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Tuesday June 26 2012
Prandelli's revolution

Scott Fleming asks whether Italy's audacious new style of play makes their progress at Euro 2012 worth more than previous success.

“The revolution will not be televised,” Gil Scott Heron once famously said.

Cesare Prandelli's revolution has been televised. Those of you with access to RAI or who know their way around an internet stream will have known well in advance of Sunday night's proceedings in Kiev that Prandelli's Italy was different. They are unlike the sides led by Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni, Dino Zoff and Cesare Maldini, unlike any Italian national side going all the way back to the days of Vittorio Pozzo for that matter.

A new philosophy was at work throughout the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, manifesting itself in more attacking players on the field, more goals, and more passes completed. In June last year at Modena's Stadio Alberto Braglia Italy led a bewildered Estonia a merry dance, completing a staggering 829 passes.

Yet the wider world remained either unaware of, or unconvinced by, the transformation. After all, it’s one thing turning on the style against Estonia and Northern Ireland, and quite another to do it against Spain and England.

In the build-up to these championships, Prandelli was given every excuse he could have needed to revert to the old ways, from Domenico Criscito being tarred with the Calcioscommesse brush to Andrea Barzagli's calf injury to the casual demolition inflicted upon his team by Russia in Zurich, and when he introduced a new 3-5-2 formation just days before the Group C opener, it seemed he had.

But, despite being restricted to a minuscule share of possession, as opponents to Spain always are, Italy created just as many goal-scoring opportunities as the World and European champions in Gdansk and thoroughly merited their 1-1 draw. “We did not play five at the back, it was three,” the CT was at pains to point out afterwards, whilst his counterpart Vicente Del Bosque hailed the Azzurri for ‘playing us face to face’ and being ‘as daring and as good as our team are’.

However, it was not until Sunday night's quarter-final that Prandelli's revolution was consecrated, legitimised and vindicated. Italy, described as ‘eminently beatable’ shortly before kick-off by a disdain-oozing Alan Hansen on the BBC, dominated to a quite remarkable extent, with 68 per cent possession, 833 passes, 35 shots. La Nazionale have toppled other major international powers in the past, but they did it by outthinking and outfighting them, not outplaying them. England, a nation who have so often cast themselves in the role of the dashing white knight who slays Italy's defensive dragon, resorted to catenaccio.

Not only are they now in with a chance of their first European Championship win for 44 years, the Italians are enjoying the unusual sensation of receiving respect which isn't grudging, praise which isn't qualified. Prandelli - applauded into his Press conference at Casa Azzurri yesterday – is more convinced of his policies than ever.

“Did we manage a tactical revolution? We're just beginning. But we have the responsibility to try, if we don't want to get stuck watching the World Cup and the Euros on TV then we have to be proactive. Without thinking of the result from the first minute.”

Have any other full-backs spent as much as time in the opposition half as Ignazio Abate and Federico Balzaretti? Italy haven't just been slightly more offensive than they once were, statistics suggest they have been the most attacking team at the tournament, hitting more shots, 87, and more shots on target, 49, than anyone else . And yet seven other nations, including four who have gone home already, have scored more. The irony is that whereas in the past, Italy's pragmatic Coaches chose which one of Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera to drop in the 1970s, and Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero in the 1990s, now that Italy have a tactician willing to flood the side with attacking talents there isn't the same abundance of them.

Antonio Cassano has had 12 shots in Poland and Ukraine, and scored once. Mario Balotelli has had 21 shots, and scored once.

What's encouraging ahead of the daunting appointment with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday is that the defence hasn't been compromised by the new approach, only Spain have conceded less. We can afford a glimmer of hope therefore, that Italy's sixth - and surely most impressive given the bold and unprecedented tactics on show  - major tournament win, is possible.

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Have your say...
"Italy, described as ‘eminently beatable’ shortly before kick-off by a disdain-oozing Alan Hansen on the BBC"

Which prove my point even more. Based on what records did english journalist say that? When was your last victory against us, and above all what have England done since 1966, to feel so superior as to give us lessons in football?
on the 3rd July, 2012 at 5:44pm
"They are unlike the sides led by Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni, Dino Zoff and Cesare Maldini, unlike any Italian national side going all the way back to the days of Vittorio Pozzo for that matter."

