Thursday August 15 2013
Italy fall flat at the Papal party

A lack of faith, precious little hope and a lot of defensive charity. Giancarlo Rinaldi takes a closer look at Italy’s 2-1 loss to Argentina.

As nights of celebration go it was a one-sided affair. It was the land of Pope Francis’ birth which had much more to savour than that of his ancestors. To assess Italy’s display in terms of theological virtues there was a lack of faith, precious little hope – and a lot of defensive charity.

We have come to expect such performances, of course, in the Azzurri’s early season appointments. They rarely give their best in the opening stages of any football year. Like your dad’s old Morris Minor with its starting handle, they take a little longer to truly splutter into life.

For much of the match, this was typically lackadaisical Italian stuff. They were ineffective in attack, overrun in midfield and sloppy in defence. It might only have been a sparring match, but it was easy enough to tell who packed the more power in their punches.

So it came as no surprise when the visitors took the lead nor who scored the goal. Napoli’s Argentinian employees have caused La Nazionale plenty of trouble in the past and Gonzalo Higuain pounced in impressive style. On this evidence, fans of the Partenopei need not fret too much about Edinson Cavani’s departure.

A goal which should have brought Cesare Prandelli’s men to life singularly failed to rouse them from their slumber. Instead, they slipped further behind to a sweet Ever Banega strike in the second half. And still it would take another 15 minutes or so and a string of changes to see any alteration in their attitude.

The final quarter of the match gave the only glimmer of light. Alessandro Diamanti glinted under the floodlights, Lorenzo Insigne produced a laser-guided goal and finally there was a bit of brightness about Italy’s play. It was all too little and too late to trouble as expert a side as Argentina, but it did at least lift the darkness which had threatened to engulf their entire performance.

But the final whistle undoubtedly brought with it more negative than positive reflections. Pablo Osvaldo proved a poor stand-in for Mario Balotelli, Marco Verratti needs more time to grow into the Andrea Pirlo role and the whole defence struggled to cope with the Albiceleste’s undeniably classy performers. If you were harbouring hopes of seeing Gigi Buffon lift the World Cup next summer, this was a pretty brusque dismissal of such dreams.

The only thing which might keep those aspirations alive was the spirit shown in the closing stages of this Roman clash. When Italy went a bit more gung-ho they were able to rattle Alejandro Sabella’s side. That attitude – like the upturned hull of a boat in stormy seas – is something for Azzurri fans to cling onto.

Prandelli’s men will hope to show, as they have so often in the past, that when the matches really matter they can raise their game. And they will get a chance to do so pretty soon with vital qualifying games against Bulgaria and the Czech Republic on the horizon. They will aim to show that the approach displayed in the final moments of the Argentina game can be seen for an entire 90 minutes. Otherwise, the Pope might have just one team to support in Brazil next summer.

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Have your say...
de rossi
bunocci chiellini
maggio pirlo giaccherini
candreva marchisio
balotelli insigne

de sciglio ranocchia ogbonna criscito
montolivo felorenzi
diamanti Osvaldo el shaaravi
on the 18th August, 2013 at 4:23pm
The problems persist with no hope of a resolution under Prandelli. Yet the solution isn't far-fetched!

He continues to ignore players who could win games and titles for our beloved Italy. Most other countries envy the number and quality of players Italy posseses, yet Italy values them ot, or so I think!

Some players do not fit into the Nazionale, while others who should be near-automatic choices are left to languish outside of the Azzurri set up.

So painful a thought...!!!
on the 18th August, 2013 at 3:37am

Was not referring when they play for Juventus, However in the champions league they were destroyed by Bayern and in the in confed cup up they were easily beaten. Examples Fred overpowering Chiellini, Japan running right by the dmen. Totally agree with other sGiacherrini and Marchisio were humbled by Argentina
on the 16th August, 2013 at 8:01pm
@ bosco

