Monday October 9 2017
Italy do just about enough

The Azzurri achieved the bare minimum and must improve in all departments if they are to reach the World Cup, writes Nick Valerio.

On a night where Italy predictably toiled against resolute opposition, it was one of the side’s senior men who stood up and proved the difference. The four-time World Cup winners have Antonio Candreva to thank for securing top seed status and avoiding a potential play-off against Denmark and European champions Portugal, if the Euro 2016 victors topple Switzerland.

The three points also earned some much-needed respite for under-fire tactician Giampiero Ventura, but there will be no hiding for the veteran if he fails to guide the Azzurri to Russia next year.

Truthfully, the outlook looks bleak for Ventura. His men look bereft of confidence and have not recovered from the fatal night in Madrid where Spain ruthlessly exposed his squad. A campaign which started so promisingly has ended in uninspiring fashion and the manner in which Italy stumbled to the three points against Albania was emblematic of the current problems in the camp.

The performance was ever so slightly better than the 1-1 draw against Macedonia which earned widespread, and justified, ridicule from all corners of the mainstream Press and public, but this is an inherent problem for the Azzurri who regularly go through the motions in qualifying, but have always found a way to ultimately reach their objective.

This time around, the warning signs have been there for some time. Italy need to raise their level considerably, or risk watching next summer’s showpiece at home and endure the shame of a nation.

Decisions have to be made and the spotlight remains firmly on Ventura. This will only intensify further over the next month as Italy’s destiny unfolds.

The former Torino boss did not get the reaction he was hoping for against The Eagles and it’s particularly damning for the avid calcio viewer when the match plays out as expected. Italy lack imagination and spark in midfield, and while Marco Parolo is a reliable figure, the Lazio regular should not be in the starting line-up.

Serie A pass master Jorginho continues to be inexplicably overlooked and Ventura has offered no reasonable insight as to why the Napoli star, who is in the form of his life, fails to make the cut at a time when Marco Verratti suffers from constant injury. The playmaker would breathe new life in to an insipid Italy team lacking in purpose and creativity.

Above all, the sheer stubbornness to persevere with the 4-2-4 formation, which once again failed to showcase the best of Lorenzo Insigne’s ability, continues to dumbfound the watching public. The system is not working and should have been consigned to the scrapheap after the drubbing at the hands of La Roja.

There were no real standouts from the final qualification match and this should be a cause for concern for the Azzurri boss. As the play-off showdown looms, no player made a real impression and staked their claim for a spot. Collectively, Italy were lacklustre and it took nearly half an hour on the clock to create an opening of note. In truth, bar a late flurry, Albania more than held their own and stifled an out of sorts Azzurri for most of the encounter.

Expectations may be plummeting, but Italy are the masters when their backs are against the wall and it’s up to Ventura to show he can adapt and change before it’s too late.  

Have your say...
424 provided results when we played lessor teams when we were not riddled with injuries, this gave Ventura a false sense of success, but when faced with an accomplished attacking team like spain, this obviously proved disasterous! A real tactical coach would never have gone to Spain with such a formation, A deluded coach YES! This coach has not history of winning and has convinced himself of pure stupidity, He was chosen as a cheap alternative to better choices, obviously an"OLD" friend to carlo
on the 13th October, 2017 at 4:38pm
Ventura is 90% at fault for the dismal performances...forget all the other excuses like Buffon is too old, De Rossi can't run, Insigne is playing bad...Ventura chose the players and he chose the system.
Loser Ventura continues to inexplicably select players out of form just to suit his ridiculous 4-2-4 set-up rather than build a team and system based on the best Italy has to offer and we can't expect to compete with decent sides with 2 mids and 2 pure strikers...imbecile!!!
on the 12th October, 2017 at 7:43am
Pete Rossi,

Why insist with Bolatelli? He has never proven himself for La Nazionale. The man cannot score goals save for penalties and the occasional tap-in. He is a striker with average talent at best. STOP!

Lamentably, the Italian mentality is to care for results only. We are lost with this manager Ventura. Look how we only scored vs Albania because they committed an error!
But Even with Carlo or Conte, we simply have no talent.

It used to be an honor to play for Italy. Now?
Just a job.
on the 11th October, 2017 at 8:06pm
I will support Iceland (USA and Holland are out).
I say this because Ventura will NOT qualify us.

This Italy squad does not deserve to go to Russia. Even if we qualify, and keep this clown coach, we would exit the first round. It'd be the final scandal for our football.

