Tuesday September 4 2012
The end for Cassano?

After Antonio Cassano’s omission from the latest Italy squad, Antonio Labbate asks whether we’ll ever see him at international level again.

For a player who announced that he’d win the Golden Ball within 24 months of his 2001 arrival at Roma, Antonio Cassano’s record of 35 caps in a nine-year international career smacks of under-achievement. Given his Azzurri debut by Giovanni Trapattoni in a November 2003 friendly in Poland, his sublime chipped goal that night promised to be the first of many in Italy blue.  

It hasn’t quite worked out though on the international scene for the talented kid from the narrow and twisty backstreets of Bari Vecchia. Only nine more strikes have followed amid the backdrop of a controversial club career which has taken him to Real Madrid, Sampdoria and now both sides of the San Siro divide. A talented footballer, yes, but not a professional one.

Born on the day after Italy won the 1982 World Cup, that competition has so far remained an unobtainable objective for the 30-year-old. And having been omitted from Cesare Prandelli’s squad for the start of their 2014 campaign, one has to wonder whether he’ll ever get a shot on the biggest stage that the global game has to offer.

Snubbed from the experimental August side that lost to England in Switzerland, Cassano’s name was again missing from the 25-man party which Prandelli confirmed on Sunday for the upcoming games against Bulgaria and Malta.

“Cassano has said that he is currently only at 50-60 per cent and, at this moment, I don’t have time to recover players because we need to win games to qualify,” Prandelli noted at Coverciano yesterday. “I can’t take any risks in these qualifying games with players who are not in perfect physical condition. He just has to re-find his form, then there will only be tactical decisions to make.”

That tactical decision, one could argue, may have already been taken. After all, Cassano’s supposed fitness issues didn’t stop him starting in three games for Inter since his split from Milan last month. Add in the fact that Prandelli is keen to rejuvenate his side and Cassano – who has appeared at three European Championships – may be struggling to add to his international cap tally. Especially as it seems that FantAntonio now seems to have some real competition in attack.

There is no doubt that Italy went into Euro 2012 with limited options in the offensive third. The loss of Giuseppe Rossi to injury, mixed in with the poor form of several other Italian attackers, meant that the tactician had little option but to wait for Cassano to recover from minor heart surgery. Despite clearly not being in great physical shape, he was constantly given game time in Poland and the Ukraine.

The scenario today, though, is somewhat different. The likes of Mattia Destro and Fabio Borini have been promoted from the Under-21 set-up, while Sebastian Giovinco and Lorenzo Insigne – second strikers like Cassano – could become firm fixtures in the Giro Azzurro if their development at Juventus and Napoli continue.

With Prandelli forced to look to the future, nobody could blame him if he was already planning for a World Cup bid in Brazil without Antonio Cassano.

Have your say...
Time for a rethink of opinions Antonio?
on the 1st October, 2012 at 9:26pm
Although Buffon could perhaps have done better on the first goal he did make a lot of excellent saves. Prandelli called it a valuable point, its a point no more. We cant play that badly again. Giovinco was very poor, Osvaldo was great the only positive performance. Losing De Rossi isnt good as I'm a big Roma Fan. Bulgaria are very poor, England scored 7 in 2 games against them in qualfiers for the Euros. We need a big win against Malta now although I doubt we will get it.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 8:55pm
Painful Painful Painful. What a terrible performance. to concede 2 goals against Bulgaria is a disgrace. The first goal in particular Buffon what happened. A draw isnt disasterous but we should be doing a lot better. Chiellini was sorely missed as was Montolivo, Motta, Cassano and Balotelli. I hate watching these matches its always the same story. England can score 5 in Moldova. Bosnia can score 8 in Liectenstein yet we cant even beat Bulgaria. Why?
on the 7th September, 2012 at 8:46pm
Blog seems to be jumping the gun!let's remember the guy has not long got back from a life threatening condition,and did a decent job at the euros.prandelli is leaving him out to let him settle at inter and get back into a rhythm but if he does get back to his form pre stroke he'll be in the team for sure.don't agree with how he goes about things but could understand his frustration at 30 he certainly has something to offer still
on the 7th September, 2012 at 3:36pm
Cassano’s footballing skills are a gift given to him by nature. Had he trained seriously to develop his stamina, strength and speed since his Bari days, today he would be one of the world's top players. Unfortunately, he felt that his skills were enough. It is only in the last couple of years (under Prandelli and Allegri) that he started to chase or tackle - before that, when his side lost possession he would simply turn into a spectator. It's too late now to develop that part of his game.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 10:37am
Popov is the danger man tonight if we keep him quiet I am confident we can win. As I have said on previous blogs we need to be more clinical in front of goal, scoring more goals. In the qualifiers for Euro 2012, we scored 5 goals in 5 away qualfiers against Estonia, Faroe Islands, Slovenia, Serbia and Northern Ireland that is no way good enough despite our general good defensive performances in those games.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 10:26am
Forza Italia. Hoping for a positive result tonight. Would love to win 3-0 although knowing us it is likely to be tight. I would love to see us really put down a marker tonight to the rest of the group and score some goals. The Atomic Ant needs to reproduce his club form tonight, it will be interesting to see how he links up with Osvaldo. With Balzaretti, Chiellini, Montolivo, Motta, Balotelli and Cassano not there will certainly give others a real chance to lay down a marker. Fingers crossed.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 10:22am

