Monday October 2 2017
Stubborn Ventura

Azzurri Coach Giampiero Ventura must change his ways and be open to different players if he wants to truly succeed, writes George Rinaldi.

Following Italy’s 3-0 defeat to Spain that all but sets up the foregone conclusion that Italy would need to navigate a World Cup play-off, Giampiero Ventura was on the defensive when questioned on his tactics.

Supposedly, he was ‘testing things out’, though the now-infamous 4-2-4 style of play is becoming more of a recurring theme.

How are players in Serie A, where no team plays the 4-2-4, meant to simply succeed in such a formation?

The recent announcement of the Azzurri team that will play against both Macedonia and Albania spelled out more panic for the tifosi. Ventura’s sheer reluctance to alter his formation has seen his squad selections made on his tactics, not on recent form or ability.

The main absentee from the upcoming matches is Napoli’s Jorginho. Little needs to be said of the 25-year-old these days. A big cog in the working wheels of the Partenopei’s brilliant start to the season, if performances alone got a player a call-up, he would be one of the first on the list.

It is not as though Ventura has a lack of midfielders to pick from – he selected nine in total – so the CT is picking on preference for his system alone.

The absence of Riccardo Montolivo due to a thigh injury meant a space was open for Jorginho in the centre of midfield, but instead Ventura opened to select Bologna winger Simone Verdi. When Daniele De Rossi and Lorenzo Pellegrini also pulled out, the Coach turned to Cagliari’s Nicolò Barella.

A choice based solely on the 4-2-4 formation, Jorginho could have been one of a number of options for the midfield pairing, yet the focal point remains on the wingers.

To argue for the inclusion of Verdi over Jorginho, it would only make sense if one of the usual members of the wide-men weren’t available or weren’t performing well.

One of those, Federico Bernardeschi, seems to be included just on the fact he’s been part of the team for the last few international matches. The new Juventus youngster has featured just 55 minutes in total thus far for the Bianconeri, that is just double the number of minutes he has made for the national team in September (23).

Surely the impressive performances of Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa were worthy of a call-up, but again the same old faces are present. Ventura’s counter-intuitive method of sticking with the same players in the same formation is not working.

If the players cannot adapt to the style, which so far they haven’t, then Ventura must make alterations either in personnel or formation. Preferably both.

Another who seemed certain to make the squad was Nice’s Mario Balotelli – scorer of five in five games including most recently at home to Marseille -  though his exclusion appears somewhat down to the fact he has recently become a father. And is still Balotelli, with all the baggage that goes with it.

Referring to the other forwards in question only two – Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile – are there both on ability and goal-scoring form. The former has now been ruled out for four weeks with a knee ligament injury and was replaced by, of all people, Chievo’s Roberto Inglese, who has just one goal this season.

Even so, the most questionable selection was Eder yet again. The Brazilian-born forward has donned the Nerazzurri shirt for 78 average minutes, without one goal to his name.

Simone Zaza, regardless of ‘that’ penalty miss, netted a hat-trick for Valencia against Malaga and seemed odds-on to be selected, but was not. The 26-year-old has six goals in seven Liga appearances this season, and on that form, is bettering both the aforementioned Eder and also Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini. He is also far more of a centre-forward in the Belotti style than either of those two.

The continued selection of players either not performing well for their club, or even not playing at all, is not how Italy should be going about their business.

It is almost reminiscent of when Captain Fabio Cannavaro came back for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and flopped massively.

In reference to Cannavaro, the defence seems to also remain somewhat in the past. The improved performances of Andrea Barzagli may merit a place for the Juventus man, but Milan centre-half Alessio Romagnoli is still wondering how much more he has to do to be included since returning to the Rossoneri starting XI. Davide Astori would be the right man to make way for the younger, and frankly better, defender in the shape of Romagnoli.

No matter how good Italy have been on the main stage when the expectation is down, Ventura’s squad does not feel like they could muster up performances such as Antonio Conte’s side did in Euro 2016.

These matches against Macedonia and Albania, prior to a seemingly inevitable World Cup play-off, is the most perfect time to try out new players, new styles and see what works best.

Should Italy qualify and continue to play the 4-2-4 with the current team, their 2018 World Cup experience could be over before it has properly begun.

Have your say...
Save the Azzurri wrote:

"Now we risk losing Jorghinho to the Brazilian NT because of half wit Ventura's refusal to select one of Serie A's finest midfielders..the Azzurri rot has to stop!"

I agree, it must stop. But Italian youngsters need to be there, not foreigners.

If the Brazilians want Jorginhos (sp?), let them have him! He is Brazilian (so is his name).

Bonaventura, Parolo and Verratti take his place.