How can it be that they just renewed Ventura's contract til 2020 when the WC is still 8 months away? Are they insane? His method is pathetic and he wins nothing. He and his boss belong in Jurassic Park.
on the 11th October, 2017 at 7:38pm
@sam martino
Italy has no respect for Italian youth. We seem to have more interest in making foreigners italian and putting rejected foreigner into our team and trying to make them bigger than they are...
We need reform in serie A. Cap on foreigners on the pitch at any time and we will soon have our Italy back.
Ventura has to go!
on the 11th October, 2017 at 5:21pm
@pete Rossi
Not a bad list of players. Wouldn't beother with balotelli tho. No point wasting a space he is inconsistent, unreliable and mentally unstable. Dont get sucked in to the goals he is scoring we must remember he is in france which isn't a defensive league in big games he vanishes.
We need to rid ourselves of ventura before we do anything else!
on the 11th October, 2017 at 5:17pm
Just read in a leading Sports Website that FIGC bosses are trying to lure Conte to take up Azzuri CT role again.Hmmmmmmmm

On a different note .........

Trump must be really gutted ........ USA fail to qualify for WC first time in 35 yrs when he is the President with Iran & Mexico qualifying ..... that too in buddy Putin's Russia !!! Poor Syria though just missed out .........
on the 11th October, 2017 at 1:10pm
@ sva the azzurri - maybe the economy is terrible in Italy right now, but it's even worse in Spain and Portugal and they seem to be doing fine at the sport.

Italian football needs to modernize. It has no identity. I have lost a lot of interest in this team since Ventura took over. I think he was fill in because no decent coach wanted the job... sad...
on the 11th October, 2017 at 12:44pm
Other European countries call their young players up much earlier than we do which then gives the players tournament experience earlier which is vital. Any manager with any common sense picks the best players and builds the tactics around this. I agree about the comments about Cutrone 4 in 4 for the under 21s and scoring for Milan fairly regularly so why not give him a chance. He has more goals this season than Eder, Gabbiadini and Inglese put together yet they are in the squad. Incredible.
on the 11th October, 2017 at 9:22am
The squad selection by Pete Rossi is amazing. If only we had a manager with the guts to call those players. We have a lot of young talent that must be given the opportunity. What I also will never understand is why we feel the need for our young players more often than not to have to go through all the levels of the national team under 17, 19, 20, 21, if players are good enough why do they have to do an internship before playing for the full national team. If a player is good enough why wait.
on the 11th October, 2017 at 9:16am
Will FIGC ZOMBIES ever wake up from their trance or are they hell bent on ruining the national team for generations to come...something is very very wrong there!

FIGC director general Michele Uva insists “no-one has dreamed” of questioning Italy CT Giampiero Ventura.

FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio assures that Giampiero Ventura’s job “has never been up for discussion”.

Can you beleive the garbage that comes out of their corrupt mouths???

Where's 'u tiradrittu' in our time of need!
on the 11th October, 2017 at 8:29am
@Baggio-4-Ever where are you based? I'm in London — get in touch bro:
on the 10th October, 2017 at 9:42pm
@Baggio-4-Ever I was the anonymous one talking to you the other day on another post about that muppet Ventura! Haha! All joking aside I have been watching my beloved Italy since around the 1990 WC when a young Roby Baggio graced the stage and then the 1994 team and all the greats up till 2006! We know what we are talking about and somewhere along the line Italy have gone AWOL. The FIGC and whole system needs sorting out but we have right now great talents at our fingertips too!
on the 10th October, 2017 at 9:41pm
Peter Rossi....your spot on......Now be a Warrior and give a coach or coaches that would use these players....I'm totally with you btw
on the 10th October, 2017 at 8:58pm
* Almost forgot Florenzi the next De Rossi :)
on the 10th October, 2017 at 8:15pm
I ain't no manager — but Brazil, Germany, Spain and France would have the fear of god in them. The future's VERY blue!


Buffon (Donnarumma) (Merit)

Conti (Adjepong) (Dickmann) (Calabria)
Bonucci (Caldara) (Rugani)
Romagnoli (Chiellini)
De Sciglio (Spinnazola) (Zappacosta)

De Rossi (Diawara) (Bonaventura)
Jorginho (Gagliardini) (Orsolini)
Verratti (Marchisio) (Chiesa)

Insigne (Bernadeschi)

