Italy got the victory in Armenia, but there were again more questions than answers for Cesare Prandelli, argues Susy Campanale.
There is probably no such thing as a comfortable Italy win in qualifying, or indeed anywhere else, so it was no great surprise that there were moments of heart-in-mouth nerves during the 3-1 victory over Armenia. At least we saw improvements in midfield, ever so slightly in attack, but the defence is really beginning to cause concern. When Christian Maggio is the most impressive member of a back four, something is probably wrong.
Domenico Criscito made a great return to international duty after he was so cruelly and unfairly denied his time in the Euro 2012 spotlight by over-zealous investigators. Maggio was surprisingly good down the right after his previous disasters, though that might have more to do with Armenia’s approach than anything he has done. Andrea Barzagli struggled with the pace of the zippy forwards in Yerevan and on the goal was expecting the referee to stop play for Maggio’s head injury. Leonardo Bonucci, well...
Let’s be honest: Bonucci had an absolute nightmare. He didn’t get a single decision right, not a movement correct and not a run timed well. The Juventus man was dreadful and it’s not for the first time this season either. He is slow and does not have the tactical nous to use positioning as a way of making up for it.
Considering Giorgio Chiellini was dropped to the bench in order to make way for Criscito at left-back, would it not be wise for Cesare Prandelli to reshuffle the Juventusish defence? For example, leave out Bonucci and re-route Chiellini to his old centre-back role. I’d rather have the Tuscan hard man in the middle than Bonucci and he’s just as strong in the air as his Bianconeri teammate, if not more.
It would also do Prandelli good to watch the Under-21 side’s performance against Sweden. Their European Championship play-off may have only ended 1-0, but there were more glittering moves and one-touch football in that game than all of the post-Euro 2012 senior Italy outings put together. Lorenzo Insigne’s progress to the Azzurri can only be a matter of time, especially if Sebastian Giovinco continues to disappoint so very regularly at international level. The Azzurrini’s 4-4-2 approach could also inspire Prandelli to stop trying to invent a trequartista.