What is wrong with you?

You ought to change your profile name!
on the 6th October, 2017 at 5:19pm
You bunch of Messi Fanboys!

You all should apologize to Baggio if you want Balotelli on La Nazionale.

These commenters wanting Balotelli back must be born after 1995 or they have some fascination with the exotic.

The Prandelli Era is OVER! They both FAILED! We don't need temperamental boys. He will never be a Pele!

We have Pepito Rossi for heaven's sake, ignored all the time. Bellotti is in great form and so is Immobile. And they can ALL score goals (hence the term 'striker').
on the 6th October, 2017 at 5:13pm
Great Article Sir. Finally someone seeing sense! Balotelli with 25 goals in 37 games. Enough Said. Jorghino's past 2 seasons enough said. Romagnoli, Conti when fit again. Diawara, Kean and Adjepong when ready and Chiesa and we have an amazing future but right now I fear Italy will if we get there have a very poor WC18. Ventura was a bad choice and is clearly a stubborn fool with limited tactical nous. Ancelotti, Mancini or Sarri would win us a WC with the right squad and tactics.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 2:02pm
The squad should look like this. Get rid of all the players over 30.




on the 6th October, 2017 at 8:25am
Very great article by Mister Rinaldi. I say this for long time, my brother Giampi needs to listen to the people. Not try silly 4-2-4 formation again. We must play Azzurri way. Please support this motion by tweeting to Gian Piero Ventura #RediscoverAzzurriWay

If he do this with the tactic, Italy will be dangerous like before.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 4:36am
@Save the Azzurri

Its more important to select Senatori then talent. Been that way since, oh lets see 2006? Last time Azzurri won the WC.
on the 5th October, 2017 at 6:32pm
Currently the Azzurri are a National Team in search of an identity!
on the 5th October, 2017 at 4:15pm

Di Sciglio Chellini bonucci romagnoli darmian

Verratti De Rossi Jorginho

Balotelli belotti

3 centre backs
2 wingback
3 midfield
2 strikers

Forza azzurri!!
on the 5th October, 2017 at 2:02pm
Now we risk losing Jorghinho to the Brazilian NT because of half wit Ventura's refusal to select one of Serie A's finest midfielders..the Azzurri rot has to stop!
on the 5th October, 2017 at 2:24am
If we focus on just the younger generation and the ones not still going on reputation then the Azzurri should look like this:

GK: Donnarumma
DEF: Conti, Caldara, Romagnoli, Barreca
MID: Veratti, Jorginho, Benassi
FW: Chiesa, Belotti/Balo, Insigne

That team above will be very competitive. Too bad Bentura can't see that far ahead and will still pick the "Senators".
on the 4th October, 2017 at 10:28pm
Ventura played a 2-man midfield against, what was effectively a 6-man midfield, selected by one of the best possession based teams in the world... and Ventura has no idea why Spain were then able to pick the Italians apart with total ease! He is completely clueless.

Buffon, Barzagli, De Rossi, Chiellini, Candreva, Parolo etc... You’ve been tremedous custodians of the Azzurri shirt, and I love you all, but the time has long passed for you to have handed it over to the younger generation.
on the 4th October, 2017 at 6:06pm
Ventura is a journeyman manager.He has an average record with too many teams.It was never going to work him.Now Carlo is maybe waiting to take over next summer when we go out early(if we qualify) unless he takes the Milan job.
As for Balo,what does the guy have to do to get a place in the squad.
on the 4th October, 2017 at 9:47am
are you guys serious recalling balotelli the guy is a joke he isn't even the strongest forward option for nice plea and saint maximim are superior. It like people didn't see him play for milan or liverpool you really want that kind of player up front for italy? You shouldn't be hand holding a player through a tournament if balotelli is to return to the national side he needs to go through this season maintaining his goal scoring form and avoiding silly incidents.
on the 4th October, 2017 at 7:35am
this is a disaster waiting to happen. This man may be the worst CT Italy has selected to represent the National team in many years. I cannot recall a worse selection. Tavecchio should be fired as well.
on the 4th October, 2017 at 1:18am
We have to lose against Macedonia or Albania only then will they consider sacking this poor excuse of a CT.
It doesn't matter who replaces Ventura because no matter who it is (even Zaccheroni!)could NEVER be worse than the old fool who's there now!
on the 4th October, 2017 at 12:50am
I always am positive regarding the CT but upfront how can you pick Inglese before Giovinco regardless of where he is playing. Florenzi should of been called, has minutes under his belt and is playing well. He could obliviously pay at RB or on wing if needed. He needs to pray he does not have any injuries to make his choices a bit easier when June rolls around. He said he is going to select Balotelli after they qualify? We are 8 months away from WC with how games prior? Two or three friendlies
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 8:41pm
Ventura out! A dinosaur is the modern game...We need to strike now and get Carlo before its too late!!!!
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 8:03pm
Ventura is bringing great Shame to Italy - he must be removed alongside the entire FIGC.

