Tuesday March 19 2013
Will Prandelli find Italy answers?

Italy are preparing for games against Brazil and Malta. David Swan ponders what is going through the mind of boss Cesare Prandelli

The latest Italy squad, for the games against Brazil and Malta, has thrown up a new right-wing candidate. Step forward Alessio Cerci, the newest player to be thrown into Italy’s 4-3-3 as Cesare Prandelli frantically seeks a right-sided option with quality to complete the system he has been trying for so long to implement.

Cerci has been frustrating Serie A viewers for many years – games where he shows flashes of quality, followed by seven or eight where he does nothing, have been a common occurrence since 2010. It is highly debatable whether he is good enough for this level – there is a reason that there was not a long queue of suitors from the top half of the table looking to take him from Fiorentina – but at this point Prandelli is short of options and a little desperate.

Even if something bizarre happens and Cerci turns out to be the perfect man, there are deeper problems than trying to find a player who isn’t a scrub to play on the right. The continued inability to control games in midfield with this system is a problem against good sides – Italy’s strongest midfield, in terms of controlling a game, of Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo struggled against the young and relatively inexperienced Dutch trio in last month’s friendly draw with Holland.

Having grown so used to having essentially four central midfielders wandering around in the middle, it is almost as if they are struggling to adapt to just the three of them, even though they all play, or have played, in three man midfields domestically.

Claudio Marchisio’s return – he was injured for the Holland game – gives Prandelli a choice to make. He will probably play in one of the two games, if not both, meaning Montolivo will make way, which will not help Italy’s cause in terms of match control.

As consistently good as he has been for Juventus, he has been consistently average for Italy. A total of 31 largely anonymous appearances for the Azzurri do not reflect his true value, and Italy could do with the real Marchisio turning up at some point between now and the World Cup next year. He may not have Montolivo’s ability to aid the dictation of a match, but he offers a penetration that nobody else in the squad does, unless De Rossi morphs into the 2006-07 version of the player that Marcello Lippi first capped.

If 4-3-3 is what Prandelli wants the side to be comfortable with heading to Brazil in 2014, as appears to be the case, he won’t find it as easy to get into the XI if he continues to play the way he does for Italy, not with Montolivo making a strong case at Milan this season, and not when there are one or two young midfielders who look like they can make the grade.

The games also represent a chance for Mattia De Sciglio after he received his first call-up since the August friendly with England. Ignazio Abate and Christian Maggio were also convened, which suggests the Milan youngster has been summoned as a left-back, a position that Adriano Galliani claimed was his best on Sunday.

There is a bit of a flux at left-back for Italy right now. Domenico Criscito, who would normally be first-choice and who has performed well thus far, is out with cruciate ligament damage. Davide Santon had a mixed game against Holland, and combined with a loss of form for Newcastle means he was not called. Federico Balzaretti has passed 30, which is never a good thing with Prandelli’s approach to call-ups – Manuel Pasqual a case in point – and his place in Roma’s team has not been completely secure since his injury at the end of January, with Marquinho butting in on Roma’s left side.

The indecision is best summed by the arrival of Luca Antonelli, a player that has been capped before but has had a string of better options in front of him for the best part of three years. That has not changed – but this time he is the beneficiary of the first-choice being injured and the young option not playing very well.

It nevertheless allows De Sciglio a chance to take the test of international football. He has coped pretty well playing left-back at club level, and although his experience at Champions League level in the role is limited, he looks like someone who could put the left-back issue to bed for the next 15 years. The comparisons with a certain 126-capped Italian grow ever larger.

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Have your say...
I agree with Anonymous, Spain built its team around a successful Barcelona side, Prandelli should do the same with Italy & build around Juve's 3-5-2.