Nothing from this Italy is worth more than Italy 1970, 1978, 1990 and above all 1982 WC. You may fool those who were not even borned at that time, but you cannot ri-writte the history just to back your stereotypes.
on the 3rd July, 2012 at 5:40pm
I realy wish Prandelli would stop talking about Italy having to be a more attacking side. Its as if he is apolojizing for the past. Everyone needs to remember that the italy of the past although defensive where always threatening in the counter attack & that was their style. I loved the Italy of the past & love the Italy of the presant. Italy do not have to please the masses they need to please their supporters.
on the 28th June, 2012 at 12:04am
This Italy is very different from others and Prandelli has always tried to play fluid football! unlike previous years we are able to control the game in midfield which is probably why we have been able to take so many shots at goal! we have the right balance in the team but we need to convert chances into goals if we are to go on and win this! unlike Germany we can defend as a team and change our style of play, if we control the midfield against germany we have a good chance! forza italia!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 3:04pm
Lets all calm down abit total possesion against england who didnt play their normal game and played 4 pens had italy scored we would of been well and truly tested we do suffer when put under pressure.overall prandelli is do a good job
on the 27th June, 2012 at 2:32pm
this kind of play, already played all years by juve. Prandelli, just applied it to NT. I think the word 'revolution' is too much, without crediting Conte
on the 27th June, 2012 at 12:15pm
Germany usually struggle against Italy but I’m afraid this time it’s going to be different. Germany will not wait and give the Italians the time and space to build up play, but they will press. Judging by the games against Croatia and Ireland, this does not augur well for Italy. When pressed they seem to be chasing shadows like headless chickens. I wish I’m wrong here, but facts are facts.

Rumours also have it that CP is considering playing Chiellini for Federico which is shameful, and Diamanti for Cassano. I’d much rather have Diamanti replace Monty. Yes he had one of his best games ever (except for the pen) against England. But against Germany he’ll be clueless as he usually is.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:30am
England are not a big side, they're somewhat similar to Italy, and in the end the result proved this, because after 120mins of play Italy for all their possession couldn't find the net. Had England scored in one of the few counter attacks they had the story would have been different.

Usually Germany struggle against Italy but I have my doubts this year. Germany will not give Italy the space and the time to keep possession like England.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:26am
I'm a big Italian fan and I'll be the first to congratulate Prandelli on the good principles he's installing. But calling this works in progress a revolution is pre-mature.

Football is won by goals scored against goals conceded and not by possession. The shot statistics quoted here are not something to be proud of but something to worry about. For all their shots Italy only scored 4 goals so far and only 1 of these came from open play (ironically against a team who has otherwise not conceded.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:22am
Hats off to Prandelli for revolutionising the Italian national side. Such a joy to see the azzurri completely destroy a poor England team. But that's the point. England were poor. We have to use this new philosophy to outplay and beat the worlds best and not fall back on the old mentality of just doing enough. That means if we play like we're 2 nil or 3 nil better - we should win the game 2 nil or 3 nil. Easy. No?? FORZA ITALIA Roll on Germany on Thursday.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:47am
Articles like this infuriate, they only enforce a misinterpretation of Italian game. In 70s Beazort rid of Catenaccio with fast & direct attacking sides using Anto, Tard, Conti in mid & in def asking Scirea & Cabrini to push forward. In 90 Giannini & Donnadoni attacked from mid. Italy only fell back to been defensive when out muscled in midfield; common in the 90s due to average midfielders. Pirlo changed this in the 00s. Its not down to a Prandelli revolution but strength of players at the time
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:04am
Nice article by Scott Flamin.
Parandelli deserves to be pat on his back cause of his effort to change Italy's depending way of play to more attacking and entartaining one. Forza Parandelli.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:04am
England employed a system that was like no other, it was a mix of 'rubbish' with more 'rubbish' making it a super rubbish team!
Catenaccio is art.. England were not 'art'..... Italy distroyed them, and I smiled all the way through the game, loved every min of it. Germany were praying for england, they fear italy and so they should. Won't be easy but it will be an historical night, 2-1 italy. Must play di natale over balotelli.
Forza italia
on the 27th June, 2012 at 9:20am
"now that Italy have a tactician willing to flood the side with attacking talents there isn't the same abundance of them"

This part is spot on. At WC 2002, Trapattoni had a headache choosing between Totti & Del Piero to start alongside either Vieri, Inzaghi, Montella. There was too many good strikers to choose from & they failed as a team.

At WC 2006 there was a lack of good strikers to choose from, but they gel so well as team & the rest speaks for itself.

This team is similar to WC 2006.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 7:53am
And to be fair, Lippi's 2006 side attacked as well. They were very sound in the back (well, until Matrix had to start playing anyway), but Lippi played quite a few attacking players as well.

The Azzurri haven't played true catenaccio for decades. Only clueless TV talking heads keep that myth going.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 1:01am
If you watch Serie A, you will know that this Azzurri team was made in Turin and utilizes the tactics and the style Conte has used all season with Juventus.

