Friday June 7 2013
Italy poor in Prague

Italy stuttered to a goalless draw with the Czech Republic, so Susy Campanale cast her eye over the match.

Well, that was poor. Not a single genuine shot on target, while the Czech Republic were left cursing the woodwork, Gigi Buffon’s cat-like reflexes and the fact Tomas Rosicky can’t aim. Mario Balotelli got himself sent off and took it out on the perspex wall of the Italy dugout, suggesting a career in boxing would suit him if the football falls apart. In other words, a typical Italy performance in June.

The Azzurri never raise their game at this stage of the season, we all know it, so to grab a point in the circumstances was excellent news. The Czechs were sharper, smarter and clearly more up for the match from start to finish, so we have to thank Buffon for this draw. Nobody else in the team made the slightest impact.

What have we learned from this World Cup qualifier? Giorgio Chiellini is a wonderful centre-back, but no longer a great left-back. Those days are behind him and we should shelve Leonardo Bonucci, perhaps giving the versatile Mattia De Sciglio a go down the left. Riccardo Montolivo has tried to explain in every conceivable way that he doesn’t like playing as a trequartista, but Cesare Prandelli persists in using him behind the strikers. Stephan El Shaarawy is tired, low on confidence and still hasn’t worked out how to play alongside Balotelli effectively.

I expect many blogs and articles on why the red card proves Balotelli is a loose cannon who cannot be trusted representing the Azzurri jersey. All hyperbole fuelled by his reputation. This was his first dismissal in over a year in all competition and watching the game was extremely harsh. The yellow card for a tackle from behind was perfectly acceptable, but the second just three minutes later for a mid-air clash with Gebre Selassie was unnecessary. His performance up to that point had been poor, but no worse than any of his teammates on the night. His only real error was failing to pass to an unmarked Montolivo, trying instead to turn between two defenders and get a shot away.

We must stop expecting Balotelli to turn on the style and bag a brace in every single game. He is already vastly more consistent than he was and let’s not forget both he and El Shaarawy are young enough to be in the European Under-21 Championships right now. Here’s hoping the dismissal and bruise on his fist from punching the wall will help Mario learn to control his frustration a little better, while Italy can relish the fact they still earned a point despite a dismal performance. No harm done, onwards and upwards.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
@Strummerman. How much of Abate do you see ?? Clearly not too much. I'm a Milan fan and I see him every game. To say that his crosses ALWAYS go astray is very inaccurate. Funny how people judge players based on one game. Try watching him more often. And if you do tell me you watch him all the time then I'd say get some spectacles lol.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 2:33pm
BLAME PRANDELLI! Azzurri w/Prandelli! Hmm better think twice. Yes, THANK YOU MR. Buffon you are my hero:) Pirlo a great player but it is not his year! I doubt the Azzurri do good in confederations cup. Why? simply because Prandelli does not bring the best out of his players. I even think sometimes he is clueless because he is not very good in reading the games!!! The game with Czech Republic proved it, but it is not a game to prove my point, look at his 2&half yrs NO CONSISTENCY, Have u noticed!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 12:03pm
What a joke one bad performance and this?!?! Is everyone forgetting less than a year ago what happened? Prandelli has been nothing short of majestic. Then I'm reading Di Natalie to be in the squad?!?! Haha and people saying marchisio is rubbish PLEASE!!!!!!! And to the idiot that said he's never seen him have a good game, well watch back 2012 euros you idiot.