Nice squad.. I'm with you on that one.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 5:01pm
My 25 man squad for the world cup:
Buffon , Consigli , Leali.
Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli, Ogbonna, Abate, De Scgilio, Criscito , Maggio,
Schelotto, De rossi, Motta, Montolivo, Pirlo, Verratti, Marchisio, Nocerino,
Destro, Giovinco, Insigne, G. Rossi, Balotelli, El Shaarawy.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 10:26pm
Will be 32 in the next World Cup. In the creative attacker role he'll be battling Insigne and Giovinco, and possibly Rossi too unfortunately. His legs have gone and now he looks a very ordinary player. I wouldn't be surprised if his international career is over.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 7:14pm
@sam: add Schelotto, I expect a lot of him and he is multifunctional, can play along the whole right side.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 5:56pm
Pazzini had an awful season last year at Inter. Played well for milan in bologna but there are better forwards than him, its that simple. I'm not an Abate fan as defensively I dont feel he offers much, he was partly to blame for defoes goal when we played England also as he wasnt tight enough to him when he scored.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 3:40pm
Give Leali time and he will show just how good he is in my view. He was never going to take Buffons place at Juve. I've followed Leali for a while long before Juve and think he has real potential. Perin also has a lot of potential and you may well be right about him been a future number one goalkeeper, although not a great start 6 goals conceded in 2 games. I think anyone is better than Sirigu, Viviano and De Sanctis.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 3:29pm
@sam de

Where is Abate? Where is pazzini. Much rather have pazzini then diamanti. Also, de scgilio should be on that list
on the 5th September, 2012 at 2:54pm
Let's not jump the gun here, if he's fit and in form he will still be in contention for call up's. The guy is too good to ignore, he'll only be 32 come the World Cup! In regards to the 2nd striker/wide attacker positions we have some tasty forwards vying for those places, it's exciting stuff.

Giuseppe Rossi
El Shaarawy

... To name a few
on the 5th September, 2012 at 1:58pm
@Sam De Martino.

how exactly did you even get to mentioning Leali? simply because you saw that Juve had signed him? Mattea Perin is at Pescara and at 19, he has shown more quality and assurance that Leali has. Perin is a future number one of the national side.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 1:00pm
Marcello Lippi is vindicated in leaving out Cassano in 2010. Cassano has not lived up to expectations. A likable and interesting character, with a dark/ difficult side but ultimately a failure on the pitch. This is why he did not go to the world cup in 2010.

I will say it again Lippi was unlucky in 2010. I was in the stadium for the final group game, one decision took away qualification.

Destro looks like the real deal very impressive. the future looks bright for Italia but not for Cassano.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 12:48pm
Yes the ticking time bomb who goes by the name of Antonio Cassano has exploded !!!

I'm not surprised at all if Prandelli drops him completely, he might select him for crucial world cup qualifying matches but I have a feeling he won't make the 23 man team for Brazil.

