Tuesday May 29 2012
The Chosen Ones

From 32 to 25 to 23, sculptor Cesare Prandelli has chiselled his Italy squad for Euro 2012 into shape. Scott Fleming considers if it's a masterpiece or an eyesore.

So there we have it.

Seven Juventus players, four Milan, two representatives of Napoli, Roma and Paris Saint-Germain, and one each from Parma, Palermo, Bologna, Udinese, Torino and Manchester City.

These are the 23 men tasked with restoring a nation’s pride at Euro 2012 after “the most humiliating, mortifying page in the history books,” as Corriere dello Sport described Marcello Lippi's Italy showing at World Cup 2010.

Like a sculptor, Cesare Prandelli has chiselled away at his squad, and over the next few days the debate will rage as to whether what has been revealed is a masterpiece or an eyesore. In truth his final two omissions, announced this morning, were not especially controversial. Andrea Ranocchia made just 12 Serie A appearances for Inter during the season past and looked ungainly and unsure of himself in most of them. Mattia Destro had an excellent campaign in the provinces but aged 21 and with no senior international experience, his summons would have been a surprise. His time will surely come.

The controversy came yesterday, when a series of raids and arrests began with a 4am raid of Chievo captain Sergio Pellissier's property in Fenis and swept across the country. The most high profile and damaging intervention was the one made at Italy's Coverciano training base, where Domenico Criscito was informed that he is under investigation and had his room searched. The Zenit St Petersburg defender was later dropped from the squad.

It is a sad reflection of the current situation in Italy that a week before the European Championships commence more attention is being paid to the pronouncements of Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino than those made by Prandelli regarding his final 23.

However, even as headlines like 'Blitz at Coverciano' and 'National side in chaos' leap out from today's Corriere and Gazzetta dello Sport, the idea that the 'Last Bet' furore will have much of an adverse effect on the Azzurri squad is being dismissed. “It could push them to show the clean face of football,” commented Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni, whilst over 60 per cent of respondents to a poll on Gazzetta's website have agreed that the 2006 World Cup triumph proves 'these things cement a group'.

Therefore, our attention can return to personnel, and one of the first things to strike you on perusal of the final 23, is that it’s slightly lopsided. Assuming he persists with his favoured 4-3-1-2, Prandelli has broken the golden rule of having two players for every position, heading to Poland with just seven defenders to cover four positions and five forwards to fill two berths up front. In contrast, joint favourites Spain and Germany have selected only three forwards, but they both have an abundance of attacking midfield talent, whereas Italy are having to rely on the likes of Alessandro Diamanti and Emanuele Giaccherini in that area, a duo that were employed by Lega Pro clubs not so long ago.

That 4-3-1-2 assumption could be a dangerous one though, as the clamour for Prandelli to introduce a 3-5-2 alternative grows in strength. Not only is it a formation the Juventus contingent found success with domestically, it’s also the system Diamanti, Sebastian Giovinco, Federico Balzaretti and Christian Maggio played in for their respective clubs this season.

Criscito could hardly be described as a key player but had performed well throughout qualifying and may well have been Prandelli's first choice left back during the competition if not for yesterday’s events. In his absence, the versatility of centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Angelo Ogbonna, who can both play left-back if required, could be significant.

Mimmo aside, none of the seven cuts made yesterday were surprising, or unjust. The likes of Marco Verratti simply weren't ready. Instead, if La Nazionale fail to progress from Group C, the focus will fall on those that Prandelli didn't even deem worthy of his provisional 32. Alberto Aquilani, Simone Pepe, Giampaolo Pazzini and Alessandro Matri, to name a few.

Fabio Quagliarella didn't have the best of seasons but may be perturbed to see that he isn't considered amongst Italy's top five strikers, and Fabio Borini is, especially given his spectacular but sadly futile contribution against Slovakia in Johannesburg two years ago. Then again, a youngster desperate to make his name, and who the opposition are less familiar with, is a valuable weapon at major tournaments.