This is why I hate being Italian one bad game and everyone moaning and slagging Italy off. Go back in your holes
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:47am
I feel that it is a little harsh having a go at Montolivo. He has said many times that he prefers to play in a deeper position, & watching his performances for Milan, you can see this. Going back to Chiellini; would Brazil play Silva at LB, or Germany play Hummels at LB? Prandelli's decision to take Gilardino as Balotelli's back up is looking worse by the minute. The only positive was Buffon. He rarely gets tested, but last night he passed with flying colours! What a legend-man & footballer!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:37am
Can't comment too much on the game as I didn't watch it,however, I gather that apart from Buffon,Italy were pretty poor.What's new then? This is nothing, brace yourselves for the forthcoming Confederation cup where we will all be scratching our heads in disbelief and demanding wholesale changes. This will probably happen during the first round of the actual World Cup 2014 with us scraping through with the help of Padre Pio and then get drawn against Germany! At this point our smile will return.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:32am
I wonder what you Milan, Juve, & Roma fans think of the stories linking: SES, Marchisio, & De Rossi with big money moves abroad? Would you be tempted to sell?
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:27am
Oh dear!! If we think we can beat Spain in the World Cup Final 2014 with this
team then football must be very well arranged??? Overall for Italy, collectively Bonucci and Chiellini Just dont seem to get right, they just seem to get in each other's way, Chiellini
needs a new partner? I can't believe also that Prandelli expects De Rossi and Pirlo to start in or finish every game during WC14- these players peaked in WC2006! with Pirlo having a bit of a renaissance in EUR2012.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:13am
For once Susy I thought you brought up good points. Pre tournament & Aug-Sept the Auzurri are always poor. We can talk about how wonderful the U21 players were but they are playing against U21's notfull internationals. A top international side needs the correct blend of both which CP is attempting. Czech are not a poor side and 1 point away is a point towards Brazil and if you can play poorly and still come away with a point you are heading in the right direction. FORZA ITALIA
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:08am
I think that Prandelli needs to change his formation, why play something that these players don't play on a weekly basis?
Juventus - 3 5 2
Napoli - 3 5 2
Inter and a number of other teams were also playing a 3 5 2 last season

The players are used to this set up and what is really driving me mad watching Italy at the moment is trying to "create" a trequartista. Marchisio, Montolivio, Giaccherini, Giovinco and Diamanti cannot play this role. Italy needs to change their ideas asap
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:32am
Its a shame a few of our younger talents are on u21 Euro duty, would have done the Azzurri the world of good.Verrati, Insigne etc were excellent the other night.Further more they would of run riot against the czech midfield ,also compliment Balo, Elswy,Giov, style of play.Still at least we came away with a point.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:25am
Stating the obvious I know, but the poorest performance from Italy under Prandelli. The side lacked sharpness and urgency. Ferguson used to replace three players in one go when similar situations arose at Manchester United and our coach should have done the same. But the table still looks very good and we will still qualify. I just hope we don't get embarrassed at the Confederations Cup!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:18am
Decent result, terrible performance. I'm not buying the June excuse, why should this be exclusive to us. If Prandelli wants to play the 3 Juve cb's, then he should switch to a 352. Chiellini just doesn't offer anything going forward as a Lb; this means opponents can attack us more down this flank. All SES & Marchisio seem to do is run and little else. De Rossi & Pirlo were disappointing, with Pirlo looking his age, & De Rossi looking very sluggish. I hope our under 21's can cheer us up!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:14am
@strummerman - Marchisio was invisible down to the moment Italy was left to 10 men. Then he actually started playing.. I don't know what keeps him hiding there.. And yes, stop using Monntolivo. By the way, what is Giovinco still doing in the team?!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:04am
Mr Prandelli:

If 4312, Why persist with Montolivo?

Marchisio, I have never seen him have a good game for Italia?

Pirlo, Genius though he is, is becoming too easy to read, too slow in defence and we ove rely on him to start attacks.

Do Not let Bonnucci play his way out of defence, better still, play Ogbonna.

Chiellini is one of the best CB's in the world.

(Balotelli got unlucky)

