infront of goal for milan this season he made him the main man in ALL formations/systems! Il evaluate too- rubbish!
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 5:10pm
Assess? rubbish! The guy had no idea what he was doing. It didnt matter if he played 442 451 3511 1234 4321 we played rubbish, and circling a whole team around balotelli just made it worse. To top it off this 'new modern' style of football has seen us go backwards and minor teams go forward- Catenaccio has been all the rage in this world cup and its seen minors like costa rica, greece and other all adapt it to their games- we conceded for fun and scored never.... 1/2
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 5:02pm
Honestly, Italian football cares more about winning than playing good football. For all of Prandelli's gifts as a Manager he was not a winner. Twice in the Champions League they came up short in the last few minutes, played good football but could not win the scrappy matches.

Winning is not everything but it is the only thing that counts. Italia needs a winner, the only one who fits the bill right now is Ancelotti. The reserve I have against Conte is that he hasn't won a knockout tournament.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 4:36pm
I agree, let's give chance for the young coaches and the young players to shine as they deserve it after all. Forza Italia
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 3:57pm
All the names mentioned thus far to succeed Prandelli are pretty dull. Allegri, Mancini, Zaccheroni are all very uninspiring. Yet no one seems to mention Montella? I know inexperience may be a factor but there are two ways the team goes on from here. Either we continue building from the Prandelli project in which case I'd say Montella should get the role or otherwise we continue with Cesare P.
For a more pragmatic approach then Conte even if it means a job share with Juve.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 3:49pm
I think it's better to just say "Balotelli is not a champion". Lol
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 3:37pm
Forged for four years, ruined in 180 minutes of football against CRC and URG. We need a CT with more grit in his principles and not be swayed. The more I read about him the more I like and that is the Sassuolo manager E Di Francesco. He stuck to his principles of good attacking football with exciting Italian youngsters, Marrone, Zaza, Sansone, Berardi.

Let's put in the younger manager one that these young players can relate too.

Forza Italia, Forza Azzurri
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 3:02pm

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