Tuesday November 7 2017
Azzurri finally open to Jorginho

Giampiero Ventura finally bowed to pressure by calling Jorginho and Simone Zaza, but Richard Hall asks is it too late to rescue Italy's World Cup hopes?

Giampiero Ventura insisted throughout his tenure that Jorginho did not fit into his tactical system. Faced with the weight of public opinion, disappointing performances and the risk of losing the Napoli midfielder to his birthplace Brazil, we’re finally going to see a change of tack.

There could not be more at stake, as in their double-header with Sweden on Friday and next Monday, Italy risk missing out on their first World Cup since 1958. Ventura has been ground down by criticism and complaints, opening the door to new options, but is it already too late?

Seeing Jorginho’s name in the squad list for the World Cup play-off was frankly a big surprise. The Napoli midfielder has two caps already, but they only came in friendlies and his exclusion from the squad for a year has seen him look at perhaps switching allegiances to the country of his birth, Brazil. Ventura has always insisted that the 25-year-old has been left out of the squad purely for tactical reasons and that the game-plan simply did not suit him. As one critic put it, then Ventura realised he didn’t have a game-plan.

With Jorginho it seems that the CT has satisfied public need for his inclusion, but in truth it does allow him to change the system should either of the two legs not go to plan. In some respects, whilst Ventura will not admit that he was wrong previously in his choices, the pick does make it a strong possibility that he may return to a 3-5-2 or even switch to fashionable 4-3-3.

The much maligned 4-2-4 would not shock anyone if it was employed in the first leg, but Jorginho does allow him to experiment if things do not go well.

Simone Zaza also seems to be a fully loaded ‘get out of jail card’ and one could see him being deployed in the second leg should Italy be needing something direct and different. With Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti not fully fit, having an on-form striker at least available is essential.

Euro 2016 is not a happy memory for Zaza. His missed penalty against Germany saw him mocked on social media to the point where it was a merciless meme, the run-up that is still going. A year on and he has once again been called up to the Azzurri squad after impressing with his new club, Valencia.

Zaza has been calm about the entire situation, according to his father Antonio Zaza. He said that his son felt over-criticised and it was down this and the need to find himself again that he promptly moved to Spain. Now, in his new surroundings, the 26-year-old has been in electric form, scoring an impressive eight goals in his last seven games.

Although he failed to net in his last outing against Leganes, he has the prestigious position of being second top scorer behind Lionel Messi in La Liga and hopes he can bring this form to help the Azzurri in their hour of need. Ventura will be hoping that the ex-Sassuolo, Juventus and West Ham man can find redemption in this crucial time.

The choice to promote Zaza back to the squad is perhaps a masterstroke, as he is in such blistering form and, whether alone up front or alongside Belotti, he can still be a threat. Whilst some eyes were rolled that another Italian export, Mario Balotelli, was omitted, they were very rare. Despite Balo’s renaissance on the Riviera, it seems that his added maturity and professionalism is not fully being recognised by Ventura.

This is beyond doubt the biggest test of Ventura’s career and he carries the weight of expectation for an entire nation on his shoulders. His tactics and approach were easy to question during the group stage, even if he ultimately only dropped points against Spain and Macedonia. With Jorginho, Zaza and the talk of a tactical change, he might finally be open to different ideas. But is it too late?

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Have your say...
Italy have a lot of talent. Veratti may not be a classic registra, but he is a deep-lying player in the mold of an energetic Fabregas. The reality is that Ventura and the coaches before him all have a tendency to pick players who aren't great. Jorginho is Brazilian, but I can respect (tho I'd love him to play with us) him feeling Italian. Not true about Eder, for example. A very good but nowhere near great player. What's the point?

More discretion...and higher standards.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 6:13am
Since Pirlo retired from the NT, we've had a hard time finding a regista to fill his role. Verratti isn't the answer, and I personally feel that young Diawara will be the solution. Yes, he's not Italian Born, but he wants to play for the Azzurri, and will be eligible to join the team very soon. For his age, he is a classy player, calm on the ball in tight spots, and has great passing game. 20 years old, but plays far beyond his years.
on the 9th November, 2017 at 7:44pm
they have to be thinking of a replacement now for ventura... maybe mancini or ranieri... i still think ancelotti is going to dis them
on the 9th November, 2017 at 7:08pm
Considering the squad Ventura has chosen this should be his starting 11 that clearly reflects current in form players that have creativity and solid link-up play:



Florenzi, Bonnuci, Chiellini, Spinazzola/Darmian

Jorginho, De Rossi, Verratti

SES, Immobile/Zaza, Insigne

Reverting back to the old 3-5-2 safeguard, using a similar team to what Conte did in the Euro's simply highlights Ventura's cluelessness and inability to utilise the best players and formation at his disposal.
on the 9th November, 2017 at 10:09am
Insigne not to start?Wow.We really do have a stupid coach.
on the 9th November, 2017 at 9:51am
- Italy have they should at least be competitive (unlike they were against Spain) even against the best sides! Why can't Insigne play as a support striker in a 3-5-2 if needed n if Giovinco won't get picked cause he plays in MLS? At least some in form players such as Zaza n Jorginho have been picked this time but for whatever reason Italy do seem to have a weird policy against picking their most creative talents. I remember Baggio in 96 so what chance does Gio have? Shame Bonaventura isn't fit!
on the 9th November, 2017 at 7:42am
I had n awful dream that Sweden won 1-0. Hope that doesn't come true! At least it looks like Italy r going back to a more familiar formation. I think they will go through. I just worry about the lack of creativity up front espec against a solid, organised side like Sweden as the wingers don't seem to ever show up! Giovinco n Balo could add something more in a tight game. I'd have thought some of the younger guys like Rug n Rom would've been given more of a role by now too! With the players -
on the 9th November, 2017 at 7:28am
Besides Jorginho Ventura is still leaving a lot of quality aside. Caldara can fill in at CB, in fact he and Rugani should be the pairing (or with Romagnoli, the three) at the back going forward. Federico Chiesa should be called, and I would've taken Pellegrini over Parolo despite Lazio's success this season. Time to start blooding the younger players; the squad list for this year's U-21 Euros would be a great start.
on the 9th November, 2017 at 12:42am
What an idiot. He brings in Jorginho and then drop Insigne from the lineup. These 2 play for the same damn team, are in form and could link up the midfield and offense really well. And yet he pairs the aging BBC together. Where will the goals come from Italy? Where will the goals come from? Italy deserve to be thrown out. They are led by an idiot. There mentality is old and they lack ambition and guts.
on the 8th November, 2017 at 5:25pm
I remember when we would rely on key target players like Baggio, Totti, Del Piero & whilst coming close we played negatively & didn't win (1990-2002). Weve a good range of players in all positions. Ventura should have done better but even playing to our best we could still expect to come 2nd to a quality & much improved Spain. Ventura must use a formation suited to our 'in form' players & play positive attacking football. If we loose with a spirited fight, fair enough we don't deserve Russia
on the 8th November, 2017 at 2:55pm
I am not expecting the world cup but come on a write of the quality of Italian players is absurd. Think of the player lippi took to the 2006 world cup amelia grosso oddo zaccardo barone gilardino and iaquinta whilst having to reply on materazzi after nesta injury ruled him out of most of the competition. This team is fairly interchangeable the only real player you would struggle to replace would be belotti and verratti, if you play to this team strengths they are formidable.
on the 8th November, 2017 at 12:20pm
@no hope
It is Ventura's fault. The talent pool available in all areas have respectable records playing in the highest levels. Furthermore, only a little over a year has passed since Conte's Italy looked like world beaters, and no major retirees were announced afterwards.

Even so, results have been especially poor and Ventura refused to change his approach. That's terrible coaching by any standard.
on the 8th November, 2017 at 10:43am
@ Dan

Right on the money!

This "we don't have any decent players anymore" excuse is wearing thin... the people who are saying this don't have a footballing brain I'm afraid...
on the 8th November, 2017 at 9:54am
Can't believe half the crap that's being said on here!

Yes we do have to many foreigners but so do Spain, Germany, France, England....

Yes we do also have quality players in every position if there are no injuries ie. Marchisio, Florenzi, Verratti, Jorginho, Belotti, Insigne, Bonucci, Bonaventura, Chiellini,
Candreva, Berna, etc.

Serie A is healthy, alive and competitive again contrary to what 1 or 2 imbeciles are saying.

on the 8th November, 2017 at 9:44am
I'm not buying the 'we don't have any good players' nonsense. We might be shy of genuine word class players, but what we have is still good enough to forge a decent team. With Ventura, it's been all over the place: no balance, no settled first 11, no clearly defined gameplan. The players don't seem fired up under him either. Conte managed to make a good team out of a lesser group.
on the 8th November, 2017 at 9:18am
Knowing Ventura I wouldn't be surprised if he benches Jorginho while playing 4-2-4 and then only put him in on the 85th minute of the 2nd leg just to prevent him playing for Brazil in the future.

For all the hype about Zaza I'm not even sure he'll start any of the matches. It's more likely that Ventura will persist with Immobile and Belotti despite the both of them being unfit. Eder is almost certainly the super sub so we might not even see Zaza play at all.
on the 8th November, 2017 at 7:47am
Ok, Giovinco made the move to a stupid league, he should just stop complaining about not getting a recall. Anyone can score 20 goals playing in a 3rd tier league
on the 8th November, 2017 at 5:43am
A 0-0 or even a 1-0 Loss isn’t good enough. My team for game is: 3-5-2