This 4-2-4 formation is completely out of touch, as other teams are just clogging the midfield and picking us apart one pass at a time.

We are making minnows look like powerhouses against us. Spain is a top level team but they must have been laughing at Italy's 4-2-4 formation. They probably thought it was a joke.

So much for Italy's 12 year cycle of finals. We will be lucky to get in at WC18.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 4:49pm
It's not really difficult. All he has to really do is put out the following team:

GK: Donnarumma/Perin (Sorry, sentimentality cannot accommodate Gigi
Def: Conti Bonucci Chiellini Barreca
Mid: Jorginho De Rossi Montolivo (just kidding) Veratti
FW: Insigne Belotti Balotelli

Insigne can play behind in a 4-3-1-2 if that works as well as the 4-3-3.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 4:14pm
Should have done more to keep Conte! He was unlucky in the euros and I am certain he would have guided us to the world cup in first place
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 3:02pm
This Azzurri is the worst its been in years regardless of age. They are so predictable and have no freedom to be creative in this lackluster system. You have Insigne and Giovinco with creative genius and you force one to run up and down a flank without creating anything and the other you vanquish because he plays in North America. Balotelli doesnt play because "hes Balotelli" even though he is by far our best Striker. Italy have so many good midfielders yet we use a system that only includes 2.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 2:51pm
What is it with Italian manager and being so stubborn and never letting youth or inform players a chance to shine! Soo fed up with it, honestly, if he still uses 424 during the warm-up games leading up the world cup next year (if we get there) I don't think I'll sit down and watch the tournament can't handle the embracement. Anyone who fields 2 midfielders against a team like Spain and doesn't change tactics should be banned from football
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 1:44pm
No florenzi? That is unforgivabler
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 12:59pm
How did we go from a masterclass tactician and exceptional team manager in Conte who remains amongst the top 3 coaches in the world to this poor excuse of a coach?
Ventura is so stubborn and naive it defies belief!
The fact that the FIGC appointed him in the 1st place and that he still remains after the Spain and Albania debacle suggests that they don't even care.
Players should revolt to have him removed or risk being humiliated time and time again.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 12:54pm
Great article, shame Ventura wont read it!!

Italy are arguably coming into a "Golden Generation" yet Ventura is making us look like we have a limited pool of players to choose from. "We need certainties" when he talks about Balotelli, what more certainty do you need than almost a goal a game (not just this season either) from a player who could be a huge asset for Italy.

I wont even talk about Jorginho, there are no words for his omission! Same could apply to Romagnoli

I could go on!
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 12:38pm
Sadly the only way this utter mess will be addressed is if Italy fail to qualify for the WC, and then the FIGC will take action.This coach is a dinosaur and is dragging the Azzurri down to levels I have not seen before. But what more can we expect from a guy who in the previous two games used two players who had not played a game for their clubs and picks a player with one goal this season to a player who has scored 7. Get Ancelotti no matter what it costs.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 11:29am
Stubborn's putting it kindly. His decision making & reasoning is awful. I will be very surprised if we don't drop some points over the next two games, & even if we don't, it will only be a stay of execution. Aside from him calling up younger players (something that was necessary anyway) & holding training/evaluation camps, it's difficult to see what good he has done.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 10:56am
A desperate choice by FIGC and they know it. But...supposed he was sacked. Who would take his place? Carlo is more interested in club mgmt than being at the helm of the national team. Capello will be the wrong choice(he is a footballing dinosaur). Foreign coach maybe? I am afraid they are stuck with this embarrassment of a coach for the foreseeable future
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 10:09am
He has effectively left zaza petagna giovinco sansone bonnaventura soriano benassi baselli jorginho florenzi romagnoli caldara out so he can experiment inglese eder cristante barella verdi parolo astori and darmian. I guess they don't fit his tactical plan which seems to have no flexibility to allow for half decent players. Lippi may have been stubborn but he only really left behind cassano ventura seems to have decided to leave behind some of the best and brightest Italian players in the world.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 9:13am
It would seem that he's hell bent on destroying the national team. The lack of Jorginho was baffling for sure but it's even worse that he left red hot Zaza for Gabbiadini and Inglese, both combined don't even have half of Zaza's goal count this season. It may sound harsh but I hope Italy fail to qualify and maybe that will wake them up.
on the 3rd October, 2017 at 8:15am

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