Have your say...
Viktor you can talk with your Rossoneri tinted glasses on, but after Maggio's performance I'll agree with you on that score.
on the 2nd June, 2012 at 12:38am
and thats why you should pick Abate over Maggio and let Noccerino play.
on the 1st June, 2012 at 9:37pm
@Onofrio Sanfilippo

How bout the entire Juve team represent Italy instead. Be more biased? Geez

In with Abate, Noccerino, and Cassano ..SIMPLE
on the 1st June, 2012 at 5:12pm
What's the fascination with Montolivo playing behind the strikers!

He's scored 4 goals & only assisted 4 times this season!

Giovinco has scored 16 and assisted 11 and Cassano despite his long lay off has scored 4 goals and assisted 10 times (aswell as scoring 6 goals in qualification)

If he's gonna line up with a 4-3-1-2 on Fri, taking into account our current injuries, the team should be



De Rossi


Di Natale
on the 31st May, 2012 at 2:14pm
Starting lineup should be (what a shame there's no Giuseppe Rossi)....


Bonucci Barzagli
Maggio Chiellini


Nocerino Marchisio


on the 31st May, 2012 at 11:56am
i do trust Prandeli's selection, he has played all the games in mind to the final, that is why he ended up with the selected 23.
He knows whta to be awer of, great squad but comperations are needless time 2 time again...
Best difens, Pirlo 2me is the best with Xavi,
Giovinco will suprise all of us w/ Cassano & co up front
well done, cant wait:-}
Whos got beter???
on the 30th May, 2012 at 11:45pm
Am a big fan of super mario bt I tink I prefer di-natale in front with cassano and giovinco. Natale is a goal getter who has a chance of scoring in everygame. As a milan fan, av seen abate make some premature mistakes in defence so I go for maggio bt am apy foR ignazio cos he deserves d call. Forza azzuri
on the 30th May, 2012 at 9:17pm
I just don't know? Lippi also left for S.Africa 2010 with 7 juventus players??
Chiellini and Bonucci had an absolute nightmare and along with an ageing De Rossi,
all three were responsible for Italy's early exit- what international defence concedes a goal
from a throw-in(Slovakia)? None- only Sunday league!!

Chiellini is a great defender, I still remember the game of his life(so far)- Italy against Spain
at Euro2008- AMAZING!!

on the 30th May, 2012 at 5:48pm

Abate is a bit dodgy defensively mate. Don't get me wrong, I've rated him since his U21 days when he was a Winger and he's become a much better player now as a full back. However it's a close call, but Maggio is stronger defensively.

I have always rated Nocerino too, as a Juve fan I was gutted and perplexed at why we sold him, but he's no De Rossi, we need an experienced head in midfield. When De Rossi keeps it simple he's superb, box to box and breaks up play along with the best around
on the 30th May, 2012 at 4:24pm
@ Onofrio Sanfilippo

There is NO way that under the current form we have right now you'd have Maggio instead of Abate.

I understand De rossi is popular but dude cmon, Noccerino's season was incredible, and without a doubt the signing of the season.
on the 30th May, 2012 at 3:23pm
How can you say that Italy's defense has less quality than before?
I understand that Nesta is out and Zambrotta, but look at the 3 Juve boys' season. 20 goals in 38 matches is immensely impressive!
In fact, I'd rate Italy's defense the best of the tournament.
I'm confident that the one thing Italy can actually rely on, is a strong defense and, if it comes to that, one of THE best keepers in the game.
See how Italy looks strong when Juve is strong? Take note Milan.
on the 30th May, 2012 at 11:49am

Buffon/De Sanctis/Sirigu


De Rossi/Nocerino

(Cassano/Giovinco can play in the hole or wide left in a 4-3-3)

Di Natale/Borini

This shows the squads potential, the alternatives in a 3-5-2 will also be vast. In a 4-4-2 Giacherrini & Abate can be considered for the wings too.
on the 30th May, 2012 at 10:12am
I would have liked Destro to have stayed but otherwise, he has picked a very good squad and more so than others Italian sides, Prandelli has picked the best players available.

