Antonio Labbate looks at what we can learn from Cesare Prandelli’s latest Italy squad for their games against Armenia and Denmark.
Cassano put to one side
Even his best ever start to a Serie A season, in terms of his goals to games ratio, wasn’t enough for Antonio Cassano to be recalled to the squad. There were already suspicions after his omission from the Giro Azzurro post-Euro 2012 that he was no longer in the prime thoughts of Prandelli  and the Coach admitted as much on Monday. Although he was eager to underline that the Inter player’s international career is not over, he noted that he wants to focus on younger elements for now. That can only be good news for Juventus’ Sebastian Giovinco.
Form can indeed pay dividends
The tactician’s early pledge that his national side would be one based on meritocracy hasn’t always been strictly imposed. However, he has to be credited for rewarding players such as Andrea Ranocchia, Antonio Candreva, Stephan El Shaarawy and Alberto Gilardino for their fine form in recent weeks. Ranocchia and Candreva should arguably have been called a month ago, while the two strikers – along with Cassano and Rolando Bianchi – have been the most prolific Italians in the top flight so far this term.
Still no true Trequartista
Alessandro Diamanti thinks he’s a Trequartista, Prandelli doesn’t. The CT made that clear after the failed 45-minute experiment of fielding the Bologna man behind two strikers in the 2-0 win over Malta last month. It means that the Coach’s 4-3-1-2 – if that is the system he reverts to – will again contain a false attacking midfielder in the shape of Riccardo Montolivo. And no, Giovinco can’t play in the hole.
Pirlo still his main man
Andrea Pirlo has had his issues this season, so much so that there have been suggestions that he should quit the national side completely. That idea is not one shared by Cesare who has reiterated that he wants the Juventus playmaker to continue orchestrating his side’s play in World Cup 2014. But that depends on whether the opposition will allow him to – a problem that Prandelli really needs to find a solution for.
Why four goalkeepers?
It’s not the hottest topic when discussing Prandelli squads, but the tactician’s insistence to keep on selecting four goalkeepers is puzzling – especially when there are no doubts about first-choice Gigi Buffon. What makes his decision even more questionable is that, even though he’s picking one goalkeeper more than the norm, he can’t find any room for Andrea Consigli of Atalanta or Lazio’s Federico Marchetti. With all due respect to Morgan De Sanctis, what’s the point in continually selecting a 35-year-old over one of the aforementioned two?
No doubts over Destro
Mattia Destro was expected to blossom under the attacking tactics of Zdenek Zeman at Roma, but the boy at the centre of the longest transfer saga of the summer has yet to open his account for his new club. In five appearances, totalling 383 minutes, the former Siena player has yet to ripple the net for La Magica. That goal drought, though, hasn’t been enough to see him demoted back to the Italian Under-21s as they prepare for their crucial European Championship play-off tie against Sweden. Prandelli believes that this kid, who bagged in the 2-0 win over Malta, is the future.
Giaccherini in yet again
Out of all the outfield players selected, Emanuele Giaccherini is arguably the most contentious pick given that he’s not even assured of first team football at Juventus. He’s started just three of his club’s seven Serie A matches and he’s not played a single minute in their Champions League campaign. He could be in the squad not only because of his humble work ethic, but also a shortage of left-sided Italians who are familiar with the 3-5-2 system. Saying that, he’s better in a central midfield three…