Monday June 11 2012
Stick or twist with De Rossi?

Daniele De Rossi impressed as a defender against Spain, but, as David Swan asks, where should he be fielded against Croatia?

Given their less than ideal build-up to Euro 2012, it is difficult to view Italy’s 1-1 draw with Spain as anything other than a success. The most important aspect of the game, perhaps more than the result, was the performance of the 3-5-2 against a top side. In that respect, playing Spain first has been timely – no other outfit will expose flaws like the team that has dominated international football for the past four years.

And there can be no doubt that there were flaws, but Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli is in the interesting position of having to learn on the fly – he has not used a 3-5-2 at any stage during his tenure, and so he will be seeing these problems for the first time during matches, meaning solutions are going to be devised mid-tournament between games.

That said, for large parts of the game Italy competed very well. Spain won the possession battle, as they usually do, but the Azzurri were not totally dominated. They created chances both sides of the break, despite obviously tiring towards the end of the game. Claudio Marchisio and Thiago Motta supported the forwards well, with both having opportunities to score, and Christian Maggio improved on the shambles of his Russia efforts.

Daniele De Rossi deserves a special mention – to shift into a central defensive role against players of this class and perform as he did was a large reason that he and his team came away with a draw. Although he was not quite the rampaging libero many would have hoped, he was a vital option in possession, and allowed Andrea Pirlo to operate just that little bit further forward, safe in the knowledge he was going to receive the ball.

It allowed Pirlo to make a short burst forward to set up Antonio Di Natale in the second half – something that probably would not have happened in a 4-3-1-2, and without De Rossi behind him.

The Roma man was also central to some of the flaws Spain easily exposed with the simple introduction of a striker. First and foremost is that he is not a defender – this was clear when he had to directly match up to a striker with quality and who knew what he was doing, albeit one that could not take the chances he was given.

Italy are unlikely to come up against another side in the tournament that do not play with a striker, certainly the Republic of Ireland and Croatia will start with one, and even if they met Spain again – which can only happen in the Final – you would have to imagine Vicente Del Bosque will learn from this game and play Fernando Torres from the beginning. Had he done so on Sunday, the result could well have been different.

It is a conundrum for Prandelli – De Rossi was superb on the ball, but looked every inch the midfielder out of position against a top striker. A genuine central defender would have a better chance of dealing with Torres, and the plethora of tricky opponents Italy could encounter further down the line, but will not offer his quality in possession.

Torres also brought a second problem to Prandelli’s attention – with a striker to occupy De Rossi, he did not see anywhere near as much of the ball, and any semblance of control Italy had disappeared. Spain’s domination increased, aided by fatiguing Italians, Pirlo dropped deeper, and they resorted to a pseudo-Napoli style of football, which in many ways is the complete opposite of the Prandelli ideal.

That is something the Coach must solve before Thursday’s match against Croatia. Italy will lose out if De Rossi cannot get on the ball, and it practically negates everything useful that comes with deploying him there instead of a real central defender. Just when Italy think they have the answers, Spain change the questions.

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Have your say...
DDR will be exposed by better strikers so when Barzagli comes back, DDR needs to move.
I'm glad people here can see that we lost possession because at the end, all of a sudden the midfielders stopped working... tired or strategically, we were going to defend the tie. In any case, on other forums, people complain that we lost possession because of Di Natale and Giovinco... they should re-watch the match. If one or both of them can start against Croatia, we have a better chance of scoring.
on the 14th June, 2012 at 8:23am
@Xavi, I agree completely. Spain and Italy always give each other complete respect. Even though Italy hasn't been a powerhouse in recent years, Spain aren't foolish enough to treat them lightly and even in '94 when Italy had a much stronger squad then Spain, the Italians knew they were in for a big game. The famous Tassotti/Enrique elbow. Neither team will underestimate the other no matter what the FIFA rankings say.
on the 12th June, 2012 at 5:25pm
a dire over negative evaluation of the game. obviously a spain fan. italy were fantastic. ask the spanish team and del bosque. spain, i thought, looked pretty awful. but i think it was italy that made them look like that. enjoyed the respect between teams. something the fans of each could learn. you rarely see such respect given to one another. spain was amazed at italy's ability to counter everything they did. if not for giach's small slip, and he was great generally, spain would have lost.
on the 12th June, 2012 at 2:31pm
what a novice observer of football...torres chances came to him because the game opened up...not only did torres have several chances, so did di natale...if torres was fielded earlier, it actually would have helped de rossi...without a striker, he was forced to step up into the midfield which create lanes for the spanish wingers...but the italian defense didnt collapse...
on the 12th June, 2012 at 1:56pm
Italy conceded when the midfielders stopped working, thats why they couldn't stop Torres. DDR played well as a central defender but I would prefer seeing him in midfield. Balo did well, not his best performance but he can improve and should start the next game.

