With a friendly against America next week, Antonio Labbate considers some of the new faces pushing for a first call up to the Giro Azzurro.
It was September 2010 and Italy boss Cesare Prandelli was asked for his early thoughts on the Italian Championship. “The side that has struck me the most is Cesena, the Coach Massimo Ficcadenti and the player Emanuele Giaccherini,” he noted. “He’s a really interesting prospect.”
At the time Giaccherini had only played a handful of games in Serie A. Actually, he had just 32 Serie B ties under his belt given that the man born in 1985 had mainly spent his career in the third tier or lower. Prandelli’s early words of encouragement were never transformed into a call-up, but one may come ahead of next week’s friendly against America.
Today’s Giaccherini is somewhat different to the one whom Cesare had initially admired over a year ago. He’s not guaranteed first team football for a start following his move to Juventus, but there are attributes of a potentially very good player in his game. It’s also his ability to be effectively used in a central midfield position, than in a more accustomed flank role, that is his biggest attraction right now.
When needed, Juve boss Antonio Conte has selected the 26-year-old as an alternative to Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio. He may not have the aggressiveness of the Chilean nor the touch of the Italian, but there is a vitality and energy to Giaccherini which could serve Prandelli well – even if only from the bench. A game changer he may not be, but he could certainly be a utility player whether in Prandelli’s 4-3-1-2 or emerging Plan B 4-3-3.
Cesare looks to have pretty much have made up his mind when it comes to his 23-man Euro 2012 squad, but there would be no harm in taking a closer look at Giaccherini. After all, there are only a handful of Azzurri virgins who are presently knocking on the always open door of the Italy CT.
Atalanta’s Ezequiel Schelotto has made no secret of his desire to earn recognition at full level, but the tactician’s preferred system suggests that the Argentine-born midfielder will have to wait until after the European Championships to enter the Giro Azzurro. Catania’s Francesco Lodi, despite his skills and form, may have to put his Azzurri dream on hold too.
It’s in attack where Prandelli could be tempted to go for something new. With Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi out, as well as Antonio Di Natale being a doubt for his expected recall after he fractured a bone in his foot, there is a case for Fabio Borini to be selected into the squad. He may be just 20, but the Azzurrino has provided Bojan Krkic with some serious competition at Roma.
Borini, like Parma’s Sebastian Giovinco, offers something a little different to the former Fiorentina tactician. With the latter’s striker pool overflowing with similar style players – Alberto Gilardino, Alessandro Matri, Marco Borriello, Giampaolo Pazzini, etc – the former Chelsea youngster could provide Italy with a more flexible and agile attacking outlet alongside a more powerful and clinical centre-forward who is likely to be Mario Balotelli.
In terms of already capped players, next week’s Marassi clash could be beneficial to test out Cagliari stopper Davide Astori in order to give him a bit more experience. It may also be wise to call-up Palermo ‘keeper Emiliano Viviano to assess his condition after he returned from knee surgery, but do you leave out Morgan De Sanctis or Salvatore Sirigu? That’s just one of a few questions Prandelli will be asking himself over the next few days.