Montolivo is getting a lot of criticism but he has played some good games for the Azzurri, providing some good assists. I wouldn't drop him because of the fiasco Fiorentina is in now.
on the 30th May, 2012 at 10:02am
I think Matri deserved a chance, he showed he can score crucial goals for example 2 (1 disallowed) at San Siro
on the 30th May, 2012 at 5:29am
Montolivo was a No No.... Any Calcio watching person would tell you, promising former youngster that's living off the past hype... Only got a deal with a major Italian team cos there was no fee involved...

Offers the squad NOTHING!!!!! Would rather of seen Parolo or even the young verratti to give him a first hand look at what goes on at a major tournament!
on the 30th May, 2012 at 4:44am
Really good squad. I don't think I have any problems with it. Maybe Cigarini deserved a shot. But, an attack with Balotelli,Giovinco,and Cassano sounds pretty good. I think the defense may turn out to be most problematic. Italy's defense doesn't have the same quality as before. Midfield will have to compensate.
on the 30th May, 2012 at 4:33am
If Diamanti is not in the starting 11 that would be a shame. The man make thing happen, hard nosed play maker..
on the 30th May, 2012 at 4:12am
I really love the squad. I think Prandelli has not shut any doors when it comes to formation. He fan easily play any of 4-3-1-2 3-5-2 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. I also think that some of the players not deemed good enough to start like Diamanti, Giaccherrini, and Di Natale can provide a big spark off the bench and be game breakers for 15-30 minutes.
on the 30th May, 2012 at 4:02am
With as much skill Balotelli has, I fear him having one of his moments and leaving the Azzurri to 10 men. I hope he proves me wrong.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 11:12pm
The problem with Cassano is that he doesn't score enough goals like the other number 10s we have had before like Totti n Del Piero or Baggio. Nonetheless I think balotelli n Cassano can form a good partnership because Cassano can put the ball on balotelli's foot. Giovinco will b a surprise. He has the ability to score more goals than Cassano n is very good a free kicks but it's important to see if he can step up to the big stage. A real test of character for him. Forza Italia!
on the 29th May, 2012 at 10:08pm
1994:Azzurri World cup finalist
2000: Azzurri Euro finalist
2006: Azzurri World Champions
2012: Azzurri Euro Champions
on the 29th May, 2012 at 9:49pm
If you compare this squad to that of 2010, it is simply marvelous. We may not be the finished article although we might be by 2014. So please stop jibber-jabbering about Pepe, Quags, chocolate leg and Pazzo. Forza Azzurri
on the 29th May, 2012 at 8:44pm
I have absolute faith in Parandelli cause of how he transformed Azzuri to modern football. So Italy should play 3-5-2.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 8:11pm
Use Noccerino.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 7:51pm
I just hope that one match against Russia will be enough for the team to bind.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 7:10pm
The chosen squad might be very different to the other European nations. But it's very interchanageable and it has players in there who know how to win the Italian style. Mr B upfront will show the world how good he is and Mr Gigi in goal I think Italy will be underestimated as in 2006 and do well! Forza Auzzuri
on the 29th May, 2012 at 6:08pm
I think this squad will perform well, or they'll forever look disjointed as they did against the USA. I'm leaning that they'll do well. I think our weak-point is the attack as it's questionable how Giovinco and Borini can impact on the international stage. I'm far more optimistic than I was in 2010.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 5:50pm
No real suprises for me, from a personal point of view im dissapointed Luca Cigarini didnt make the 23 as im a big fan of his ability. There is genuine optimism about the Azzurri's chances unlike 2 years ago. The midfield 4 of Pirlo, Marchisio, De Rossi and Giovinco is equal to anything that Spain/Germany can field. My only concern is the strikers. Cassano and Balotelli are fantastic options, but both are prone to commit a costly immature moment of madness.

Anyway 10 days to go and i cant wait.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 5:38pm
i think Prandeli should go for the 3-5-2 not because Juve was successful with it but because he will use the full width of the pitch.




on the 29th May, 2012 at 4:55pm
I was surprised for not including Pepe in the squad. The Azzurri needs someone like him. I think he could have been benefitial.

I would take Borini out and replace him with Quagliarella too.
on the 29th May, 2012 at 4:53pm

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