Great talent overshadowed by ego, or was it his personality, or.....
on the 5th September, 2012 at 10:06am
I dont think this is the end for Cassano, he was a great attacking threat during Euros and for most games, was the only real attacking threat. He did well during the qualifications for Euros as well, having been the top goal scorer for Italy. I definititely see him featuring more often for Italy when he is fully fit again. Nonetheless, it is good for the team as a whole when there is competition. This competition will increase even more when Rossi is fit again.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 9:53am
If everyone is fit my squad of 25 would be at present.
Buffon , Consigli , Viviano (only because Leali needs more time). Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli, Ogbonna, Cassani, Peluso, Balzaretti, Maggio, De rossi, Motta, Montolivo, Pirlo, Verratti, Marchisio, Diamanti, Nocerino, Destro, Giovinco, Insigne, Cassano, Balotelli,Osvaldo. Any thoughts?
on the 5th September, 2012 at 9:50am
I am not a fan of Borini I think he is decent at club level but for me isnt international class. Balotelli, Cassano, Giovinco, Insigne, Destro, Osvaldo, Rossi and even Pazzini would be ahead of him in my view. Di Natale is quality but time to move on. I'm fed up of saying this but Prandelli please give Consigli an opportunity to prove himself, ie in november with France in a friendly. Consigli and Leali they are the future. Get rid of De Sanctis, Sirigu and Viviano they are terrible.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 9:41am
I think Cassano did ok at the Euros when you consider all he has been through in the last year. He gave everything he could in the tournament and sweated blood to be fit in time. We have a lot of choice in attack but for me Cassano still has a role to play in the team. He isnt fully fit at present yet has still played well in the games so far for inter. As for Rossi after such a long lay off it is hard to predict just how he will be when he comes back, hopefully even better as he is a top player
on the 5th September, 2012 at 9:34am
Rosario - Could not agree more. I don't think i've ever agreed with a blog comment more.

As i live in England, i just wondered what the feeling was about Borini back in Italy. Not really set the world alight at Liverpool at the moment, and i know its early days but i just can't see him become a force in the Italian squad in the future.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 8:30am
Cassano has been living off a far distant reputation for far too long. Add to that his atrocious attitude which as seen in the summer is by no means gone. there are fitter, better, learner and more reliable players out there. This ungrateful piece of garbage can never give a full 90 minutes these days anyway.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 4:03am
Cassano is finished. He was quite poor at euro 12 in the majority of games. As the writer says I can see giovinco and insigne move above him in the pecking order this season. It's time that giovinco was given his chance at international level.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 2:04am
Cassano is being written off too soon here. What if he hits form with Inter? Di Natale wasn't a part of Prandelli's plans originally but he was still selected for the Euro 2012 squad.

Prandelli has to be the anti-thesis of Lippi. The 2010 World Cup was such a disaster and Prandelli's approach is fresh. It remains to be seen if Destro and co can live up to expectations so if Cassano is still on form come 2014, I'm sure Prandelli will find some room for him.
on the 5th September, 2012 at 1:49am
For real? The sky is falling phenomenon, or nothing to write about today?
on the 4th September, 2012 at 11:45pm
Prandelli is introducing youth into the squad now to prepare them for the WC or would you rather that he threw in the youth when the WC starts. we want youth in the squad now so when the WC starts we have a team that works together. whas the point of playing cassano now if he isnt fit and if he isnt needed. he may well be taken to the WC & be the figure needed to keep the team together as Totti was in 06 Pirlo euro12
on the 4th September, 2012 at 11:44pm
Borini and Destro lolol oh yes ... Italia now has prolific strikers, much more talented and proven than Cassano.

If I were Cassano, I'd reject Prandelli. Forget the nazionale, because we won't be winning in Brazil anyway. Doesn't matter who would go .. but especially with Osvaldo and the new crew lol. this article is a joke.
on the 4th September, 2012 at 8:58pm
play the young guns, will be depending on the likes of destro, insigne, veratti and ogbonna in brazil anyway
on the 4th September, 2012 at 8:36pm

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