No honey, you suck. Marchisio if deployed right, he performs.
on the 16th August, 2013 at 3:22pm
This was only a friendly and Italy never show up for them. 3-5-2 is the way to go at the WC. If Prandelli tries any other formation, it will be semis and out.
on the 16th August, 2013 at 2:54pm
This is typical Italian post-game analysis. Emphasize the negatives from a victory, downplay the positives in a defeat. Italy, despite having had defensive problems on the Argentine counter, enjoyed large spells of posession, looked lively moving forward, and for the most part, confined Argentina to the counter. I wouldn't go so far to say that Italy deserved the win, or that they played great - but this article is far from accurate in its assessment of their performance.
on the 16th August, 2013 at 2:50pm
Prandelli doesn't seem to learn his lessons I rate him he's a good manager doing great things just doesn't seem to to realise his mistakes I think 3 at back is a must but prandelli really is against it even tho in two games v Spain we played fantasic he needs to try it agasint other teams on the plus side we are very close to the top teams at the moment just needs to get his tactics right!!! But hey it was a friendly like I said as long as lessons are learned
on the 16th August, 2013 at 8:18am
Marchisio sucks. He may be a good player for Juve but he has done absolutely nothing for Italy. Nothing at all. I don't understand how he is an automatic selection.
on the 16th August, 2013 at 7:08am
I like the flair kind of football that Italy has played under Prandelli. But i don't like the way Italy has lost its defensive discipline. The team is so pathetic at the back. I wonder whether this is the italy that was known for producing the best defenders in the world. Then, i am hurt by the fact that prandelli continues to tinker with the system he should consistently use. By now he should know which system allows his team to be more effective throughout. The 3-5-2 has been a hit for italy. Why then does he overlook it? I thought he learnt a lesson when in d opening game against spain at d euros it brought a respectable 1-1. In d final he went for a 4-2-3-1 and italy were murdered 4-0. But until now, prandelli appears to have learnt nothing. It is sickening. Thanks for the article giancarlo. It was insightful.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 7:52pm
I refuse to watch Italy when Osvaldo is wearing the shirt. It is an absolute tragedy that he is playing over El Shaar, and i won't support it.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 6:51pm
There is one obvious answer to the question, "What does Italy need to win the World Cup next year?" His name is Francesco Totti. He, at 37, is still top 5 in the world in terms of vision, creativity and play making. Him and Pirlo together on the pitch would be incredible.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 5:02pm
Really people?? Really? Does nobody get it? It's a friendly. Since when does Italy even care or get results against ANY team in friendlies. The fact that they beat Spain a couple years ago was the rare exception. Why all this complaining and they should have done this and that??? It's the same thing every time. Did they not lose their last friendly against a very tiny team before the Confed Cup tourney? And then they nearly and were lucky not to beat Spain. Come on people!!!
on the 15th August, 2013 at 4:25pm
r you joking. Juve defense is the best in italy. They even managed to get into QF of UCL where Milan couldn't. you have to observe carefully before you state juve defense is awfully. Those game you mentioned, is a game where italy play with four man defense system. Every time italy play with three man defense, italy look awesome. Even spain couldn't create many chances.
The problem is CP is so fixated with this four man defense. he is too stubborn to adapt his tactics to his players
on the 15th August, 2013 at 3:25pm
Like I was saying, Giach and Marchisio just are not suited to play behind the striker. As soon as Insigne came on the attack looked much more likely to produce something. If we are using a 4-3-2-1 then we should have REAL support strikers/AM. Insigne, SES, or Florenzi playing in the support roles is a must. Creativity and dynamism is much needed in the final third and we have young, fast, talented players to do this. JUST USE THEM!
on the 15th August, 2013 at 3:06pm
Hopefully G.Rossi will find his form and return to the Nazionale and partner either Balo or Insigne.Not worried at the moment as the season hasnt started yet.But need to deliver when it matters. Please no Osvaldo or Gilardino.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 3:02pm
I will agree with most people on this point...What game was the author watching? The game I watched Italia actually seemed to control most of the match via the midfield with Argentina playing a devastating counter attack. I will completely disagree with those suggesting the formation is the problem. The problem is simply this: Marchisio, Giachiarini ARE NOT support strikers or attacking midfielders. The are good hard working CMs, but the lack creativity and the cutting edge.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 3:01pm
Cigarini is better than Verratti flat out he provided German Denis with 15 goals last year one off from Osvaldo imagine what he and Pirlo and De Rossi can provide to Balo, Rossi, Di Natale and Insigne he is the one who is the closest to Pirlo and he should be his replacement it's an absolute joke he hasn't been called up since 2012 here a guy who could be playing at any top italian side but choose to remain at Atalanta because he has class and for that he is being punished.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 2:56pm
