Monday September 10 2012
Don't crush the Ant!

Criticism of Sebastian Giovinco’s display against Bulgaria was to be expected, but, as Giancarlo Rinaldi writes, somewhat premature.

It seems to be their fate whenever the search begins for a scapegoat. When the finger-pointing starts after a poor Azzurri display, you can be sure they are in the firing line. If in doubt, blame it on the creative ones.

History shows this has always been the case. From the ludicrous staffetta between Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera to the critiques of Roberto Baggio, via the doubts expressed over Giancarlo Antognoni and Giuseppe Giannini, they have continually been called into question. On Friday night in Sofia, it was Sebastian Giovinco's turn.

In the interests of objectivity, it is only fair to say the Juve man did not perform well. But it seemed a little harsh to single him out from an overall team performance that was more disappointing than a spaghetti carbonara swimming in cream. He could hardly hold sole responsibility.

Yet the general consensus was that he underperformed and, I confess, I was as guilty as anyone. Via Twitter I dubbed him the Formica Anonima – the Anonymous Ant – my feeble attempt to make a funny play on words out of his nickname. Sometimes, when a game is particularly dull, I stoop to such things.

On reflection, however, it was harsh on the former Parma man. Cesare Prandelli was much more expert in his defence of his player. He might have been constantly on his case during the game, but in the post-match Press conference he was quick to dismiss any talk of individual failure. Players must appreciate that sort of support.

The trouble, of course, is that the little forward has been here before. He was ditched by Juventus when he seemed unable to cope with the demands of Serie A and banished to Emilia-Romagna. It was a move which ultimately left the Bianconeri wracked with more regrets than the man who found out the blind date he turned down was with Scarlett Johansson.

Italy, of course, can't make the same mistake. There is no question of Giovinco switching allegiances to Switzerland and coming back to haunt them. Nonetheless, the Azzurri would be ill advised to dispense with his services any time soon.

He may not yet be worthy of mention with the great fantasisti and playmakers of the past, but he at least deserves a fair chance. Club Italia does not have that many options in his position and precious few players of his type. At his best, he buzzes around opposition defenders until they are driven to distraction. And that is a precious gift that should not be thrown away lightly – as Juve know to their cost.

With great skills, of course, come great expectations and such players can be infuriating. When they don't deliver a match-winning move of magic, we question why they were included in the team at all. But these players also need time to grow and get the confidence to perform to the best they can. That's why it's not time to turn the bazooka of blame on Giovinco just yet. Salviamo la Formica – let's save the Ant.

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Have your say...
why not play 4-3-3
abate/casani chielini/bonuchi barzagli/rano ciscito
de rossi/noce pirlo/verrati marchisio/monti
gio/borini osvaldo/balo/destro insigne/balo/
on the 12th September, 2012 at 10:17am
Next month against Armenia and Denmark we need to greatly improve and start scoring some goals and be more clinical. Prandelli has put the last 2 results down largely to the time of the year, it will be interesting to see how much if any we improve next month. Hopefully have chiellini, de rossi, motta, montolivo, balotelli and cassano back, based on the last 2 games we need them desperately. I just feel really disappointed was expecting more goals last night and a better performance.
on the 12th September, 2012 at 8:42am
Another really poor performance against Malta. To only beat them 2-0 is terrible we should be winning 5-0 maybe more. Malta only just beat san marino a few weeks ago in a frindly, its a joke. As Prandelli keeps saying we never play well at this time of the year. It shouldnt matter what time of the year it is against this level of opposition. Destro and Insigne when he came on did well that was the only positive.
on the 12th September, 2012 at 8:37am
unfortunately for Gio he is not the kind of striker that can strive in any system,formation or role upfront...the team has to be specifically set up to get the ball to him in areas where he can be dangerous...however that takes nothing away from his skill set, which if u consider other young Italian strikers, he is still the most creative and unpredictable for defenses to handle...Insigne needs time but he is the next best option in that ss role as he is more direct and explosive than Gio...
on the 11th September, 2012 at 2:15pm
Yes Giovinco is no good, and so we bench him, replace him with Christian Diamanti. The most uncreative player I have ever seen in a blue jersey. The fact that this guy actually puts on a shirt is a sign of the times man. You fools know nothing, Giovinco is more than capable and just because of a 2-2 draw away in hostile Sofia he is benched? Shame on CP .. making the same mistakes he made in the Euro's.
on the 11th September, 2012 at 1:45pm
the bigger picture is that the midfield didnt exert any influence on the game at all, de rossi was not fit and shouldnt have started, play nocerino and keep de rossi on the bench, where was Pirlo? we should have played 442 why does ghiacs who even get into the squad??? never mind the 1st 11, diamanti is just a journyman player,there was far too much arguing amonst the players ultimatley its Prandelli who picks the formation and team and who sets out the game plan, do players not follow it?
on the 11th September, 2012 at 12:55pm
If Giovinco is one of the best forwards the Azzurri have we are in deep trouble.

