Wednesday June 26 2013
Are Italy turning into Fiorentina?

Italy’s defensive issues at the Confederations Cup have rekindled memories of Cesare Prandelli’s Fiorentina side for Giancarlo Rinaldi…

For Italian fans, it has been a pretty traumatic experience. Eight goals conceded in just three matches is not what followers of the Azzurri are used to. But, for tifosi of the club side where Cesare Prandelli clinched his promotion to La Nazionale, it will have had a pretty familiar ring.

Back then it was usually all about the "chains" - le catene - the overlapping work of full-backs and midfielders on the flanks in his 4-2-3-1 formation. Sometimes the left-side worked, on other occasions it was the right. And, when they both functioned simultaneously, the Viola were a glorious sight to behold. But it could be a little bit scary when it went wrong.

In truth, other than his final season in charge at the Artemio Franchi, Prandelli generally produced sides which were pretty solid at the back. In his first term in charge their defensive ranking – 4th – matched their attack. In all four campaigns after that, the backline performed better in Serie A terms than their goalscoring counterparts. Over five years in the top Division, they conceded about a goal a game.

It was once he got to elite competition, however, that the more madcap displays akin to Italy at the Confederations Cup this year started to emerge. The Viola's Champions League efforts in 2009-10 were always gripping but often induced heart-failure in their followers. It sometimes felt like they were determined to stand toe-to-toe with an opponent, trying to score one more goal to clinch victory.

In 10 outings, they managed just two clean sheets – in home games to Liverpool and Lyon. In half of their matches they conceded at least two goals. It was a rollercoaster of emotions similar to those which the Azzurri have conjured up of late.

They qualified for the group stages of the Champions League on away goals after two scoring draws with Sporting Lisbon. Their clashes with Debrecen of Hungary produced a total of 14 goals – six of them finding their way past Sebastien Frey and the ever-bungling Vlada Avramov in the Florentine goal. Elimination, when it came, was via away goals after a controversial 4-4 aggregate draw with Bayern Munich. If you wanted a Twitter hashtag to their campaign it might well have been #breathless.

Now Italy supporters are getting treated to more of the same. In his effort to put the emphasis on attack and get his team to take the game to opponents, some big gaps have emerged at the back. For veteran Azzurri watchers it is something of a shock, but to Viola followers it is bringing back a lot of memories.

And, as coincidence has it, it looks like Prandelli might have to turn to his talisman from his time in Florence if he hopes to make it any further in Brazil. With Mario Balotelli out through injury, Alberto Gilardino would be his natural replacement. And, as Riccardo Montolivo is also likely to feature, fans could be forgiven for double checking if the normal blue of their country has taken on a slightly purple tinge.

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

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with

Have your say...
...... his contiued love for gilardino; 1 of if not THE worst footballer I have ever seen, italy ran and ran and played so well yet he did nothing but always looks like he has run a marathon. Look at the players prandelli could have brought with him. Then il take you back to final last year. He changed everything used the same players who were injured and didnt use 6 players he brought at all. We went thro 4 diffrent systems in 1 campaign. Prandelli in my opinion is just not strong enough.
on the 29th June, 2013 at 8:07am
Il always doubt prandelli and those of you that base the performance against spain on the entire prandelli raign are deluded! Yes hats off to prandelli for a stunning performance but ppl please do not forget we conceded 8 goals in 3 games. We have no signiture system. He changes game on game and look very average in the process. He brings giovinco on against spain with system that relys on crossing from the wings- hes 3 foot 2 he is a winger! All because he failed to bring strkers that score....
on the 29th June, 2013 at 8:01am
Gilo is the best we could bring to Brazil? Can someone please help me understand why from ALL of Italia we bring this 30 yr old pomodoro?
on the 29th June, 2013 at 4:16am
Tic tac football is almost finished!!! Italy were world class last nite. We fell short because prandellis endless fascination with gilardino, I can not put into words just how much it baffles me as to how he ever became a footballer! This formation works so well so I hope he keeps to it and lets us become a master of this system. Pazzini, destro, matri, qualiarella just a hand full of strikers he could have brought instead of that useless twat he brought with him!
on the 28th June, 2013 at 9:41am
If we had played 3 at the back in the other 3 games we would have hardly conceded any goals. Now lets aim to beat urugray, then have a well earned break. If everyone is fit and cesare picks the right players then with a bit of luck we can go close next summer. Playing the confeds cup is vital in terms of us getting use to the climate and recovery time between games, this hopefully will hold us in good stead next year.
on the 28th June, 2013 at 9:20am
Ogbonna going to juve is good news for Italy as he will play with Chiellini, Barza, and Bonucci. Again would like Roncaglia called up. Spain mentally are so strong, we score 6 straight penalties after going first and they still win. Its frustrating we where better than them last night and better in first euro game yet didnt win either, again we just need to be more potent in front of goal and we can beat anyone. Again great tactics and performance. Proud very proud.
on the 28th June, 2013 at 9:16am
Great performance last night. We need to start been more clinical in front of goal or we will continue to dominate games and lose. Had we had Mario, Di Natale, Cassano, Rossi and Osvaldo in the squad we would have won last night. We have to play 3 at the back all the time now, we all see how well this works for us. All where great last night, special praise for candreva and de rossi they where outstanding, and Gigi had a great game, champions respond. Also praise to prandelli.
on the 28th June, 2013 at 9:08am
Okay could all those people criticising Prandelli please hold their hands up. I'm glad we have Prandelli as our manager not people making comments on here. Having said that he did move to 3-6(?)-1! De Rossi at swipper works so well I have no idea why this is not used more often! Shame about the result but what a performance.
on the 28th June, 2013 at 8:25am
Prandelli is the most underrated tactical coach out there! He has such a great footballing brain and always alters his tactics to best suit the game at hand. He often gets criticized for this, but last night he was the first coach to nullify the spanish team! I hope he sticks with this formation going forward so that we can have a strong defense to rely on. Maggio is suited to wing-back and this gives us an advantage. Imagine this formation with Balotelli up front and Rossi and Cassano as the su
on the 28th June, 2013 at 7:50am
Lets hope the CP knockers are kept quiet for a while. The Azzurri played a superb match and what I consider a good friendly tournament where we have heartbreak on penalties. 3-5-2-1 worked well and Gila came in and replaced Balotelli with good effect. Well done CP you are in the process of building a very good Azzurri side. FORZA ITALIA and please knockers support them
on the 28th June, 2013 at 6:00am