Barzagli Bonucci Chiellini

Candreva De Rossi Jorginho Veratti Florenzi

Immobile Zaza

My 23 man Team if we qualify
Buffon, Perin, Donnarumma, Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli, Rugani, Darmian, zappacosta, Florenzi, Marchisio, De Rossi, Jorginho, veratti, pellegrini, candreva, bernardeschi, insigne, el shaawary, Immobile, belotti, Balotelli, Zaza.
on the 8th November, 2017 at 4:25am
It’s simple we have to go to Russia next summer. If we don’t it will be a national disaster. Ventura and the FIGC are to blame for this. If we do qualify Ventura will need to pick the best fit Italian players available to him. No Verdi, Galliardini, De Sciglio. Awful players. My only fear is we will get humiliated like 2010 and 2014. We have no Pirlo to save us this time. Pleased Jorginho has been picked but I feel Ventura was pressured into it. Now
For Sweden we have to score at their ground
on the 8th November, 2017 at 4:15am
Is it really Ventura's fault? Maybe we should look at the talent that's available. There is very little of it. Gone are the days of Pirlo, Del Piero and Totti. As long as the Italian First Division teams continue to field more foreigners than locals great talent will not develop rapidly. Until this changes the National Team will be a revolving door of journeymen. The best thing that could happen to Italy is to miss the World Cup. It will usher in an new era not seen in a long time in Italy
on the 8th November, 2017 at 1:29am
Is it really Ventura's fault? Maybe we should look at the talent that's available. There is very little of it. Gone are the days of Pirlo, Del Piero and Totti. As long as the Italian First Division teams continue to field more foreigners than locals great talent will not develop rapidly. Until this changes the National Team will be a revolving door of journeymen. The best thing that could happen to Italy is to miss the World Cup. It will usher in an new era not seen in a long time in Italy
on the 8th November, 2017 at 1:27am
Italy have been pretty poor since 2006 as they just don't seem to have the players anymore, and when they do they don't pick them. Just think of the amazing players over the years wh either didn't get picked or barely played, such as Marco Simone, Marco Delvecchio, Montella, Signori, Vialli (mid 1990s), and then Fabrizio Miccoli and Fabio Quagliarella in 2010. Yet average players such as Iaquinta and others are always picked. It is such a waste. Sweden are tough & could speed up Italy's declin
on the 7th November, 2017 at 11:12pm
So a loss in the first leg is coming up. I'll say 3-1 Sweden in Solna, 2-0 win for Italia in Milano. Gli Azzurri scrape in on away goals.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 10:02pm
Bring Jorginho up so he can be blamed and exiled permanently when the dead nazionale and its corpse-like players who rot in Serie deAd fail to put a shot on net against the Swedish. I will be supporting my daughter in laws nation this time around. Go Denmark.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 6:40pm
Wont make a diffrence. We will struggle against Sweden. This is the worst Italy side I have ever seen. Ventura has not only ruined Italy he has put us even further behind Europes elite. 1 thing i never thought i would see is a world cup without Italy; looks very very possible now. I thank Ventura and Serie A's lack of respect for ITALIAN youth for this nightmare. Signs have been showing for years and nothing was done the foreigner players just keep arriving... the end result is this
on the 7th November, 2017 at 4:36pm
@Anonymous King i agree it needs massive restructuring it is frankly absurd that Tavecchio is running this organisation considering his utter lack of experience of being a athlete or working in serie a.

It not so much the issue of appointing coaches because they are somewhat limited in the wages they can offer probably the single biggest reason why some one like ancelotti wouldn't take the roll on. What annoys me is the politics it is all about looking good rather real action to solve problems
on the 7th November, 2017 at 1:13pm
This would be my squad of 26 :
Buffon, Donnarumma, Perin
Bonucci, Chiellini, Caldara, Rugani, Romagnoli, Spinazola, Darmian, Emerson.
Verratti, Marchisio, Jorginho, De Rossi, Florenzi, Candreva, Insigne, Pellegrini, Chiesa, Diawara.
Belotti, Balo, Immobile, Zaza, Giovinco.

Bernardeschi I struggle to see what the fuss is about. Eder and Gabbiadini in my view aren't good enough. Cutrone call up in the future.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 12:29pm
As a huge roma fan great to see florenzi back not just for us but for Italy. Hope to see Emerson playing for Italy soon as well when fully fit, I think he is a good option. Also Diawara would be a good callup when eligible. I think the games with swedan will be tight, if we can keep the back door shut I think we will qualify. I think a tight 1-0 win in swedan or a draw then we win at home in a packed san siro.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 12:17pm
At last Jorginho is called up, incredible it has taken so long. Whether he plays remains to be seen. Relieved he is finally called up. Can someone please explain why Romagnoli and Caldara haven't been called yet Astori has, its incredible. Caldara has been great for Atalanta. Shame Marchisio just back from injury or he would have been called. Balo should be there over Eder and Gabbiadini,another stupid call by Ventura. The rest of the squad I am reasonably happy with.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 12:12pm
Can't believe players like Romagnoli and Caldara are being kept out.
Astori is a liability and has never been a champion.
Barzagli is still a wily defender but age 37?
Romagnoli, Rugani, and Caldara are amongst the best young defenders in world football, they must be getting time.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 11:27am

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