Sunday November 12 2017
Can Jorginho rescue Italy?

Italy look set to finally give Jorginho his competitive debut in the most dire of circumstances, writes Marco D’Onofrio.

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.

Have your say...
He's a player they should've capped ages ago, but yes even if he now plays, it's too late. Italy, I can believe, will not be in Russia next summer.

Ventura is the issue. Even if this team is average compared to Italian standards, they should be winning this playoff home and away. Not good even from Ventura, AND IF HE DID GET THEM THERE VIA A MIRACLE, HE SHOULD BE FIRED AND REPLACED, AND LET SARRI TAKE THEM TO THE TOURNAMENT, while still doing his job with Napoli of course.
on the 13th November, 2017 at 12:04am
Ventura should have been fired after the Spain debacle. It was there Ventura broke Italy's confidence. Now, he's putting Jorginho in an impossible situation not to mention it's not the optimal formation for him. And just to show how stubborn Ventura is to the point of hurting the NT, he won't even start Insigne to link up with Jorghino.


I can't believe I lived to witness the legendary Azzurri likely not make a World Cup.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:28pm
I don't want to be blowing the Napoli trumpet, but how can he not play Insigne...As a Napoli fan I've been critical of him in the past but lately really having a decent year.....was the difference when Napoli played Man City....I don't know, fingers X or as Anglo-Italian we may need to cheer on England....Maronn' a mia
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:27pm
I agree 100% with author that players are doing what coach is instructing them to do. All of theses players have a little bit of quality. It's the managers job to make them successful. Conte was able to get Pelle to score enough goals when he was our best option. It's Ventura's job now to break down swedens defense. Forza Azzurri!!!
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:07pm
Ventura shouldn't of been given the job in the first place. I really hope he doesn't go with the 424, it should be a 433 or 4312. Play to our strengths and hopefully we can get the job done and get to Russia. Missing it should not be how Buffon retires internationally.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:05pm
Questionable descent? He is an Italian by the letter of the law. Mario Balotelli was born in Italy. Will you be clamoring against Moises Kean and Ajapong next? Quit your xenophobia. There is no place for it in the world anymore.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 9:57pm
I believe that Jorginho will be Italy’s child
of destiny and lead Italy to victory tomorrow. One goal and at least one assist tomorrow. He has a point or prove tomorrow and will do just that. Ventura out on Tuesday!! Regardless of the result.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 9:51pm
I would like to know what all of you think of The Professor Luca Cigarini. Should he get a call up to bolster our midfield? Why is he ignored?
on the 12th November, 2017 at 9:35pm
Would he change his name to 'Giorgino' instead? For me, he should.

He is not the saviour of our squad, nevermind his questionable Italian descendence.

Again, there are people on this message board who see these players as 'fuoriclassi', which they are not. Balotelli for example SEEMS to be a great player, only because he is in a sea of mediocrity in Italy!

We simply don't have a generation of great players.
Outside of Italy, who knows this chap Jorgino?

It's a game of 11, not 1.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 9:33pm
Agreed! Bizarre how a defiant Ventura would not call up and play Jorginho vs Macedonia / Albania (we were useless in both games anyway) - and yet now he is relying on Jorginho. Roy "Ventura" Hodgson - is out of his depth tactically, selection-wise and in game management (opting to use only two subs in a 48 hour double header). Also with BBC, even in our friendlies they started and now he has no choice but rely on them, rather than giving Romagoli, Rugani and Caldara experience in those games.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 9:06pm

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