Sadly though Prandelli is blinded when it comes to formations and selections, how does one select players like De Sanctis, Gilardino & Giach and over look in form players like Matri and co... Its shocking if you ask me.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 8:08am
Prandelli needs to call up Totti.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 7:41am
Don't know why Prandelli is overlooking vucinic and icardi. They r the best creative goal scoring threats that Italy has. Matri shud be called up too and Quag not Giovinco and ovswaldo.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 6:59am
dummy hes playing a 4 3 1 2
on the 20th March, 2013 at 5:53am
Gosh, Give juve a break...
on the 20th March, 2013 at 4:56am
de sciglio has impressed me a lot with milan but hes only 20! let him play U-21 along with verratti and insigne because they will get regular playing time there they wont get that on the nationale squad. once santon and criscito come back from injury they are the answers to the left back position. and criticizing marchisio are you nuts?! hes arguably the best all around mid fielder in all of serie A. El Sha and balotelli need to play and italy needs to field the 3-5-2 for sure! Forza Azzurri
on the 20th March, 2013 at 2:16am
Im against the 4-3-3 formation! Doubt that we can get our team comfortable enough to play this formation until the world cup.
SES & Balo might not be suitable to play together.
I like De Sciglio and Abate but as far as Marchisio and Monty are concerned
Both have qualities that can compliment Italy but their characteristics are very different & so can't be compared.
I would play 3-5-2 & test Balo with SES up front or maybe 4-3-1-2.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:14am
4-3-3 for Italy is gonna fail. It always does.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:06am
Why does Prandelli keep calling Maggio???????????????
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:03am
Balotelli el sharawry


Marchisio verratti de rossi

Desciglio Chiellini barzagli maggio
on the 20th March, 2013 at 12:55am
i would like to see Aquilani back in the squad he always plays well
on the 20th March, 2013 at 12:49am
Still not convinced about prandelli. He cocked up the final . If only he played 3 man defense. Although there where other major factors to use losing. Hope leali plays for under 21s, what a player he is. Forza italia.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 11:40pm
We need to defo play with a 3 man back line of barzagli, bonucci, chiellini. We have players of great quality in full team and under 21 team. The key is getting the best out of them and winning WC and euros. I want lots of goals against malta. A big win is what we need. Brazil are in my view a shadow of previous brazil teams.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 11:35pm
My squad when all fit: buffon, marchetti, consigli, abate, ogbonna, chiellini, bonucci, barzagli, roncaglia, de sciglio, balzaretti, astori, de rossi, monty, marchisio, pirlo, verratti, florenzi, motta, poli, giaccerini, diamanti, balo, ses, osvaldo, cassano, rossi, quags.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 11:26pm
Wheres cassano, he is world class. Want to see roncaglia, but unfortunately at present he isnt playing much. Verratti injured is a blow. Hope cerci, antonelli and de sciglio take there chance. Hope chiellini makes it, he is vital. Will be good when rossi back, hopefully even better.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 11:15pm
I like the 352 that formation will suite them best.Cerci call was deservable he should be givin a chance though I think bonaventura should have got the call over him and poli.Prando needs to stop waisting space on the team with the likes of candreva giaccherini and maggio, giovinco and others its ridiculous. The pieces of the puzzle are all there its up to him to connect them all together. In other words there's a lot of talent in Italy and some of it is being overlooked.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 10:35pm
I believe that Italy should play with a 3-5-2 only if the back three are Bonucci, Chiellini, and Barzagli. Look at Juventus this past year and the year before. They conceded the fewest amount of goals in all of Europe with those three in the back, how does Prandelli not get something out of that? In front of the three should be Abate and De Sciglio who can be used as wing backs. Great Pace and defensively solid as well. Lastly, In the middle should be De Rossi, Pirlo, and Montolivo.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 10:03pm
Hmm it looks like Prandelli is reverting back to his 4312, with Monty in the hole. I'm a big fan of Monty, but prefer him playing in a deeper position; but that kind of is a problem for us because Pirlo, De Rossi, & Monty all like quarterback role. I don't mind 4312 as it is good for ball retention, & Balo+Osvaldo through the middle could be a real handful. So probably a 4312, & then 433 in the 2nd half.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 10:02pm
Paolo, I am no Juve fan! Stop acting so sensitive, no player is beyond criticism. SES has been average since Xmas, & to me, he looks jaded. On current form, he doesn't deserve to be in the squad. However, Abate, Di Sciglio, Monty, & Balo are all playing well;& deserve to be in the Italy first 11.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 9:47pm
I saw the probable line up and only 5 of those guys would be starting for me. With the squad available he should try a 4-3-3: Buffon; Abate, Ranocchia, Barzagli/Chiellini (if fit), Antonelli; Pirlo, De Rossi, Marchisio; El shaarawy, Balotelli, Giovinco.

