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.

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Have your say...
You have to give CP some credit, rebuilding the squad and to get Euro final with not fully fit team. A lot people say he should of done this and that and brought this person and that person. His changed the way we Italy play to. I think we need to forget 2006, those players only come once every so 20-10 years. I believe if we get a good draw in the world cup we could go all the way. Mario and SES got a hole season to link up also looking forward to how CP introducing some u21 in the sqaud
on the 27th June, 2013 at 12:41pm
So prandelli has said that Gilardino will be starting the match. He cant pass the ball, he can't hold the ball, he can't dribble or run with the ball, he won't defend. Who wants to have a bet with me, I say he wont get more than 5 touches on the ball tomorrow. The spain defence will be so bored that they will play as midfielders.

El shaarawy and Giovinco is so much better.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 12:38pm
Seriously everyone needs to calm quickly we forget that in the last 4 meetings against spain we:

Tied in 2008 Euro's and eventually lost to PKS.
Won convincingly 2-1 in Bari
Tied convincingly 1-1 in Euro 2012
Lost 4-0. this was a very inflated score when playing 1/2 game a man down and still managing to maintain possession and really don't look at all that bad.

Have we leaked a lot of goals this tournament? yes, our defense was not up to par. Playing 4 in the back is the culprit
on the 27th June, 2013 at 11:55am
Brazil were very lucky to have beat Italy in the Confederations Cup group game. Let's face it, 3 goals should not have happened as 2 of the goals were clearly offside and one was the result of a Neymar dive, seems he is building a hefty reputation for that! Take the referee blunders away and Italy wins 2-1. That, I consider, the real score in that game. So sick of FIFA bad refs and reluctance to use instant replay! Sep Blatter and Michel Platini are a joke!
on the 27th June, 2013 at 11:50am
@maldinis heir

Neither of the players you just mentioned play in the staring 11. Flamini now and then and he did it great the last 10 games of the season. Muntari or bonera are starters. Milan have a young team as it is, you need a few played with some exp.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 11:01am
It seems SES is going to sit this one out again. I'm not sure whether it is something to do with his physical or mental condition. I would have liked to see him get more playing time. He did seem sharpish when he came on against Brazil. Perhaps a fairly low key summer might help him re-charge his batteries for next season. Hopefully he gets on at some stage this evening and sets the stage on fire! Also I'm a bit bemused by the absence of Giovinico given the options available.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 9:53am
Catenaccio forever, Spain completely dominated us in 2008, we hardly had an effort on their goal. Had it not been for Buffon, we would have been battered. In 2012, we did really well in the group game. The final was just a mess, with too many players carrying knocks, good chances were missed & we were then immediately punished afterwards, & then we went down to 10 men. And, Spain were stronger than they were in 2008.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 9:11am
Nice one Inter! Sell two talented young Italian players, (for peanuts), that would have improved your shocking defence. What are the odds for these two doing really well & being sold on for a considerable profit?! It is so frustrating because, unlike the English game, we actually produce many young talents: who sadly then go on a loan/co-ownership merri-go-round, so that squad places can be left open for average foreign players. It is quite ridiculous!
on the 27th June, 2013 at 8:59am
If Italy want to win Candreva must play!
on the 27th June, 2013 at 8:19am
Our strength is in midfield and attack so it makes sense to adapt our style to make the most of this. Against Spain and there immense quality we will have to adapt or formation to not give them so much space in midfield and in behind but that doesn't mean we have to be defensive.
Embrace the new Italian approach and stop living in the past.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 7:43am
I don't get most of the comments on here. Prandelli is fast removing the defensive, boring, cattenacio tag that other countries often associate with us and we are actually playing some good technical football at times.
Yes its true we are conceding too many goals, but whats the alternative? Sit back, take no risks and lose that way? Remember we haven't got the world class players to play defensive, we have no Nesta, Maldini, Baresi, so by sitting back we are just inviting trouble...
on the 27th June, 2013 at 7:41am
@Catenaccio Forever
Do you seriously want to take the Azzurri back to the dark ages???
There is a new world order in international football and Spain is revolutionizing the game for the better.
The sooner that Italy can play a style of game that is somewhat similar to Spain, the sooner that Italy can challenge for international titles.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:37am
- I dont wantto slag the Poms, but no one wants to watch that football. Bravo Prandelli and forward thinking italian coaches. Look at Trap with Ireland - they hate how defensive he is. And if Mancini were nto so withdrawn in his tactics, he may have challenged a bit better last year. Ancelotti plays attacking football. Conte has a strong base, but scores lots of goals.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:35am
Catenaccio Forever ...seriously shut up. Due you remember the 2002 tournament, or 2004? Italy spend the first two group games doing nothing but looking good, and then realise they have to win by 3 or 4 goals to get through. Ridiculous.

