Friday November 10 2017
Immobile holds Italy key

Ciro Immobile is pivotal if Giampiero Ventura is to drag his faltering Italy side past Sweden in the World Cup playoffs, writes Jack Stevens.

“You try, but it doesn’t come out. And when it comes out, it all does at once. It’s like ketchup.”

Gonzalo Higuain’s recollection of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s fantastic analogy has never been more appropriate for Italy’s dangerman, Ciro Immobile. Hailing from Naples, Lazio’s No 17 has been nothing short of electrifying for the capital club this term, and with a critical qualifier against Sweden on the horizon, the Azzurri have never been more in need.

Immobile’s re-birth, similar to that of his compatriot Simone Zaza, has been phenomenal, and he has found his feet in a dynamic, efficient side, brilliantly coached by Simone Inzaghi. The attacker’s claim that Lazio will “continue to amaze people” after their 3-0 rout against Cagliari is a statement just as applicable to himself. In short, Immobile is the Giampiero Ventura’s best chance of bundling his dysfunctional Nazionale over the line.

Ventura’s stubbornness has somewhat stifled any enthusiasm surrounding Italy’s challenge for the World Cup next year, and to accuse Ventura’s 4-2-4 formation as ‘controversial’ would be a grave understatement. Such has been the backlash, Jorginho’s inclusion and a widely-predicted switch to a back three has undoubtedly been influenced by public pressure.

However, not even a switch to accommodate Napoli’s Jorginho has pacified everybody, with Arrigo Sacchi claiming that “no-one in Serie A uses three at the back.” Ventura would certainly be brave to dismiss Sacchi’s ponderings about the side, and the legendary Coach’s words certainly hold more sway than that of the public’s. Yet it is the latter’s concerns that have manifested themselves in Ventura’s tactical plans.

However, a switch to a more structured, fleshed-out midfield will benefit Marco Verratti, who has struggled to show his talents in a solitary two-man pivot. Nonetheless, any winners or losers in such a tactical switch need not worry about Italy’s frontline; as long as Immobile is fit and firing, Italy have hope.

Now 27, Immobile has recovered remarkably from an unspectacular second spell with Torino and previously a streaky, unremarkable time as Borussia Dortmund’s No 9. His move to Sevilla in 2015 had all the hallmarks of a Monchi masterstroke, however not being in a comfortable environment once more left Immobile pining for Italian shores.

What makes Immobile so invaluable to both Lazio and the Azzurri is not only the form he is in, but the fact he has provided so much more than goals. His six assists in Serie A for high-flying Lazio have not gone unnoticed, and Immobile’s pace combined with his eye for a pass have made him Serie A’s top scorer with 14 strikes and arguably the player of the season so far.

While the Aquile have hit the headlines for the wrong reasons this season, Inzaghi has coached Immobile perfectly and managed to re-capture the form the Italian showed in his breakout season at Torino in 2013-14.

Unspectacular results against Israel, FYR Macedonia and Albania have compounded a national urge to rediscover a formula and tangible thread of visible progression under Ventura. Whether or not the ex-Torino boss will be in charge next year remains to be seen, but one thing is clear - whoever commandeers Italy to Russia must harness and build around Immobile.

Italy will travel to Sweden this evening, praying that they will not go down in history as the first Azzurri team to fail to qualify for a World Cup since 1958. Their chances and hopes rest with Immobile, and given the erratic, last-ditch tactical switch by Ventura, a nation will hold its breath. Italy’s main man up top is red hot, and they need him more than ever before.

Have your say...
Sack him and place Buffon for Monday. Italy then will play with grita and using 4-3-3. PERIOD
on the 12th November, 2017 at 11:49am
Start Zaza and Insigne or Eder. Immobile and Belotti are Headless Chickens that cannot win anything.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 2:24pm
There were a lot of players who played badly yesterday, but Immobile didn't play at all. Verratti is mega over rated and Insigne is not the saviour. Italy just need a good CT.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 9:48am
Yeah.... a Haribo key!

This team at the moment deserves to go out after that display, it's been like a slow descent in to the italian space jame since 2010 WC.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 7:42am
He does not hold any key! Belotti is real deal and insigne. Any manager who has those 2 fit and well and not starting is 1000% the wrong nan for the job. Unfortunately we need to not qualify to rid ourselve of this nightmare! Ventura go away.... please!
on the 10th November, 2017 at 4:10pm
It is inconceivable that Insigne, arguably the best Italian right now, is not starting... This CT should be fired as soon as possible... He is the worst to ever represent Italy, as far as I can recall. Serie A's best team doesn't have a starting [;ayer representing Italy.. Jorg and Insigne have to be starting every game. Fire this buffoon and put in Sarri in a dual role.
on the 10th November, 2017 at 3:36pm
The absurdity of Ventura's tactics is that we could easily field 2 strong sides in 4-3-3 each with an entirely different starting 11. Game 1 of the WC could have Buffon, Conti, Chiellini, Bonucci, Darmian, Verrati, DRossi, Jorghi, Insigne, Candreva & Bellotti - lovely stuff; then in Game 2 have with fresh legs with Donnarumma, Florenzi, Barzagli, Rugani, Spinaz, Marchisio, Parolo, Bonaventura, El Shar, Immobile, Bernadeschi - still lovely! It's so obviously the perfect formation for our best 22.
on the 10th November, 2017 at 2:44pm
Lets see what happens now.. its upon us least we are starting with 3 proper mids albeit in a defensive 5-3-2 formation. If Verratti gets some protection I feel he can contribute in this set up but oviously 4-3-3 would be better. I hope Florenzi and Jorginho get some game time too.
on the 10th November, 2017 at 2:02pm
Of course Immobile will be important, but for me Insigne actually holds the key as he has the quality to feed the likes of Immobile or decide the tie on his own! Sweden will be rubbing their hands if Insigne isn't in the starting line up tonight!
on the 10th November, 2017 at 12:26pm
In my opinion, the pivotal part of the game starts and ends with a strong midfield... an attacker is only as good as his midfield... a great attacker is invisible without a strong, efficient and intelligent delivery from the MF. Having said that, Immobile does seem to have his form back, and that can't hurt. But I think too much would be expected from him if you believe he cane carry this team. I would only go with one attacker - why 2? This way you can play Insigne who must be on this team.
on the 10th November, 2017 at 11:10am

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