Belotti (Imobille) (Pietro Pellegri)
Balotelli (Berardi) (Kean) (Cutrone)
on the 10th October, 2017 at 8:12pm
You are what your records states you are......That's a great America sportscasters quote.....Nothing more and nothing less. Mediocre coach with players are more interested in playing for the clubs who would probably loss sleep if they weren't called for their country....We've been reduced to a almost a 3rd tier soccer country because of the stupid politics involved with the Federation....A great revolution is needed........
on the 10th October, 2017 at 8:12pm
Spot on @Sam De Martino Been crying out for these kind of players to be called up for an age. REPEAT! Think we should be playing even younger players like Kean, Diawara, Chiesa, Palmieri soon as to integrate them as its more progressive and modern. Right now its shambolic but we will be going into a golden age of players to call upon. Pietro Pellegri for example, and the aformentioned. WC18 too soon I feel and well we have Ventura and play 4-2-4! The FIGC will fire him but after WC18 or playoffs
on the 10th October, 2017 at 7:43pm
Juve fan here but agreed. They should give cutrone a chance. At this stage whats the worse that can happen. He does kinda remind me of inzaghi. I wish higuain would attack the spaces more like that.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 7:27pm
I'm a juve fan.. .but my biggest issue is where is Cutrone? He has saved the overrated and over paid new signings of Milan a couple of times already! Why aren't we trying to make him the next mbappe? Or better yet he could be the next inzaghi!!!!!! Also I would ban insigne for being just auwfull!!!!
on the 10th October, 2017 at 4:29pm
Even though Ventura is a clueless, its not his fault. The fact is that there isnt many top quality italian players anymore in Serie A to pick from. That goes down to the serie a teams who look over italian players in favour of foreign players, who arent really much better. I feel though there is a change in Serie A, and young italian players are getting more chances to play. Like Kean, Cutrone, Locatelli, Pellegri, Donnarumma, and i also feel that serie a is much more offensive now.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 4:26pm
ventura is stubborn and clueless. NO COACH IN SERIE A PLAYS A 4-2-4. To predictable and there is no midfield. Italy need the 3-5-2 or the 4-5-1 with a holding midfield. Buffon, Florenzi, BOnucci, Chielini, Spinazola, Bernardeschi, Veratti, Jorginho, Pellegrini, Insigne, Belotti
on the 10th October, 2017 at 4:19pm
(2/2)another result of Venturas stubbornness. Why are players like balotelli jorginho bonaventura thiago Motta still not getting called up? I mean they're all playing great for their teams and truthfully italy on paper if you called up the best they're a group many would fear. They better wake up because the way they're playing, they're lucky to make it to world cup and if they do, who wants to see another group stage exit?
on the 10th October, 2017 at 4:16pm
(1/2)Venturas main problem is his stubbornness. Obviously the 4-2-4 isn't good that needs to be changed. Can someone please tell me though why Lorenzo insigne still plays and we use this formation to get the best out of him and he's still terrible? I mean in napoli he's very good. International level, simply below standard. Why doesn't El shaarawy get a chance.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 4:12pm
If we get Greece we'll be fine; anyone else and we're in trouble.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 1:01pm
I might as well start planning my summer holidays for next June because while Ventura is in charge we will not qualify via the Play-Offs. I have never felt so embarrassed watching my country play.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 12:10pm
Ventura has to be admired for bringing in the youngsters but the guy is tactically inept and deluded!
Italy always struggle in Sept, so what does he do! He try's to take on Spain with an untried and attacking formation, in their own yard and we get hammered! So dumb!
Our star player is Insigne and the team should be built around him, that means playing the same system as Napoli where he flourishes. In addition that's why Jorginho should not be overlooked as he's a vital cog in the Napoli system
on the 10th October, 2017 at 11:54am
The trouble is that the FA cannot get Ancellotti even if it wanted to.The reason being is Carlo is receiving £10million from Bayern and if he took the job now, it would mean he would lose this! I cannot see him doing that so unfortunately, we will have to put up with Ventura until Carlo no longer receives his pay out.The performance was not as bad as against Macedonia but seriously Ventura needs to change his tactics and call up only fit players as the play offs will be very hard indeed.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 11:33am
What blows my mind is that anyone in the FIGC can watch this and think that Ventura should keep his job. Conte went to the Euros in 2016 with a lack-luster squad and was able to go deep in the tournament, unfortunately losing on penalties. Ventura is making a mockery of this federation, it's painful and embarrassing to watch.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 11:26am
If Swedan, Northern Ireland, Rep of Ireland and Greece are our playoff options then with out a doubt Greece in my view is the best option. Both Irelands very hard to beat at home in that atmosphere, and Swedan look a good team, a team that gives us problems. Been away first is an advantage. Unfortunately we are going to lose Jorginho to Brazil, Conte failed to call him for the Euros and Ventura just wont call him. He is the best in his position says Ventura, then make room for him. Disgraceful.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 11:09am

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