Tuesday May 29 2018
No nuance for the Nazionale

Roberto Mancini won his debut and Mario Balotelli scored on his comeback, but Susy Campanale felt it just confirmed people are never happy with Italy.

As with most Italy games, Roberto Mancini’s debut was greeted with a mixture of over-excited mania and doom-laden despair, but very little in-between. It’s the first friendly match of a new era, at the end of a long season with no World Cup to look forward to and at a time when all the players just want to go on vacation. Don’t expect the moon.

Mario Balotelli returns after four years of being inexplicably not even called up and within 20 minutes has found the net. He works hard, has several more chances, provides a great through ball that Alessandro Florenzi fails to make the most of and even apologises when accidentally clattering an opponent. He goes off after an hour due to a muscular problem and the reaction to his performance is along the usual party lines.

Those who have been calling for Balo’s inclusion for months, even years, are shouting from the rooftops that Italy would’ve been packing their bags for Russia right now if they had only picked the Nice striker during qualifying. The usual gang who call him a disgrace to the Azzurri jersey view it as a lazy display, doing the bare minimum against a poor Saudi team, not celebrating and mumbling through the national anthem. Both are, in my humble view, wrong.

Balotelli is a very good striker, no doubt about it, but there were fundamental problems within Giampiero Ventura’s side that needed a lot more than a hitman to solve them. He did what he had to do against Saudi Arabia who, poor or not, are going to the World Cup while we’re trying to decide who to support or whether to even bother watching the tournament at all. I don’t really see what more he could’ve done in the time on the field.

While SuperMario is the lightning rod for the Azzurri, he’s not the only one who prompts this all or nothing response. Lorenzo Insigne is either hero or villain, the best player on the pitch or the most useless waste of space, and never the twain shall meet. Gianluigi Donnarumma is a victim of media bias or an hyped up child in over his head.

Somewhat inevitably, much of the adoration or criticism of these players is influenced by club allegiance and that is the main problem Italy face.

Right now, the Italian Government is non-existent after talks to form a coalition broke down. Again. And again. This is not a united country. People would rather argue and blame each other than try to find solutions to common goals, or God forbid acknowledge the other side had done something right. It’s no different in Italian football and the partisan nature of the analysis to any Azzurri match is frankly unhelpful.

Mancini had his first game in charge and actually won his debut, something that only Antonio Conte had managed out of the last eight Italy tacticians. He tried to spark a generational shift with the youngest starting XI since November 2010, coming in at an average age of 26 years and eight days. Still he is criticised in some quarters for a “disgraceful” 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia, while others declare it the dawn of a new era just days before facing a far tougher test with France.

Unless we in the media, and the fans, find some semblance of balance and realism, we’ll never be happy with the Azzurri or help them to improve.

Have your say...
Well said Suzy. It's time to get behind this team thick or thin and support the rebuilding. 90% of this team had nothing to do with the failure and it's unfair to them to continue to bash performances. They need time to gel. The expectations are unrealistic and club allegiances for the national team need to be checked at the door.
on the 1st June, 2018 at 4:42am
Also 'quick touches' and 'chemistry'... it was Saudi Arabia not Germany or France!
I don't care about Mancini CV, i am bothered that he came in stuck Balotelli in the team and started the whole Balotelli show all over again. He was always goimg to score- it was Saudi Arabia, and those complaining about Belotti were silenced coz he scored too so no argument that Balotelli was the missing piece of the puzzle.
on the 31st May, 2018 at 1:56pm
Balotelli is a failure, his name shouldnt be in the same sentence as Baggio in any context.
I look at the whole Balotelli package and i see wasted time in the years before his 1 great goal against Germany and the time we wasted after waiting for this world class talent to do something more than moan and walk about like a little princess. How long have we wasted waiting for Balo?
Baggio is and was the complete professional from start to finish on and off the pitch. No comparison.
on the 31st May, 2018 at 1:50pm
That alone gives me optimism. He way they played against SA was better than any game they’ve played under Ventura. Quick touches and much more adventurism and chemistry amongst the attackers. Other than same mistakes by Zappacosta and Criscito they played well. Doesn’t matter the opponents. Other nazionali with legends have had worse results. Italy has never been consistent in beating small teams or by scoring 5 plus goals a games we bring a different mentality to the game.
on the 31st May, 2018 at 6:53am
To Jenks and all the people praising him. By your logic of Balotelli being a failure then Baggio must be a failure for not playing well in the 94 final. Mazzola and Rica failed in the 70 final. Totti was a short in the 06 final. Pirlo, De Rossi and Cassano were all there in 2012 are they failures too???