It is a shame that the U-21 and Confeds run concurently as we could do with Verratti, Insigne and Florenzi.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 7:31am
Yesterday we had a Blog about Giovinco not being fit to wear the number 10. Last night we had 10 players not fit to wear azuurri.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 6:56am
Di natale, rossi, cassano and osvaldo if all fit and playing well should be in the squad. We have no goal threat with gila and giovinco. Also el sha is a good player but at present his confidence in front of goal is low. So apart from mario can anyone tell me where the goals are going to come from in confeds cup? Prandelli needs to get his act together. Does anyone know how many games mario will miss?
on the 8th June, 2013 at 6:55am
The whole team apart from Gigi where awful. Its a bad time of year for the match, but that cant be used as an excuse. Buffon, we love you. A great peformance from him, god knows what we ll do when he retires. Balo was unlucky, people should get off his back. Prandelli hasnt picked the right squad as usual and tactics. It is a valuable point though.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 6:46am
Mama Mia that was a struggle !!! It's about time they Italy play players to play in there best positions . We were lacking pace and creativity because the chechs were much more up for the game! Two decent wing backs with dare I say it 442 formation we then might of got the ball in the box for mario to get on the ball in more as he was playing with back to goal . As for midfield Rossi is past it !! Pirlo has no one doing the donkey work . Monty was our best player along side the goal keeper whos
on the 8th June, 2013 at 6:03am
As Ancelotti said it once "dear Ronaldinho, talent alone is not enough". So true.

Instead of trying to find an artist to carve his statue, Balo should seriously start focusing on understanding the damage he causes with a really foolish red card ... then maybe there will be hope he'll become a pillar instead of a ticking time-bomb.

Overall a very lame team performance, glad to have escaped with a point. But this team should have done much much better.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 3:28am
Marchisio is not an International player or a top Champions League player, as he continues to prove time and time again. If Monaco want to blow a crazy 30 million on him, then Juventus should snap their hands off. Pogba is already on a completely different level in every department and should be first choice next season. Marchisio flatters to deceive and the only way Juventus can possibly win the Champions League and Italy win the World Cup is to drop Marchisio for good.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 2:51am
Funny how you criticized bonucci, yet said nothing about abate.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 2:15am
Italy need to start caring more about performing at the national stage. Italy also needs to find a way to get Giovinco to become a more dangerous and consistent player. He has all the skills in the world but plays very small. Yes he is actually small but so is Messi, Baggio, delpiero, maradona. All small players that could change the game at any time, Is Giovinco as good, maybe not but does have some bursts of brilliance. Great skills. Balotelli will give Italy hope if he keeps his head!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 1:46am
I have a bad feeling 2014 will be about Balotelli, and for all the wrong reasons.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 12:00am
This was as poor a performance since world cup 2010. Prandelli has to accept blame for many things:
Pirlo- Why did he have to play 90 minutes aginst San Marino? He looked tired and out of sorts today and was taken out early.
Claudio Marchisio was again invisible. It seeme to me Diamanti is much more dynamic a player at this point.
Chiellini was forced to play with the ball a total waste.
Abate is a defensive liability. Yes he has offensive skills except for crosses which always go astray.
on the 7th June, 2013 at 11:30pm
We really missed Balzaretti on the left hand side, it would of given us more width i hope he makes it to Brazil we realy need him, and dear i say it Osvaldo as well, should of put on Maggio and Diamanti to wake the side up. The whole team tonight was poor apart from Buffon hes the one that kept us in the game. But how many times have we seen this from Italy before a big tourment
on the 7th June, 2013 at 11:11pm
Your spot on Susy! This performance was always gonna happen, a typical June Italian performance. The fact that we came away with the draw was a miracle, Buffon proves once again why he is our only choice between the sticks and the fact that the Czechs must of been wearing clown shoes helped.
Also I hope people will grow up and give Mario a break, like you said in over a year since Mario's brain burst, but was this one warranted....I think not!!
on the 7th June, 2013 at 11:06pm
very good assessment susy. agreed. the azzurri should just be happy in this case which was a poor performance that earned them getting a draw (1pt) away in czech. moving on.
on the 7th June, 2013 at 11:03pm
Shelve Leonardo Bonucci? You sure about that? I agree Chiellini is no left back but for me Barzagli should be the one to go, not sure he is good enough at international level when playing in a back four (back three might be different though)

Many might disagree but for me De Rossi should be benched and Montolivo played deeper. De Rossi isn't dynamic enough compared to other modern midfielders and it just doesn't work in the national team when he plays alongside Pirlo
on the 7th June, 2013 at 10:56pm
Agreed Chiellini is not a LB and should be in the CB. This makes Bonucci the man on the bench. Montolivo is terrible as trequartista (and anywhere else)
on the 7th June, 2013 at 10:35pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.