Have to say I was impressed by veratti. Montilivo in my opinion best on the field. Read someone said aquillani did better which to me is a huge surprise. Ses was rested for CL qualifier next week.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 2:50pm
I don't understand this article. Italy was good for long periods of this match. After the higuain goal, they created a flurry of chances (one of which marchisio might have scored). When Prandelli made changes for the second half the team lost its cohesiveness and went back to laziness. But they ended the half well, piling on the pressure. This is just typical Italy.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 2:46pm
Verratti does not look ready i agree Sam he didn't look that great at the under 21s either but he is young and has a big upside it is just not his time right now after WC2014 that's when he needs to be ready to take over in the middle. Besides that Luca Cigarini is the best Italian midfielder aside from Pirlo and I think he is better than Pirlo at this point of Andreas career. Never off point he always makes the smart decision and actually provides the strikers with great scoring chances.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 2:40pm
Questions need to be asked about Marchisio he has not performed up to the standards of Nazionale but I still like him and think if on form could be a solid piece of the puzzle. De Rossi is a Midfielder and thats we're he belongs although he didn't do bad back there which just shows his quality. Rossi, Balo, Di Natale, Insigne are the destined to be attack for Nazionale that will clean up a big mess in the squad once there all called upon ridiculous Prandelli hasn't rolled with them already.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 2:29pm
It was imminent to to tell we would have trouble finding the net considering the starting 11 Prandelli fielded mainly the front 3. Giaccherini playing as a second strikers is one of the worst tactical moves Prandelli has made. Candreva's whole purpose for a call up is to provide scoring chances and score some goals and he has not and can't do that at all, he is a lost cause. Osvaldo needs everyone to play through him if he is going to be effective otherwise he's a ghost out there.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 2:19pm
'maldini's heir' has a valid point. prandelli experimentation twice against spain was successful. so a 3-5-2 with ddr as a alone center back, flanked by chielini and bonucci. move maggio and de silgio into wide midfielders roles that defend and attack, it would be 5 in the midfield. then 2 upfront. whether its balotelli, or alternative osvaldo, they would need support. that's where ses or giovinco come into play. there was confusion out there, and lack of fitness and the quality of argentina.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 12:57pm
Honestly even with Totti's lack of mobility isn't he a vast improvement on Marchisio. I can just imagine other countries shaking their head when they meet the Azzurri, No Totti, No Cassano, No Di Natale, No Cannavaro, No Pharaoh benched, Insigne plays 20 minutes, Diamanti barely plays, we send out Osvaldo. Why does Italy always try out unproven players?
on the 15th August, 2013 at 12:52pm
We have the August excuses but the problems seem to be ever present since the Czech game. Is Buffon on his final legs? The Juve defence has been battered Japan 3 Brazil 4 Uruguay 2 Argentina 2. The De Rossi experiment did not work yesterday. As well Pirlo looked old at Confed, Verratti looked way too green yesterday. Diamanti has swagger Marchisio has none. 1/2
on the 15th August, 2013 at 12:48pm
352!!!! This coach doesn't belong on the bench. Everytime we use it, we look like champs and everytime we don't, we look like chumps. Aside from v Germany at Euro 2012, which was one game Balo went nuts, we play like crap with 4 at the back. Juve play 65 games a season in the same formation with the best defensive record in the world and consecutive Scudetti and this coach wants to change it? The players are accustomed to this formation, they are comfortable in it. CP = Moron
on the 15th August, 2013 at 12:35pm
Don't understand the persistence of playing Aquilani. When he came on and Montolivio off it changed the complexion of the mid-field. Aquilani can only play the obvious horizontal pass. Give him anymore responsibility and he passes it astray or loses possession. He can only work as a cog in a larger wheel. He can not, CAN NOT give rhythm or control to a MIdfield. He has NO personality and to my mind should never set foot on the pitch for Italy. But Prandelli persists.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 12:33pm
Osvaldo, what in the Pradelli sees in him?

on the 15th August, 2013 at 11:38am
Was I watching a different game? Italy controlled most of it. As usual the finishing was junk, but the overall quality of play was decent enough. Also it was a Friendly for God Sake. Argentina had 4 counter attacks and scored from 2 of them and that it. But to suggest Italy might not qualify, on one friendly in August, behave. Next years world cup semi finalists - Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy. Agrentina haven't been passed a Qtr-final since 1990, ironically the last time England did.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 11:33am
With all my respect to Mr. Rinaldi ,but his opinion is not fair at all. he has to know that Osvaldo is not the main striker and if Balotelli was on the pitch, the result will be turned to Italy by far. On the other hand, you have to "thank" De Rossi for the huge mistakes rather than giving this big credit to the Argentine team who were been shown in Italy's zone by counter attack.
on the 15th August, 2013 at 10:48am

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