Mancini was the best choice available. You can’t speak down to people who are optimistic because he doesn’t have the best resume. Neither did Bearzot!! Mancini too a massive pay cut....
on the 31st May, 2018 at 6:51am
It's one game where Saudi Arabia was almost completely outplayed all game and there is far too many whiney babies crying already. Why don't you babies go cheer Germany already and leave the team alone to build on one measly game. Wait and see what comes of this after the league of nations. Mancini deserves these friendlies and a meaningless tournament like that to be judged on. Give us all a break from your crying.
on the 31st May, 2018 at 3:20am
We would not have automatically been placed with Germany in Swedens absence, that's no guarantee. To Tino Baggio, Italy has scored more than 4 goals in games, just mostly friendlies. 4 goal games are not the norm in tournaments, and certainly almost never happen in knockouts. Germany Brazil last world cup was an exception to that rule. It doesn't matter if you score 4, 5, or 6 goals, it just matters that you win and Italy pull through in knock outs. We just don't remember them recently.
on the 31st May, 2018 at 3:18am
Mine are only BEST SCENARIO examples.

At least we DO have the managers, the players to do well, a fair aspiration up to a quarter finalist position.

Then if we don't pick the best, it's another story.

Very briefly, Conte has performed miracles at Juventus, alas he wants to call the shots and that creates aggro.
With Italy he had clashes that then forced him to go elsewhere.
on the 31st May, 2018 at 1:30am
Time to reset the Nazionale and go fwd.
- Yes Mancini was 2nd choice.
- Yes we do not have any superstars like in past that could create magic alla Baggio, Del Piero.
- Yes we will be reliant on a mature/not mature Balotelli
- Yes Calcio Italia stresses only tactics and not pure skills We can bemoan all this & be the constant irritant in the proverbial team's side or get out of the way and let them try to gel & create something for 2020 Euros. Overall team grit & determination will be only way
on the 30th May, 2018 at 5:06pm
The fact is that we need to start caring about friendlies, and who we play in them. By playing Saudi Arabia, and winning we picked up 367 points. Losing to France and Holland does us no good, we get 0 points. We need to do what others are doing and carefully pick our opponents for friendlies and stop being so arrogant about them. If we were seeded for the qualifiers, we would be at this world cup, no doubt in my mind.
on the 30th May, 2018 at 2:24pm
Amazing some of the stuff I read here. It was a friendly, yes. But some of the posts exemplify the malaise with the FIGC. "It's hard to care when it doesn't count". I hate to tell you this people, but this is the reason we are in this mess. If we played the right teams in friendlies and cared about them, we would have been a seeded team in the Qualifiers. Instead we have a bad attitude about it and drop games, picking up zero points. Continued
on the 30th May, 2018 at 2:19pm
How stupid you can to blame a scorer against Germany, Jenks?

You blamed on Conte is right though.
on the 30th May, 2018 at 11:51am
Actually, you are wrong Italy are united against the EU and the %star and Leauge did have an alliance but the EU does not want and anti-establishment government Ital exit to occur. The globalist commie EU will crumble it Italy leave and they must!
on the 30th May, 2018 at 10:36am
Bit of a stupid statement. I mean put SA in the group italy had to qualify from and they wouldnt have even got to play offs!
Italy not qualifying is embarrassing and total failure. SA qualifying is in itself a miracle but with the teams they were up against there is no comparison at all.
With the World cup group they are in they'll be home before you know it...
on the 30th May, 2018 at 9:59am
@ Jenks
If only Messi's grandparents stayed in Ancona? Thats fine but they didnt. They left and Messi turned his back on an Italian invitation.

If Rossi scored and didnt limp off then maybe he would be playing instead of Balotelli but like you said hes injury prone. I dont think anyone has said Balotelli is some kinda wonder kid but he is scoring. when the time comes that he doesnt and pulls a huff then he can gtf like anyone else. wasnt that evident from previous comments.
on the 30th May, 2018 at 9:49am
what puzzles me is that you lads in here give a quick statement about national team future, wow! why don’t you roll up your sleeves and take over as CT as you are all experts in football! from what I know a project needs some time then to evaluate the situation after in real perspective. I would recommend you people to wait a bit to witness fruitful results or not! let us all hope for a new dawn so Italian football rise again. Thank you!
on the 30th May, 2018 at 7:46am
Tino Baggio,

I don't know what you and others see in this unstable guy.

If Pepito Rossi wasn't prone to injury we wouldn't be debating this. So technically Balo is not the best we have. If he is, then we are in WORSE shape than we thought. And Euro 2012? He failed in that final!
No point getting to a FINAL without even one goal for our dignity from this 'Super Mario'. Same for WC 2014 vs Costa Rica.

