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Wednesday November 13 2019
Castrovilli's big break

Gaetano Castrovilli’s ascension from Serie B to the Italy squad has been a quick one. Kaustubh Pandey explains why the Fiorentina starlet is the real deal.

Gaetano Castrovilli’s Italy call-up was met by a sprouting of joy amongst the Azzurri faithful. There seems to be a collective admiration for the midfielder, whose graceful performances for Fiorentina this season have made a mark on more than just the Viola faithful.

In what is his first full campaign at the club, Castrovilli has come leaps and bounds in a very short space of time. He has left opposition teams rattled with his trickery, technical ability and how blessed he is on the ball.

These technical abilities stem from his adept dancing skills, which have helped the 22-year-old in his development. He has admitted to signing up to dance classes as a kid and, during a recent Press conference for Italy, he has already said he still practices his dancing skills in his spare time.

The system at Fiorentina has brought the best out of the player. The Viola struggled in their first few games of the season, but Vincenzo Montella has since settled on a unique 3-5-2 with two false nines in Franck Ribery and Federico Chiesa. This formation has transformed into a 3-4-1-2 more often than not, with Castrovilli playing behind the two quick forwards.

He has been given the freedom to move and use his impeccable technical abilities behind two very mobile strikers. Playing in the hole, Castrovilli has been tasked with pressing the opposition and coming deeper to squeeze the space they have in midfield. He cuts out passing lanes and his quickness on the ball allows him to speed up transitions and get the ball up to Ribery and Chiesa quickly.

He has completed an average of two tackles per game this season and has been fouled 2.3 times. Indeed, he likes to get stuck in and deny the opposition from building moves in the middle of the park.

His creativity has been able to thrive, too. For the Viola, Castrovilli has played the third-highest number of key passes per match (1.5). He has completed more dribbles than Ribery and Chiesa and is top of the table for that stat with 2.9. 

Playing slightly further up the pitch has unlocked his abilities to score and create. He has bagged three goals - against Milan, Sassuolo and Parma. Those strikes were the difference in two matches, even though the goal he scored against the Rossoneri only extended the lead.

He has also assisted twice. One of those assists came against Sassuolo and the second one came in the close 4-3 defeat to Napoli. 

In the first two appearances of 2019-20, Montella had gone with a 4-3-3 that saw Castrovilli play on the left side of the midfield. He wasn’t as impressive in that position, but the transition to 3-5-2 has worked wonders for the 22-year-old.

He has always possessed an attacking instinct, considering how he played out wide or behind the striker in his loan spell at Cremonese last season. During his loan stint at Bari, Castrovilli had even played as the defensive midfielder but was later used in multiple positions. And it shows how versatile and adaptable a player he is.

But being a dancer by nature, he can be a joy to watch in the final third. Montella has given him the confidence to shine as the regular player in that position, behind a fellow Fiorentina youth product and one of greats of the game. 

Castrovilli already admitted to having learnt a lot from the Frenchman. “He always suggests the best position or how to place my body so I am more aggressive towards someone in possession. He really is a guide, which is pretty incredible.”

It just shows what sort of impact Ribery has had on young players at the Artemio Franchi. His experience and understanding of the game has helped Castrovilli and Chiesa thrive, and the vibrancy he brings to the plate has made Fiorentina look like a side who play very attractive football on their day.

The jump from playing in Serie B for two consecutive seasons to getting picked for Italy is a huge one. Very few have managed to pull that off. But with the confidence of his coach, playing in the perfect system, Castrovilli has proved that he is the real deal. As things stand, little can hold the man from Canosa di Puglia back.

Have your say...
Also really hope Kean and Cutrone move back to Italy soon, their talent is wated at their clubs. Cutrone showed his quality last night against Iceland. Both players at club level aren't been given a chance. Kean should have gone to Ajax, the everton manager is clueless. Both players particularly Kean look short of confidence. Before moving to England both these players where real possibilities for the euros that now looks a long way off. Kean was playing more at Juventus than Everton, incredible
on the 17th November, 2019 at 12:18pm
I hope to see Castrovilli, Orsolini both play from the start also Sirigu in goal, with Romagnoli also playing. Also Chiesa from the start. I am predicting a 2-0 win with goals from Insigne and Chiesa.
on the 17th November, 2019 at 12:15pm
In response to "house party" I forgot to include Zaniolo. The other players you have mentioned all have potential but I think the next world cup is more likely for them. I believe these are exciting times going forward for us. We need to stay grounded and keep working hard. We have a united team and a manager that is really proving himself. Cant wait till tomorrow for Armenia match, its a joy to watch matches in this campaign, a long time since I have felt like that.
on the 17th November, 2019 at 12:12pm
Acerbi goal and performance the other night could well have booked his place for the summer. In response to "stevie" you are correct I am an ASR fan but my selections are purely based on what I feel is the best squad. Immobile has 8 goals in 38 games for Italy. Why would I include him in my squad he brings nothing to the table at all. Yes he scores loads in Serie A but isn't good enough at international level. The stats speak for themselves.
on the 17th November, 2019 at 12:08pm
@SDM
Cristante, Mancini, Florenzi - but no Acerbi or Ciru -

Delusional ASR supporter?
on the 15th November, 2019 at 4:18pm
@SDM
That is a strong looking squad. Even at Int-level. Its n exciting time 2 b an Italy fan. They've so much potential! I like how this squad has so many strong n varied characteristics. they've got tricky little pl yrs again like Sensi! Tonali who looks like he can do everything! I like Zaniolo who's a strong runner with the ball. Chiesa's pacey runs. Pellegrini's passing. Castrovilli's link-up play. Other's like Lu Pellegrini, Ranieri, Pinamonti etc could still yet break through as well!
on the 14th November, 2019 at 9:51pm
My squad if 30 if all fit: Donnarumma, Meret, Sirigu, Cragno, Bonucci, Chiellini, Caldara, Romagnoli, Emerson, Di Lorenzo, Florenzi, Biraghi, Mancini, Izzo
Jorginho, Barella, Verratti, Pellegrini, Cristane, Castrovilli, Tonali, Sensi, Bernardeschi, Orsolini
Balotelli, Insigne, Belotti, Chiesa, Kean,
Donnarumma or Caputo.

Any thoughts?
on the 14th November, 2019 at 1:47pm
"Franck Ribery... admitted to having learnt a lot from the World Cup-winning Frenchman"

Ribery has not won the world cup. Check your facts
on the 14th November, 2019 at 12:11am
I hope he continues to improve. Joy to watch.
on the 13th November, 2019 at 8:11pm

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