Italy defeated a weakened Uruguay 3-0 in a Nice friendly and the 4-2-4 formation continued to give reasons for optimism.
This game welcomed back the Juventus players who missed out on last week’s 8-0 thrashing of San Marino, as Coach Giampiero Ventura’s side again played some good football, particularly out from the back.
In such a formation, attacking play is almost expected. Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio were the midfield pairing who were tasked with the job of dictating the pace of play, but you would imagine that when Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti returns from injury, he would be absolutely vital in this team.
It must be remembered that this Italy side was facing a weak Uruguay that were missing Diego Godin at the heart of their defence and their two main goal threats in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, but nevertheless this performance has given Azzurri fans reason to be optimistic.
Lorenzo Insigne in particular seemed to flourish in this more attacking style, with the Napoli star key in the first half. He was constantly trying to make things happen and was a huge threat at various points in the game.
Having someone like Andrea Belotti up top gives the midfielders and wingers an outlet in the 18-yard-box, because they know that if they give him enough service, Belotti will tuck away at least one chance – or in this case, force someone else to put the ball into the net for him.
Ventura has Italy playing an attacking brand of football in a potentially risky formation, but with two hard-working wingers, he’s seemingly got the balance spot on. The depth in this squad means that multiple players can come in and out of the starting XI and not look out of place, with Federico Bernardeschi, Manolo Gabbiadini and Alessio Romagnoli immediately coming to mind.
One down side of tonight was seeing Marchisio come off with a muscular problem in his first Nazionale appearance in 18 months, but when Italy face off against Liechtenstein on June 11, Riccardo Montolivo or Lorenzo Pellegrini are expected to deputise, with the former playing over 70 minutes tonight.
In the two games this post-season, they have scored 11 goals and, regardless of the opponent, that is still quite impressive.
The style of football that Ventura seems to be building has great potential and is fun to watch, with Insigne in particular playing an important role. With versatile players in the final third, the formation could rotate between a 4-2-4 and a 4-3-3, which could be just as effective.
With a vital World Cup qualification match against Spain in September, it is imperative that Ventura builds around this 4-2-4 formation, as it gives Italy the best opportunity to out-score their opponent on top of the usual defensive solidity.