Thursday April 10 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Ranocchia

Comic relief or deserving deputy? Jeremy Lim thinks Andrea Ranocchia can be more of the latter playing backup for Italy at the World Cup.

Italy is a country which has earned the reputation of perfecting the defensive art. In that regard, Andrea Ranocchia is often seen as the square peg in a round hole. But though the Inter man is Serie A’s resident figure of fun, his days with the Azzurri are by no means depleted fully.

Yes, those who compared the attacking-midfielder-turned-defender to Alessandro Nesta and Franco Baresi early on were hoodwinked. Deceived. But such expectations have often swamped promising futures. It would prove no different for Ranocchia, who faltered when plugged into the broken machine that was the Nerazzurri at a tender age.

The Assisi native was viewed once upon a time as the future of Inter’s rearguard. Injuries, a period of playing second fiddle to the side’s treble veterans and an endless turnover of Coaches soon curtailed a promising start at San Siro though.

Despite these early struggles, this season began with renewed promise as Inter fielded a three-man backline and climbed up Serie A. Thereafter the Milan outfit slipped back into the familiar territory of struggling to contain opponents, and Ranocchia appeared to lose his way yet again after crushing defeats inflicted by Roma and Napoli towards the end of 2013.

Still, the stop-start nature of the defender’s campaign did not deter Cesare Prandelli from deploying him in tests with Denmark and Nigeria. And after being benched and then reinstated by Walter Mazzarri when a purported winter transfer to Galatasaray fell through, Ranocchia is now re-emerged as a contender to travel with Italy to the World Cup, after some fine performances of late.

The turn of March is indeed providing glimpses of the stopper’s former self. While Inter’s rearguard has been watertight as a sieve recently, this time blame cannot be pinned on the much-maligned figure. The sense of anticipation and confidence which was his claim to fame starring for Bari in 2009 are becoming evident again as he defends with authority.

Few relish a physical battle as much as the 6’5 behemoth - Ranocchia is a dogged marker. His average of tackles, clearances and interceptions each match this term already surpass those of Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. Yet such an imposing frame inevitably leads to a sluggish recovery against speedier opponents, the reason why his brighter displays tend to coincide with the extra cover three at the back provides.

Prandelli’s preference for four defenders does not eliminate Ranocchia from contention, however. It will fall mainly on full-backs such as Mattia De Sciglio and Ignazio Abate to ensure their comrade is not left isolated and picked off by the opposition. Meanwhile, Italy’s set identity plus the constant outlet Andrea Pirlo provides in midfield promise to minimise the misplaced passes or hashed clearances Ranocchia has become associated with.

Burdened with responsibility by his club from a fledgling age, the resurgent Genoa youth has sufficiently come to grips with the task of playing at the top to deserve a crack in Italy’s provisional squad. On the cusp of his prime at 26, he could confirm to be an able deputy come the final showdown in Brazil.

Have your say...
bonucci is only gd when he has chiellini and barzagli to cover his mistakes, and ogbona is not even worthy of playing for juve and he is def not worthy of a WC call,so ranochia should go to the WC atleast he will be a stronger sub than ogbona,FORZA ITALIA!!
on the 11th April, 2014 at 9:00am
No Way ! The defence line is (central defenders only) the only that gives guarantees. Chiellini, Bonoccui and Barzagli are the only ones that should start. I saw a promising performance in Palletta at an international level and I hope he continues to perfom like that when called upon. But Ranocchia, NO ! Take Ogbonna if necessary as he can play as a fullback too.
on the 10th April, 2014 at 7:26pm
I suppose he could be one of these players who is dismal for his club but excellent for his national side so i would dismiss him completely, however he would be a 5th choice cb for Italy in a world cup side and I would question whether Italy need a 5th choice cb and wouldn't they want some one who can fill in a fullback position. To be honest if ogbonna had got more first team football or stayed at torino this wouldn't even be up for debate.
on the 10th April, 2014 at 4:49pm
on the 10th April, 2014 at 4:45pm
He promised a lot but the reality is he is a complete and utter liability. He is nowhere near international quality. I would take Baresi at his age now, over Ranocchia. I am surprised his name has even come up.
on the 10th April, 2014 at 2:37pm
Andrea Ranocchia was at one point better than Bonucci, these two were ment to be the next Nesta and Cannavaro combo but while Bonucci got better thanks to Conte and playing in a good team, Ranocchia seems to have stalled which is a real shame as he showed a lot of promise, lucky for him he is still young and can get better maybe away from Inter, but currently he doesn't deserve to go I hope for Italy sake though he does step up some time as Barzagli and Chiellini are getting into the 30's
on the 10th April, 2014 at 1:41pm
I am an Interista but I don't see the necessity for calling Ranocchia..He is a decent center back actually with good aerial ability and physical presence but his decision making is the worst in Inter defense, not to mention his lack of concentration and bad marking..I think the one who should be the back up center back for Juve trio is Paletta plus Criscito still can play as center back..
on the 10th April, 2014 at 1:17pm

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