This version of Italy (including the 2012) is the best since 2006, easily. While the final against spain was awful to watch, it is better we made it, and were beaten by the best team of their generation (who are we kidding) then to played like England, look
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:32am
@gurj. This isn't a bad Italy team at all. The worst team I saw was 86 World Cup team and the 2009 confederations cup team. Hate the moaners, get behind cp and the lads, he's done a good job.Made italy into a Top 4 team in world football again behind the likes of spain, germany and brazil. We won't beat Spain but at least
We can leave another tournament with our heads held high. Could be worst we could all support England!..Forza Italia!!!
on the 27th June, 2013 at 2:06am
I would say Giancarlo puts too much emphasis on Prandelli and not enough on the leaky Juve defence. Does anybody remember Juventus prior to Pirlo? Chiellini and Bonucci were gaffe prone and Buffon was not ready to stop unforced errors. Pirlo's ball control and covering up for gaffes has remade the leakiness of those 2. When Pirlo is out of sorts the other 2 revert to their old gaffes.
on the 27th June, 2013 at 12:26am
A coach uses the tools at his disposal which can be very different from week to week, let alone team to team.
To draw comparisons of any kind between present Italy and past Fiorentina is a "bit" over the top.
Do Milan, Chelsea and PSG play similar football because Ancelotti coached them?

For those who say this is the worst Italy side ... well, you are probably young and haven't done your research or old and (luckily) forgot the bad apples :)
on the 27th June, 2013 at 12:11am
Why do people like the revisionism with 4-2-3-1? Fiorentina did not play a 4-2-3-1. You gonna tell me that Mutu was a midfielder? Come on now.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 10:03pm
Great to see some support for CP. His side has reached the Euro 12 final and lost to a talented Spanish side. They have now reached the semis of this competition, and look destine to reach the WC 14. not a bad record.Be careful what some of you wish for. IE the sacking of the Don and wanting Lippi back. Who should CP play in place of MB. I would not have taken him but Gila is the only player who can replace MB like for like. SES needs to come from wide. As for worst Italian side. I remember 1986
on the 26th June, 2013 at 8:22pm
@ Victor they are better and cheaper than Traore, Flamini, Muntari and Bonera for a start. They could easily be in the squad. They would be in a first team squad in Germany and Spain. Looks like Inter are selling all their U21 internationals to German teams. It must because they can't hack it in Serie A? Our youth team system in Italy is such a mess that it's amazing SES and De Sciglio made it. Milan have 30 players out on loan and 12 players in co-ownership deals? This is total chaos.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 7:40pm
Agree with Gurj. This is the worst Italy side ever. Expecting another demolition tomorrow. Maybe some good will come of it though and a more defensive minded coach is picked after next year's WC. The desire to emulate Spain has only brought some good (we are not actually as good as Spain or Brazil in midfield) but alot bad (Italy's defense - the one thing we could always rely on - now stinks). Compare the 2008 and 2012 performances against Spain to see that Prandelli is wrong...............
on the 26th June, 2013 at 7:25pm
I'd take Prandelli over Trappatoni & Lippi, (the 2010 edition). I hate it when Italy sit back & invite trouble onto themselves, or when we sit on one goal leads. We also have to remember that T & L had much better defenders at their disposal. Prandelli will have learned much from this tournament. Hopefully we'll be a lot more solid, & in better physical condition next year. I also expect our attack to be more dangerous with the likes of Rossi & Cassano returning.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 7:10pm
8 goals in 3 games is despicable. Against Japan the defense was shambolic, could easily have conceded 5 or 6.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 7:04pm
@Lugullo Enterprise, I'm not sure anybody could ever back up the claim that fiorentina and napoli are ruining serie a - this season they were two of the most exciting and successful clubs in the league. and @viktor, SES is a great player but a completely different one from gila, who plays much better as a target man / holdup forward than SES ever has. he's no balotelli but he's closer in terms of role, SES plays best when he can wander and work the flanks more
on the 26th June, 2013 at 6:37pm
Whatever...However, i see Italy in the final. Trust me when i say we will overcome Diavolo for life !!!
on the 26th June, 2013 at 5:13pm
Lugullo Enterprise, did you even read the article ?
on the 26th June, 2013 at 5:05pm
@Maldini's Heir

"At Milan Christante, Ganz and Petagna are easily better than some of the current first team."

Interesting.. who are they easily better then? Better then the current first team? Ganz is not better then Balo, SES, or Pazzo.
Christante( massive talent) is 18 and is not better then Monti or Flamini or dejong etc.
Petagna is 17, and same goes for him he's not better current striker we have.

They have tons potential and I want them to grow but better then starting 11, hardly.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 4:01pm
@Lugullo Enterprise

Spot on.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 3:20pm
Can anyone tell me why CP isnt trying out SES even tho hes lack of form lately. Much better option then Gila. SES did awesome until the pressure from Balo. Give him the chance against Spain, Gila has been rubbish for years now. I'm shocked.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 3:16pm
Maldini's Heir speaks the truth.

Buffon stepping down for Sirigu and Bardi would be a huge step in the right direction for next year's world cup.
on the 26th June, 2013 at 3:01pm

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