Balo, Destro, Borini, Insigne and Immobile are the best 5 strikers Italy have to take them to WC 2014. Osvaldo is ok, but limited. Giovinco is an average player capable of moments of quality and shouldn't be anywhere near starting.

CP is worrying me because his choice of players at times is way off point.
on the 11th September, 2012 at 7:33am
Gio should be playing deeper behind two strikers where diamanti is expected t pay the next game. he creates and can beat players. Long balls do not work and he needs to play in a fit team that move the around. When he played at the euros he was a sub and the team was tired after 60 minutes. Play him as the trequesta. diamanti is crap. shouldnt be there and getting old anyways.
on the 11th September, 2012 at 12:59am
A lot of people see that Giovinco is short and expect him to suddenly play like messi. He has a totally different style. He likes to hang onto the last defender and make runs. Giovinco is always a dangerous player off the ball because of his pace and clever movement. Of course he has the skill to dribble past opponents and make great passes, but he can't be expected to do it all the time. Giovinco's whole career has been about people not giving him a chance. Parma did and he was great.
on the 11th September, 2012 at 12:06am
At Abdul Kano;

How does bringing on a YOUNGER more promising player in the next game show a lack of faith in young players? Quite frankly Giovinco cannot even be considered "young" anymore. He's a young man in the overall scheme of life, but for a footballer he is certainly not very young. He did well last season, but I dare say half the time he impressed was against less than world class opposition. Too much hype on too little talent.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 5:50pm
Nice article, give gio his shot, his goal last year when paired up front with matri for italy was great
on the 10th September, 2012 at 4:11pm
If giovino was to shine ,hes better of playing up front a lone with another striker behind him to feed him the balls the only reason i say these is because of hes size
on the 10th September, 2012 at 4:10pm

Better Fabregas? Cmon.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 3:21pm
Prando Please bring up Cigarini! He deserves it.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 2:04pm
To be honest, I was disappointed Juve didn't throw everything at Jovetic earlier, instead of bothering with Gio. Balzaretti & Nocerino were bigger mistakes than letting Gio go (thanks Secco). However, now that we are banned from Jojo (nice work Marotta - Berbatov?), Gio is the best next option. He needs to settle down and develop his small man game, a la Messi/Xavi, to avoid getting man handled by the physical teams. He can do it, it's just a matter of technique.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 1:58pm
It's true Giovinco played badly against Bulgaria as well as the entire players. But to snub Gio from starting IX against Malta cause of above reason, it will be a clear indication that young players will continiou to suffer from lack of faith from the coaches in Italy.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 1:13pm
Part II

When Italy was starting to get muscled around the composure that they never quite had further crumbled and the long balls started, a wasted tactic on a player of Gio's tactic.

Who's to blame?
- For one, no one has yet mentioned the fact that Italian players are always late to the fitness party in Aug/Sept but history clearly dictates this is fact
- Wrong personell for the tactics