What Do we get? One of the best performances the azzuro have Dole the last couple of years?
on the 28th June, 2013 at 4:02am
Well this blog post looks pretty stupid now doesn't it...
on the 27th June, 2013 at 11:00pm
Play gio and Gila instead of ses and that's what you get. Incredible
on the 27th June, 2013 at 9:52pm
Italia will lose big
on the 27th June, 2013 at 9:09pm

Kind of your "top on" comment of the comment left by lugullo enterprise.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 8:48pm
Viktor do you ever get the impression that some people on here create numerous aliases in a sad effort to put down other people's opinions? On the Milan topic, I agree 100% with Maldini's Heir. There are far too many expensive dead-wood players in Milan's squad. There is little common sense being exercised. With FFP around the corner, clubs really should place an emphasis on youth, & not sign average players on large contracts. What was the point in signing Traore, when you have Cristante?
on the 27th June, 2013 at 6:56pm
if i was prandelli; 3-5-2 with de rossi as playing center back, with barzagli & chiellini flanking him real close. then, a loaded midfield that has pirlo, marcishio protecting him, while montolivo in front of them at a more advanced role. two attacking flank defenders jusr bombing up and down the touchlines! finally, ses supporting gilardino up front.
this will make for a very exciting game!
on the 27th June, 2013 at 5:29pm

That added immense value to the topic. Sad is a person who contribute with boning but hating, such as yourself. Sad
on the 27th June, 2013 at 5:04pm
It pisses me off to know that today when I watch the game I no we will lose and if not lucky loose horribly. For the Pride and Great history of La Nazionale we should never have to face this kind reality and doubt in are team. At this point it's necessary. And to blame has to be Prandelli. Can't blame the players because the players who don't belong and are not good enough once again Prandelli calls them. We all know how he is with Formations. After the reality check tonight it's time to wake up
on the 27th June, 2013 at 4:45pm
Marcello your absolutely right.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 4:31pm
@anonymous I agree with you your right about montolivo but we do have the replacements for Pirlo and De Rossi. Verratti and Cigarini but Prandelli don't have them on the squad which is pure stupidity.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 4:25pm

You are just to sad of a person.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 3:13pm
I love ppl who say it's entertaining futbol. You sound American. You know what's entertaining to me? 4 World Cup victories, on the backs of great defense. The world hated it, but could not deny it. Now we are another team in the pot, able to outscore Japan (barely) but it wont happen against the greats. We saw it with Brazil and sadly we will see it today. Aside from that, the player selection is baffling. I'd rather have Motta, Verratti and Insigne than Cerci, Aquilani and the dreadful Gilo!
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:56pm
Lugullo Enterprise@

First of all I find 5 ex fiorentina players in this evnings starting XI so your argument just shows how little You know about football.
After you embarresd your self with that statement you go on and critises a couple of the clubs with the absolute best youngsters in italy.
You just don't have a clue about what you are talking about do you?
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:49pm
@Maldinis heir

Bonera and muntari are NOT starters that's what I meant.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:34pm
This is a very good article. Not only does it comprise of lots of humour, it is also quite insightful. Thank you for such a collection Giancarlo Rinaldi. But as a person who has supported Italy since 1990, there is cause for concern. That defending is unacceptable.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:31pm
@ Victor the point I am meeting is that Milan, as an example, have a squad which is too big and filled with fringe players who we are paying high salaries to and who are taking the places of youth team players. Those same youth team players would be in the first team squad (not team) in other countries. We also have the farcical situation of having a further 42 players on our books on loan and co-ownerships. Inter are busy selling U21s to German teams. And we wonder why we cannot compete.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:16pm
Gilardino will score tonight..mark my words...i have faith in him.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:11pm
Italy struggled against Brazil because they were missing Pirlo and De Rossi and don't have adequate replacements for them- this is a real problem as Montolivo does not have the moxie at international level- he goes missing most of the match. Two of Brazil's goals seemed offside as well.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 1:36pm
Rule of thumb is, 9 out of 10 times what you see during the rehearsal that is what you will get during the actual tournament. Of course there are exceptions to every rule but i wonder... if we refuse to be critical of the weaknesses during a rehearsal, do we still have the right to be surprised when the results during the actual tournament are well below expectations. During the Lippi era, we won the WC, what we saw after the WC were warning signs of what was to happen in S. Africa, yet majority of us were surprised that we didn't make it out of the group..
on the 27th June, 2013 at 1:12pm

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.