Insigne and Santon should be on the big team though, no questions asked
on the 19th March, 2013 at 9:18pm
@Dan Giambrone

Lol, SES shouldn't be called up? So the top italian scorer shouldn't be called up? That's what your saying? The kid have carried acm throughout the season, without a doubt he's been the best player in Seria A this season. I smell Juve envy long way.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 8:45pm
One of the problems with applying the 4-3-3 is that there are so few talented right wingers. In today's game, wingers aren't exactly wingers; they don't just sprint to the by-line and make a cross. Now, they like to cut inside and be a little more creative (ex. El Shaarawy). There are very few of these kinds of right wingers because most players right-footed (so they can't cut inside). Calling up Cerci is great because he's dangerous enough to fill the role well. Hope it works.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 7:19pm
A lot of question marks and great potential. Montolivo has played for the national side but he has been inconsistent anyone remember him against Barcelona, Marchisio ha some great potential still unsure if it is offensive or defenive. De Sciglio has outplayed Abate this year, but Abate has that speed. Balo, Gio, the pharoah are phenoms, and let's bring back Totti and Cassano for the WC. They csn score in the last 10 minutes of games. Don't forget Rossi, Osvaldo and Insigne. Finally Veratti
on the 19th March, 2013 at 5:59pm
I say a 4-2-3-1 is the best option for italy,
pirlo-de rossi
this would be the most versatile and include an excellent midfield
on the 19th March, 2013 at 5:56pm
Agree - 352 is the way to go. Juve core will be good for italy, just like barca core for spain was fruitfull. strong league club always translates into strong national team - and this is from a milan fan.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 5:52pm
For me the starting line up is: Buffon, Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio, Giovinco, SES and Balotelli. Admittedly slightly weak down the right hand side but Cerci is not the answer! Also no point judging Italy by friendlies. We all know this by now surely!?
on the 19th March, 2013 at 5:26pm
The criticism of Marchisio is harsh. He had a good tournament in the Euros. Unfortunately it means Monty probably should not start since I think Pirlo (guile), De Rossi (tackling) and Marchisio (breaks) complement each other well. For the players we have either 3-5-2 or 4-3-3 suits much better. My preference is 4-3-3 given SES's perfromances this season. @Dan Giambrone even Juve and Inter fans must admire his performances this season.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 5:23pm
I agree with you il cannibale! Italy look far more secure when using a 352. Bonucci is not convincing in a back 4, neither is Maggio. I feel that Prandelli is trying too hard to accomodate SES. I would not have called the Milan man up. He has been a little powder-puff since Xmas. He could do with a rest.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 4:53pm
I am happy with the Cerci call up. He has great ability and pace-something that the side lacks. He is lazy though, and has to work harder when the team hasn't got the ball. Di Sciglio should now be our left back. 4 keepers again?! And De Sanctis?! He is an awful keeper, & Napoli have lost a lot of points because of him.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 4:44pm
the criticism of Marchisio is confusing. Same for Cerci who has impressed. I see quite a bit of francesco morriero in Cerci, and I don't see why he can't pull his socks up and play with pride. He certainly has the tools to succeed. But judging Italy during friendlies is as ill advised as hyping up the Germans before the latter stages of tournaments. But I will say that I'm v.disappointed with Prandelli once again ignoring Pasqual. Manuel has been fantastic for so long. deserves to be regular.
on the 19th March, 2013 at 3:30pm

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