Something's wrong with Mancini. He fought with Balo at Man City all the time!
on the 30th May, 2018 at 2:47am
Just to let you know, the world cup is not the 32 best teams in the world. World cup ratings only matter when you are being seeded for qualification. Italy is ranked 20th.A real world cup would take the top 32 teams.
on the 30th May, 2018 at 2:43am
Oh Tino,

If only Messi's paternal grandparents had stayed in Ancona. We'd have him now, with us, instead of er, what's his face from Nice.

Argentina always get the real gems. We don't even get the leftovers.
on the 30th May, 2018 at 2:29am
@ Jenks - Italy has never scored 4 in a game never mind 5,6,7. Not in the Baggio era & nor have they ever wanted to. Its why when ever Italy play pundits say that Italy 'just do enough' to win.

If last nights performance is all Balo has to offer then ill eat my words again and go back to vilifying him but if he scores goals like how he did in the Euros 2012 ( I dont know what tourny you watched but he helped take us to the final ) then id rather take that rather than his absence.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 10:10pm
To all these idiots

complaining about SA being inferior opponents SA is going to worldcup You are not thats what reality is Thats where you belong
on the 29th May, 2018 at 9:35pm
Thank goodness for Jenks.
I agree 100%. Balo is no saviour. Bet he gets a red card in the next 2 games. That will bring everyone back down to earth.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 8:33pm
Roberto Baggio writes: "While I agree that Ballotelli is vilified, its only because we know he has the quality to give more" What a statement! He HAS given his utmost already - when he failed at Euro 2012 and vs Costa Rica in 2014. Where were you? How long should we wait for him to mature? He's a star in a league of wash-ups and unknowns, just like Verratti! 
on the 29th May, 2018 at 5:56pm
Dear Carpe Diem and Roberto Baggio (please Baggio, change your profile name),

Better you forget about Conte. The man cost us the WC qualification because of his greed. May he perish in PSG. He would NEVER call up 'Balo'. A 70% Pepito Rossi is worth a lot more in a WC tourney. That is more realistic.

If you think this kid has matured, you're all in for a shock. Balo is an over-hyped walking Red Card.

You people never learn, and neither did the Federation in hiring Mancini.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 5:40pm
Saudi Arabia? Many moons ago we would have blasted a squad like that 5, 6 or 7 - 0. The Nazionale WAS the crown jewel of our sport. Now Balo is the savior?

No, I am NOT happy. Two WC crashes and now no Russia (who should not host anyway).

Glad to see there still remain a few on this board who realise that Mancini as manager will be a disaster. Someone who calls up that overrated Nice striker clearly understands LITTLE about football. Mancini's CV says it all. He will be a Prandelli 2.0.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 5:33pm
Watching the Pirlo testimonial the creative skills of Totti, Cassano, ADP, Pirlo and the sniper skills of Inzaghi and Vieri and the presence of Baggio make me wonder is anyone there to take over the creative and sniper roles. If Insigne fails to perform think it’s time to bring back Giovinco. As for the snipers Balotelli performs for the national side forget his team performances. Remember Baggio performed on the national level Zola more for his club team. Giovinco and Balo time
on the 29th May, 2018 at 4:31pm
Decent game. Right attitude and approach from the team. Pellegrini and Politano though have to improve their quality. Young players but Italy cant build a strong future team around players with only average quality. This is not something that Mancini can fix at this level they should already have it.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 2:53pm
It's been a tough year for all Italy fans(even harder if you're also a Juve supporter)and watching Lucky Madrid win the CL was also a bitter pill to swallow (although I don't buy the belief that Ronaldo or the cheating Ramos were Lucky Madrid's star men of the tournament; that honour should surely go to Michael Oliver?).But I see a chink of light in the horizon so let's try to hang onto a positive and hope we can reach the top once more with a team that excites and delivers at the highest level.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 2:46pm
Stop with the Italy no talent train. Only a handful of top nations have a better talent pool than Italy atm; France, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany.

Balo, Belotti, Immobile, Cutrone are competitive striking options.
Insigne, Bernadeschi, Chiesa, Verdi are promising wide men.
A midfield of Jorginho, Verratti, and Cristante/Bonaventura could play some seriously good football.
Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rugani, Caldara competing for CB, all playing for top teams.

Donna, Perin, Consigli, etc...
on the 29th May, 2018 at 1:31pm
I think you will find most countries have unrealistic expectations of their national teams i guess in italy case they have won the world cup 4 times they could be accused of being victims of own their success.

There is the potential for success with this group of players but for one reason or the other a lack of realisation of their ability.
on the 29th May, 2018 at 12:52pm

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