As the battle amongst Italy’s goalscorers intensifies, Jeremy Lim explores an aspect that could tip the odds in Mattia Destro’s favour.
In such form are Italy’s striking candidates that even taking a player with double scoring figures to the World Cup can feel like an unnecessary luxury. But that is exactly the situation Mattia Destro could find himself in this summer.
After being reborn for Roma, the 23-year-old is pushing relentless to make the plane bound for Brazil this summer. Destro had spent months on the sidelines nursing his way back from persistent knee trouble, and now looks as if he’s intent to make up for every minute lost. The rejuvenated forward’s hat-trick on Sunday took his tally to 13 - or a goal every 85 minutes - heightening debate on who Cesare Prandelli should take.
There is still a distinct possibility he might be overlooked - again. Fabio Borini had already shown him up for the final berth in Prandelli’s squad ahead of Euro 2012, despite Destro’s breakthrough season where he netted 12 goals in 30 appearances for Siena. A double heartbreak would surely be too much to take then, although he’s refusing to show it. “I do my work every Sunday and try to help Roma as best I can. That is all I can do,” the Ascoli native towed the party line yesterday, after his first treble of goals since 2010.
Whether Destro has a place in the final reckoning or not, there is no denying his transformation into the genuine article, and indeed, his turnaround after injury is impressive. His return against Fiorentina last December immediately coincided with a shot high into the back of Neto’s net, and it’s safe to say the fledgling bomber hasn’t bothered looking back since.
After Destro’s excellent scoring statistics, a less obvious aspect that strikes onlookers later is an excellent work ethic and willingness to sacrifice from the team. Played in the area he guarantees a goal presence and clinical edge, but away from the box the former Inter youth is distinctly mobile. Understated in the task of ploughing the channels, Destro offers an outlet for a long punt from defence, and the ability to initiate moves of his own.
His traits when deeper certainly aren’t lost on Rudi Garcia, the one responsible for his swift resurgence. “He proved that he is not only a box striker, but a complete forward,” the Giallorossi boss explained after Destro’s latest feats against Cagliari. “Even when he plays out wide he can spread his influence in different areas. It’s true that when Francesco Totti isn’t playing, Destro is a very useful centre-forward.”
Yet it has been Destro’s pitchside understanding with The King of Rome, displayed together from March, that is driving Roma’s title challenge to great heights. His level of industry for the team has only helped Totti and the capital club better express themselves. And if goals are not enough to distinguish Destro from his Italy counterparts, then this trait is why he could prove to be a most worthy sidekick to partner Mario Balotelli from the off in Manaus.
Having already shown he has a couple more aces up his sleeve, count on Destro doing whatever it takes to make the trip with the Azzurri for real this time.