Pirlo has played like this all season. The only people shocked by this are people who don't watch Italian football.

If Italy had a proper goal scorer they would not be considered a "mediocre" side, but one of the great ones. If their strike force can convert a few more of their chances, this team can still win the Euros.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 12:57am
Fantastic article and finally someone writing a piece with a positive twist. What is frustrating is that this was there for all to see from the beginning, but much like English fans not many bloggers on here gave our boys any chance.
Italy are now a great TEAM, not a squad of great INDIVIDUALS.
They play for each other and with passion. There is no-one to fear in this tournament and anything is possible.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 12:55am
Great to see such positive and insightful comments on this article.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 12:51am
Why oh why could we not have had Prandelli 10/15 years ago?!?! i can't beleive that the type of coach i have always wanted for Italy has come along when we have the lowest quality squad i can remember. not that we are bad, we still have some world class players, but it almost makes me weep thinking what a team he would have concocted out of Baggio, Mancini, Vialli, Zola, Totti, Del Piero, Vieri, i could go on! with Maldini, canna and nesta, zambrotta, we'd have been practically invincible.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 11:51pm
Win or loses on thursday, Prandelli has build great building blocks with this team, shame that Pirlo, de rossi and Buffon aren't 5 years younger. The only thing left to do with the building blocks that Prandelli has started is for the Serie A clubs to invest in home grown talent to take Prandelli works further.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 11:44pm
I must add my voice to that of MilanFan, and say that England weren't playing Catenaccio. Catenaccio has been out of fashion for a long time. The only side recently I can recall using a system which resembled it in anyway was Greece in 2004.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 11:38pm
Germany will be the test. everyone is talking about them. If prandelli can learn from the previous games and continue to advance his teams performance i dont see who can stop us

FORZA ITALIA

Balotelli OUT he is only a good CLUB TEAM player. Di Natale BACK. He was effective and all over the place against Croatia only he never received a good pass from midfield
on the 26th June, 2012 at 11:19pm
This Italian side is an example to the rest of the world. Spain and barcelona have changed the way football can be played in recent years but Italy are now playing a more direct, penetrating style which I feel is much more attractive to watch and technically just as good. The only thing required now is some clinical finishing ala Di Natale!! Germany will always be strong minded and self confident but they will fear this new Italy Prandelli is developing. Forza azzurri, Italia sempre' !!!
on the 26th June, 2012 at 10:21pm
Just One sentence fantastic Azzurri side...... i ll just add one thing, pls Prandelli u r a gud job but dont start with Montlivio as triquest... he is nt gud at that position, if no Thiago motta pls use Nocerino, he is a fantastic player, n he proved it in the england game, he almost scored twice but was unlucky not to score.......forza azzurri
on the 26th June, 2012 at 9:56pm
Prandelli's Italy is a treat to watch. He has transformed a squad of mediocre talents look like world beaters. And I can't remember any Italy side play such consistently beautiful football since Italia 90 (when I started watching).

But I do think Italy need to revert to 3-5-2 for that semifinal against Germany, for the fact that their fragile defence hasn't been tested as yet apart from the last 30 minutes against Spain.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 9:25pm
Almost there, but we still need to WIN against a good team (drew with Spain and Croatia).
on the 26th June, 2012 at 8:11pm
Italy and Italian players must win a title before they are lauded by outside media. Other countries this is not the case. If Italy loses, everyone will call them a mediocre side, whereas if Germany loses they will be called unlucky. Pirlo was over the hill until he dominated England- even though his performance was just as amazing as it has been all year. This reminds me of '06, poor finishing and lots of injuries, but hopefully we can still get it done.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 7:26pm
The Italian team is patient and can drive that german squad crazy. The Germans love hard strikes and crosses that finish with goals from the head. Italian defense, with there new tactfully planned attack makes this German squad change there game. Cesare has to stick with 4-3-1-2 formation if he wants to win. As much to surprise to all soccer fans the Italian team is more dangerous now than they have ever been.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 7:00pm
GRANDE MARCO!!!!!!!
on the 26th June, 2012 at 6:36pm
If Spain had dominated a game against England as Italy did the british press would still be praising them. Instead they are still saying Italy are not a great side. Lets continue to be the underdogs. A little more luck & clinical finishing infront of goal and we wil go all the way. Germany will come out more than England alowing Italy to get closer & Spains tipitap football does not penetrate as well as the Azzurri. Bring on Thursday. FORZA AZZURRI.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 6:17pm

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