Italy drew 2-2 with Haiti in midweek and Giancarlo Rinaldi has warned of more disappointment during the Confederations Cup.
I think I celebrated when the news was confirmed. Finishing runners-up at the European Championships would mean Italy would get another crack at the Confederations Cup. But now, as the tournament looms, I'm starting to wonder if my joy was a little bit misplaced.
It is always nice, of course, to test yourself against some of the very best teams in the world. However, a look at the Azzurri of late does not suggest they are in the finest form going into the event. And their previous participation four years ago was a total nightmare.
Despite Cesare Prandelli's best attempts, Italy seem to remain indifferent to these friendly encounters. In addition, many of their number look jaded or demotivated after lengthy and demanding seasons. The omens are not particularly good.
Sometimes that is just the incentive La Nazionale needs to defy the odds. In the face of adversity, they have given some of their finest displays. But, try as I might to convince myself, I struggle to see that happening in Brazil.
The Juve-Milan block is a grand concept but it must be hard to gee those players up for this FIFA party. The Bianconeri gave their all to clinch another Scudetto while the Rossoneri had a to-the-wire fight for a last Champions League place. Now you are asking them to gear up again for another battle without any time to recharge their batteries.
And, in typical Italian analysis, what is to be gained by doing well at the Confederations Cup anyway? Certainly the last time around their flop in South Africa was a pretty fair warning of how they would perform in the World Cup 12 months later. But even a set of smashing results this time around would be no guarantee of glory in 2014, assuming the Azzurri translate their current group lead into qualification.
Of course, it is probably a profitable time for Prandelli in terms of getting to know his troops. He gets precious little "hands-on" experience with his players nowadays and that, at least, will be welcome. Perhaps he will learn some more about who is ready for inclusion in his squad next year and who is not.
But, from a supporters point of view, I wouldn't expect very much. Recent friendly displays have been pretty much universally underwhelming, often relying on individual excellence to turn around lukewarm team performances. It is hard to think that will change in South America.
That is why I will be watching with my emotions in check as the games unfold. I have faith that the Azzurri can do well when the World Cup rolls around, but much less so in this warm-up competition. I'll be happy to be proved wrong but, for now, I'm thinking that taking part in the Confederations Cup was not the blessing I first thought it would be.
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