It is utterly ridiculous that Giampiero Ventura waited a year and a half into his tenure with the national team to call-up Jorginho, and even more embarrassing that he opted to play Lorenzo Insigne in the midfield in the second half of Friday’s 1-0 World Cup play-off defeat to Sweden instead of Europe's most accurate passer.
The tactician was so adamant though that he didn't require a 'regista' that now with the threat of the Italians missing out on the game's most prestigious tournament for the first time since 1958, he needs the Napoli man more than ever.
Looking for a little divine intervention, Ventura knows the reputations of both the country and himself will be on the line when the Azzurri take the pitch on Monday for the critical showdown against Sweden. With no other option than to get the job done, the tactician may need to finally listen to his plethora of critics and utilise one of the best midfielders on the peninsula – especially with Marco Verratti out suspended.
Jorginho was hugely influential for a Napoli side that finished with 94 goals in the Italian top flight last year – four more than any other team – and they are on pace to find the back of the net even more frequently this season, as they currently sit atop the table. The 25-year-old has captivated onlookers across Europe for his pristine passing accuracy, frequently completing more than 150 passes in a single game for his club side.
But why would the Italians need a player like that anyway?
Against Sweden, the midfield trio of Verratti, Daniele De Rossi, and Marco Parolo were unable to provide the much-needed creative spark that was expected from them. Instead, they looked lacklustre and visionless. This is not completely their fault though, as the direction given from their Coach often seemed muddled at best. Insigne was asked to replace Verratti off the bench, but looked out of place and confused playing in a position that he was not accustomed to.
Jorginho could help to unlock a Swedish side that will surely look to come to San Siro and batten down the hatches. Confident after their clean sheet in the first leg, the Swedes know that they can bully the Azzurri with their size advantage and that an away goal could be all they need to book their spot on the plane to Russia next summer.
The Azzurri will need to score goals – multiple goals – and while Jorginho only has one himself this season, he could be the man to lift his teammates when they need it the most.
While it is unfortunate that Jorginho may finally get the shot he deserves in the most desperate of circumstances, it is still better now than never. It has become abundantly clear that after the loss to Spain in Madrid, Ventura should have experimented with the Napoli midfielder for the final two group matches against Macedonia and Albania with not too much left to play for - they needed to secure their spot in the World Cup qualifying play-off, but that never should have been a problem given the inferior opposition they were up against.
With every game that passes under the Ventura regime, it becomes increasingly evident that Italy lack an identity and cohesive game plan. While Jorginho isn't the saviour, he could be the maestro that the Italians have missed since the days of Andrea Pirlo.
Jorginho finally getting the nod in Ventura's starting XI on Monday may still not be enough for the Azzurri to escape from the dire situation they find themselves in, but at least it's a step in the right direction.