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Sunday November 12 2017
This Italy needs changes

After Italy’s defeat to Sweden, Giampiero Ventura must tinker with tactics and attitude to reach the World Cup, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Calling Italy’s first leg performance of this World Cup play-off an embarrassment is probably an understatement. It says something about the Nazionale's history that they are nonetheless still considered favourites to qualify on Betstars, but is that optimism warranted?

Coach Giampiero Ventura did not help matters with his post-match comments showing a weak mentality. While players Lorenzo Insigne and Leonardo Bonucci seemed to transmit a more no-excuses, no-nonsense attitude, Ventura looked to deflect attention and criticism away from his own faults. Not only did Sweden play with more physicality and toughness, but also their early pressing and overall approach stifled the Azzurri throughout.

In building from the back, Sweden forced Italy into circulating possession from one end of the pitch to the other, with no choice but to have wingbacks Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva drop deeper in order to bring play forward. By doing this, Italy did not have the numbers in the midfield, nor the creative means to provide any sort of consistent flow of chances to strikers Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti.

Though the two lacked the necessary movement and runs to open more of a window to cause havoc, this Italy side suffered from the non-existent box-to-box profile that can link play between midfield and attack, which is why the visitors were devoid of any real chances – minus the missed header from Belotti.

Proof is in the post-match stats that Italy’s midfield five did not do enough and, essentially, isn’t the proper personnel type that can get it done. Italy outshot Sweden 10 to eight, but had only one effort on target, which saw Darmian hit the post.

As Marco Verratti sits out the second leg due to suspension, and Daniele De Rossi lacks the technical means to create, Ventura must shake up the midfield by starting Jorginho.

Rather than having De Rossi sit as the destroyer at the base, Ventura could insert Jorginho and another holding partner of his choice, use two wingbacks to stretch the field and insert a player like Insigne as a Number 10 behind two strikers. This could help Ventura get more from his midfield by allowing the Napoli star, and arguably the side’s most skilled player, link play and get on the ball often to create for those up front.

Moving off tactics and back on to the mental side of things for the Azzurri, their the mentality needs a facelift. ‘Grinta’ and passion were two of former manager Antonio Conte’s biggest focuses for his Euro 2016 side that, although did not have the same level of quality as Ventura’s current roster, battled for one another and showed the sacrificial attitude required to rise up in situations like these.

As we’ve clearly seen time and time again, Italy has the quality to play attractive football, but lack the right mentality and hunger to make it work. These come down to tactics and attitude, something each and every individual in the locker room must change come Monday if Italy are to stave off elimination and avoid missing out on the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. Otherwise, it’s curtains on the Italians at San Siro.

Have your say...
Sack Ventura and place Buffon for Monday. Italy then will play with grita while using 4-3-3, too. PERIOD
on the 12th November, 2017 at 11:50am
Italy can play expansive football. In 2006 n at the Confeds cup even the English commentators were complimentary about the way Italy played. I suppose it's just about getting the right balance but 2 1st round exits n now a potential no show is not good enough for Italy! It's a bit late to overhaul the team now but a 4-3-3 with
Buffon
Florenzi(Conti)
Chiellini(Romagnoli)
Bonucci
De Rossi(Marchisio)
Spinazzola
Chiesa
Verrati
Belotti(Balotelli)
Insigne
Bonaventura(Jorginho)
would've been cool!
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:55am
n seeing the highs n lows of the 2006 WC triumph n the subsequent scandal n bankruptcy of many clubs I think that there needs 2 b a change of attitude with the powers at be 4 Italian football to continue it's recovery! Change the outdated laws preventing clubs from implementing new stadia n give the youngsters a genuine chance so as not to halt progress. There r many positives in Italian football history but u can't just rely on the past or things get stale like that performance in Solna!
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:37am
So it looks like Ventura will revert back to his favoured 424, or 343. Terrific. The players have shown time & time again that they are not comfortable or effective with those systems, & yet the imbecile persists. I'm 90% certain that Sweden will exploit a two man central midfield & score an away goal.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:18am
I agree with the article. Sadly! I aren't even angry at the coach. I feel sorry 4 him. He's already seen as a figure of ridicule. Seeing him on the touchline n also that Insigne meme both reminded me of the 'Wally with the brolly' Steve McClaren debacle a few yrs ago! There r serious problems when the players r contradicting their own coach in the post match interviewS. Candreva did force the Sweden keeper into a save tho! As n admirer of Italian football since the WC in 1990 I think-
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:10am
When are you guys gonna stop bagging the likes of Insigne.
Anyone who watches him @ Napoli knows how great he can be in a familiar role and formation but he's DEFINITELY NO WINGBACK and this is exactly how stupid sVentura uses him and now he also wants Insigne to replace Verratti ie.against Sweden!
So what the hell do you expect from him? to perform miracles?
If you recall Del Piero was also asked to play in a similar role as winger for the national team and never ever convinced in that role.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 9:19am
It will be a miracle if Italy actually goes through. If you watched the first lag game, Ventura was like an idiot walking up and down the sideline, looked completely confused and lost. The Sweden coach was talking to his players throughout the game while Ventura was angry at the referees and never gave any tactical instructions from the sideline. Donadoni was way better than Ventura and didn’t last as long as this imbecile.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:54am
It won't matter. Do you think if Italy change formation, then Ventura will be able to thinker it when Sweden anticipate it? That guys is CLUELESS! He used 3-5-2, Sweden anticipated it, and he had no idea how to counter their tactic! He only knows 4-2-4, and let the his players do the rest, PERIOD.

Been following azzurri since the early 90s, and this is the worst manager they ever hired. Even Donadoni was better, at least he knew how to trouble Spain.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 7:41am
This is just another angry tirade by a member of the football Italia staff. Nonsensical mumbo jumbo from someone who doesn't get paid to give their opinion. Ventura has been awful yes. But his squad selections have not. How many times do we have to see Insigne be useless before you admit that he is? He started the last 5 games and did nothing, one game he doesn't start and everyone is angry. Get over him. And the over the top abrasiveness saying everyone who defends Ventura is wrong- go sleep.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 6:47am

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