Changes I would make against Croatia is DDR in place of Motta, Ogbonna in central defence and Abate in place of Giaccherini.

Quite interesting on BBC, they were impressed by the Azzurri display who is normally their harshest critics.
on the 12th June, 2012 at 11:36am
Ogbonna may as well have been left at home DDR will keep his place he is playing well at the back, Italy should stick with 3-5-2 against Croatia same team line up Di Natale perhaps could start but he had good impact from bench as did Giovinco Balzaretti is also good enough to start, it will be interesting to see what happens.. Be nice to win and then rest a couple against Ireland
on the 12th June, 2012 at 10:18am
i never like DDR as a midfielder but i like him as a centreback.. he was great against spain so CP has to stick to that and play him in CD again.. FORZA ITALIA **** (Kneel Down & Kiss The Four Stars)
on the 12th June, 2012 at 6:18am
Maybe they should put Chiellini back in the middle and try Ogbonna on the left. I know its not ideal, but Ogbonna did well in that position against the U.S. De Rossi may not be able to deal with an actual striker.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 10:15pm
De Rossi should remain depender for ever not only because of his perfomance against Spain but also of his ability to do that. Furthermore, Italy and Roma will benefit his transformation. To Italy it will balance its midfield by making room for T. Motta or Nocerino. And to Roma that will help them to solve their depence crisis. Forza Italy.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 8:07pm
i think its a very good idea using derossi as a play starter it gives us a ball player when teams mark pirlo. i think prandelli will start with balzaretti on the left hes better at defending as the croatians will try to cross the ball to there big forwards. Very good performance last night, was nice to see us with thr right mentality and if we get out the group we will start peaking physically aswell. FORZA ITALIA!!!!!!!
on the 11th June, 2012 at 7:46pm
De rossi MOTM.I prefer him in Midfield. The 352 was the correct line up against Spain with no striker. With a striker one player should be nominated as a marker with the other 2 disiplined enough not to come out and ensuring the midfield cover the gap that was often left between the defence &Midfiled. This was something Spain exploited when Torres came on and the Azzurri midfield tired. Would start with the same line up & Formation but must be able to alter when tiredness sets in. Forza Italia
on the 11th June, 2012 at 7:13pm
I think this analysis of De Rossi is correct. I thought he looked shaky, especially after the introduction of Torres. De Rossi is better in midfield...though I think Nocerino could play alongside Pirlo and Marchisio too as he provides more grit and has proven he can also get goals. If we stick with the 3-5-2, we have no choice but to stick with De Rossi in defense until Barzagli is fit again. But I would consider switching to a 4-3-3 against Croatia.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 6:28pm
Iniesta won the Carlsburg man of the match award, but according to UEFA, Marchisio out performed everyone on the pitch and was the Castrol Edge motm. Statistically speaking, Marchisio had two shots on target (more than any of his team mates). One of which was that powerful left footed volley. He also assisted his team mates in defense, and recovered possession very effectively. And his workrate should also be highlighted, as only Giaccherini covered more of the pitch than him. Very impressive.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 6:24pm
I have to question Prandelli's choices. What's the point of bringing Ogbonna into the setup if you aren't going to use him - instead putting a midfielder in defense. If he wasn't happy with Ogbonna, he should have brought Astori or Ranocchia.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 5:25pm
Hrant has an interesting point. If any of you used to watch Inter, the 70-minute point was usually when Motta would start to fade/stop running. Plus, Pirlo isn't exactly known for his high levels of energy. So you combine two midfielders starting to slow down with the sudden introduction of a lightning-fast forward, and DDR has problems.

