Saturday November 16 2013
Azzurri gain from German test

Italy are still Germany’s bête noir, but Susy Campanale hopes Cesare Prandelli learned from this experiment.

Italy extended their unbeaten run against Germany to 18 years, though there were positives and negatives in this 1-1 stalemate. These friendlies to prepare for the World Cup are meant to allow experimentation and some results are already in: Daniel Osvaldo and Mario Balotelli do not make a strike partnership. They are too similar and trip up over each other, so the Southampton man should now only be seen as an alternative to SuperMario. Besides which, one trigger-happy red card addict is quite enough for this line-up. Similarly, Thiago Motta feels like an unnecessary addition if Andrea Pirlo is already playing. These experiments stood out more for what didn't work than what did, but that's still an important learning curve.

I would like to see Cesare Prandelli test out the 4-2-3-1 system, making the most of the many attacking midfielders we have at our disposal. If the Azzurri want to speed up the tempo, then having a crowd of players ready to push up and support Balotelli would be the ideal solution. Naturally, we are all waiting for Giuseppe Rossi to forge that pairing with Balo, but so far injuries have kept them apart. It is an intriguing idea to see the Fiorentina Capocannoniere threading passes through for the brawny Milan striker.

It was reassuring to see Domenico Criscito in the side after a year away from the blue jersey, as with him the left-back slot would seem assured. Ignazio Abate needs to work on his crosses, but has pace and stamina, while I hope Mattia De Sciglio will eventually shake off his Milan-induced injury crisis. Daniele De Rossi was sorely missed on Friday night and, even with Roma’s remarkable start to the season, people underestimate just what a key figure he is in Italy’s midfield.

Team selections aside, I remain confused by Italy’s mentality. We all know they don’t give their best in friendlies, having beaten only San Marino in a non-competitive game over the past two years, but even then Germany should’ve provided the spark needed. Prandelli continues to speak of humility and warns we “cannot think of dominating Germany.” Why not? Ahead of the 2006 World Cup, Marcello Lippi’s men took the game to the Germans on their own turf in another friendly, a sign of what was to come in the semi-final.

They started with the perfect mentality, putting them under pressure and pouring forward from the get-go. Once Mats Hummels rose to meet a corner and give his side the lead, the Azzurri lost their way completely. All confidence seemed to be sapped and it took a good 20 minutes before Abate’s goal allowed them to lift their heads. This mental fragility is a big warning sign going into the World Cup, where a team simply cannot afford to sulk for such long periods. It’s almost as if the squad is absorbing the personality traits of Balotelli and Osvaldo. Hopefully the return of Rossi and De Rossi will see the side take on their battling characters instead. 

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Have your say...
@tonyita I will too!!! Hoping for a good performance, and to see Rossi alongside Balotelli. One thing that really bugs me is the inclusion of Osvaldo. I don't see what he brings to the team at all. I know we need a sub for Balotelli, but neither he or Gilardino is th answer. I would try Gabbiadini or Immobile, but that's my personal opinion.
Forza Azzurri!!!
on the 16th November, 2013 at 2:04pm
Italy vs. Nigeria, Monday 18th, Fulham FC.

I'll be there will you.

Forza Azzurri sempre!
on the 16th November, 2013 at 1:42pm
I swear some people don't even watch the game and comment here. We played some of the best football we have played since Euro 2012 last night. Thiago Motta is a good alternative to De Rossi and overall, we pretty much dominated the 2nd half. The only poor part of our performance was defending set pieces and parts of the first half where Germany's 5 man midfield caught us out a little.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 12:44pm
Azzurri will be fine as long as it changes the full-backs with players who actually have brain, and not playing the disgraceful-number 10 wearing- Osvaldo.

Pepe & Rossi for the attacking line.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 12:41pm
I agree totally Susy, last night I felt frustrated watching an Italy side which lacked ideas. Motta, Montelivio and the entire back four were getting caught time and again. Germany were carving us up at will and sides like Spain and Brazil would destroy Italy if they do that at the WC. Most sides will expect us to bring the game to them in Brazil and if we don't, we'll pay a heavy price. Italy have a very good squad right now, but it's time Prandelli and Italy 'man-up'!
on the 16th November, 2013 at 12:22pm

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