Still a draw wasn't all bad
on the 10th September, 2012 at 1:00pm
The only time that 3-5-2 worked was against Spain with DDR in the D. I agree that long ball was the wrong tactic when you have Giovinco up front. This isn't the same quality 3-5-2 that Juve use. Also remember this is an Italy team that was missing several regulars from the Euros and in part that had to add to some of the confusion on the pitch. It wasn't that Bulgaria was technically better, but certainly more fit and much more aggressive.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 12:54pm
Dont care about anyones justification for Giovinco, the guy hasnt proved anything with the azzurri, he's a little bum who cant find the back of the net consistley. Forget that we cant base are game around Giovinco he sucks and it pisses me off that everyone thinks he is superb, he will never be solid for the azzurri I no it. He sucks a big one plane and simple. Sammy D, you no what your talking about, these other fools are too blind just like Prandelli cause he has this thing for Gio its a joke.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 12:40pm
I was really disappointed to see this much criticism leveled against Gio. As i said in the other blog, CP played the wrong formation and tactics were horrible. If anyone needs to be blamed its CP. Gio is not Luca Toni and is not capable of handling long balls. His best position is in the center right behind Destro or Osvaldo, if played behind either one of the two or behind them both, Gio would prove all his critics wrong. Also Osvaldo played to far away from Gio & was left isolated in the game.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 11:58am
Cant believe criticism at Gio. Sam De Martino; "Gio's done nothing in Italy shirt". He hasnt had many caps thats why. Prandelli barely used him at Euro's. Here is a player arriving at a new Juve team from Parma & doing very well, he deserved the call. Prandelli could have used him in the Euro's but chose not too, hence now you have a player thrown at No 10 who isnt familar with team or tactics, set up to fail! The team played poor but most of all Prandelli's tactics yet again people were dire!!
on the 10th September, 2012 at 11:50am
Giovinco is one of the best attackers Italy have, I don't think the 5-3-2 system suits him, he and Osvaldo were so isolated the whole game and what is Giovinco going to do when long balls keep getting pumped up to him? He's not exactly Andy Carroll! I'd really like to see him on the left of a 4-3-3 or in the middle as a false 9 like Messi or Fabregas, he's not as good as Messi but I think he could do a better job than Fabregas there.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 11:43am
Once all the new personnel settle's into the team and Prandelli's tactical set up, I am sure we will see the true nature of players like Giovinco. Friday was a bad day at the office that's all, keep the faith, it will come good you'll see.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 11:06am
I am Maltese. Malta is a crap team who usually play really bad against all teams. But in Malta the majority of the people support Italy and England with Germany taking third place of the most supported teams. So when Malta plays one of these teams they give their soul out so don’t expect an unfit Italy to trash Malta. To be fair Malta’s best performance against such teams comes when they play in Malta, but still I can’t see Italy hammering Malta. Especially not the Italy that played Bulgaria. I remember a much better Italy team with Baresi, Maldini, Costacurta, Donandoni, Albertini and Vialli only winning 2-1 because Malta lost a penalty.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 11:03am
Alex pretty much nailed it. Seba is an asset but to shine the team needs to play for him and give him the ball to his feet. On the rare occasion that this happened Seba played some good balls to Osvaldo. But the mid needs to be stable and the whole team needs to run not walk. Also give the kid some time, he may be brilliant but how many starts does he have for Italy? If people want to scapegoat individuals how about Maggio who has always been rubbish for Italy or Bonucci who has never been a good player but when he’s clearly so out form he’s even worse. Italy also need more players to pick a pass and need to learn how to counter attack where one can get the best out of Seba’s speed and creativity.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 10:50am
Give him time he will come good , I'd like to see giovinco balotelli Rossi in a front 3 in the next world cup , obviously with Rossi injured we won't see them 3 together for a while . In the meantime we need to keep the faith in giovinco , he has great quality and will come good !
on the 10th September, 2012 at 10:45am
Dear Writer - ur blog surprised me. Gio is one of the most over-rated players in italy & the world. His scoring rate is average, shooting is average, passing is average, body balance is week, control is week, you name it...Its just that juve's tuttosport blows every juve player out of proportion. I will never forget their saying that marichisio is italy's iniesta. What the hell are they thinking, Comparison doesnt exist. Gio is an anverage player, soon he will be on juve's bench
on the 10th September, 2012 at 10:42am
the article lost all credibility when directly or indirectly trying to compare Giovinco to Rivera&Baggio. Don't get me wrong, Giovinco is a good player. But I also do believe that Parma was the right size club and surroundings for him. you have to remember that Giovinco is no longer a child. He is 25 years old. When push comes to shove and he is made to perform, he really isn't anywhere near the level expected. He is just a slightly more mature version of El Sharaawy. No composure what so ever!
on the 10th September, 2012 at 10:32am
Any predications for Malta game on the scoreline anyone?. Destro only had about 15 or so minutes against Bulgaria and nearly scored at the end, not an easy game for anyone to come into the way we played. I thought he did ok. There is a danger of Giovinco losing some confidence if he doesnt play but bringing him on later in the game when Malta hopefully are starting to tire, with his pace maybe very useful to use.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 10:04am
I totally agree, it wasn't him who didn't play well it was the entire team even the 2 goals we scored were simply luck and of no real skill, and Bulgaria's first goal should have simply never gone in, not to mention the second was due to atrocious defending.And in all fairness this next point is both for and against Gio..he was abused physically by the much bigger Bulgarians, which unfortunately is his downfall.but give him a chance, Maltese are much small and less physical.
on the 10th September, 2012 at 10:01am

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