I thought DDR did a magnificent job as CB though, and as long as Prandelli keeps an eye on when the mids start to tire, I see no reason not to keep him there.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 4:47pm
can i just say off the point slightly but how harsh have critics been to balotelli, i mean seriusly did anyone see the game?? ok he got booked but overall he worked 10 times harder then cassano (who actually did nothing whatso ever) and even harder then giovinco and di natale (who i am a big fan of) but these are players suppose to work hard for a start yet none of them came close to balo closing down and work rate (which he actually did for once).
on the 11th June, 2012 at 4:41pm
DeRossi was superb in defense and while his overcommitment in a few instances provided Spain with a few opportunities, he had a great work rate and physciality for the azzurri. His services in the rearguard will be greatly needed until Barzagli is healthy.
Lineup vs. Croatia
Bonucci DeRossi Chiellini
Maggio Motta Pirlo Nocerino Marchisio (Balzaretti)
Cassano Balotelli (Giovinco, Di Natale)
on the 11th June, 2012 at 4:03pm
this is a relatively newer/modern idea. 3 at the back with a play-starter center back. de rossi and prandelli said, he links the defense and the midfield. he is much deeper lying player maker. he is a ball holder that starts the moments with short and long pin point passing to begin the attack. seems like the role could only be played by de rossi because of his certain qualities and characteristics. if italy won 1-0, would this have been called a genius idea?! does make you think now...
on the 11th June, 2012 at 3:59pm
I think a four man defense would work much better. Chellini is much better in the center, and this is where he wants to play.

and yes Balotelli has to play, his movement is too valuable.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 1:33pm
Very good piece, and I agree with each point (boring comment).

I also thought many of De Rossi's tackles were lunges and high-risk, though, this could be levied at the entire back line. Before Torres came on his diagonal balls to Giaccherini and occasionaly Maggio were exceptional.

It will be very interesting to see what Prandelli does with De Rossi in the next game.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 1:32pm
Motta requested the transfer himself.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 1:15pm
My team to line up against Croatia


Bonucci (Eventually to be replaced by Barzagli upon his return)
De Rossi

Maggio (One more chance before Abate's introduction, but only because he's more used to playing a 3-5-2 than Abate)

Balotelli (One more chance before Di Natale's introduction, his work rate deserved it and hopefully he'll have more freedom against Croatia to show what he can do)
on the 11th June, 2012 at 1:04pm
A good result for Italy. I thought the analysis of De Rossi performance is flawed. He needs to play in the middle. De Rossi should not be marking a striker. He makes rash challenges when he should be shielding the ball. He will be more effective in the middle. Marchisio and Giaccherini were poor
Thankfully the Spainish manager got his tactics completely wrong and it was possible for Italy to win this game, as they had 4 clear chances before Torres came on. Next two games will be harder.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 12:52pm
Spain never had the answers through the game.. U saw motta stopped running n that's the reason he was replaced last 2 minutes ,pirlo got tired .. Gaiccherini had to cover up an help chellini cuz of navas' pace.. So it opened up a bit for torres and his pace to beat de-rossi twice.. I wud stick to this formation through the tournament.. Derossi was like a cannavaro of 2006.. Forza italia..
on the 11th June, 2012 at 12:43pm
i think de rossi did really well but i would rather see him sit in front of the back three with Ogbonna taking CB role, i think this will give italy strength in defence as well de rossi supplying the ball to Pirlo which is well needed.
on the 11th June, 2012 at 12:13pm
Well to De Rossi but is better to have him along side Pirlo and Marchisio. simple.. I want to see cassano and Di Na next game. Balotelli can remain on the bench. Giaccherini I am well happy with his performance.. lot people don't see that.. He dealt with the pressure nicely and was the player to cover most ground on the pitch. He can get better and more comfortable..
on the 11th June, 2012 at 12:05pm



donot begining balloteli.this formation of croatia
on the 11th June, 2012 at 12:05pm
I dont agree with David. Torres brought trouble to De Rossi only when the midfield simply stopped pressing! All what spain has done in the last 10 mins was because Pirlo - Marchisio - Motta suddenly stopped defending.
3-5-2 is disastrous when you're not able to intercept the ball at midfield. I hope Prandelli starts next just like he started with Spain. I would even keep Balo upfront!
on the 11th June, 2012 at 11:58am
De rossi should remain there and barzagli will take bonucci place , de rossi was superb I saw cannavaro in him last night , yes torres created some problems bec he was fresh and italy midfield was very tired but I think the same formation should start again against croatia to have more cconsistency and very soon de rossi will get use to that role , look at the way he built the games from back
on the 11th June, 2012 at 11:57am
Iv always said he is not as good in the middle, he does not have the legs to cover the ground....he is better at the back he was amazing yesterday so i would keep him there even ahead of Barzagli, maybe drop Bonucci for Barzagli
on the 11th June, 2012 at 11:36am

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