Friday April 11 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Cassano

Long considered the most naturally gifted Italian forward since Roberto Baggio, Mark Siglioccolo asks if Antonio Cassano can lead Italy at the World Cup.

Bari born Antonio Cassano has had one of the most nomadic and trouble hit careers of any player in recent memory. His temperament has seen him switch clubs far too frequently whilst clashing with almost every Coach he has played for. Fabio Capello twice attempted to tame the fiery front man, first at Roma and then Real Madrid, before Cassano played the petulant child card and moved to pastures new.

Now at Parma, and after countless second chances, the 31-year-old finally appears to be proving his doubters wrong. Whilst other forwards tend to be passed their best into their fourth decade, Fantantonio is now arguably in the form of his life.

The Gialloblu have been one of the success stories of the season in no small part thanks to the exploits of Cassano. This is the most prolific he has been in front of goal in five seasons and should Parma finish fifth and achieve Europa League qualification this term, Cassano's 11 League strikes and five assists thus far will have something to do with it. Let us not forget, he suffered a minor stroke just under three years ago.

Despite his obvious talent, failure to settle at one club for a considerable length of time has seriously stunted his international career. For a player of his quality, just 35 appearances since his debut 11 years ago is akin to buying a Ferrari and only opening up the garage once in a while to flaunt it to your friends. World Cup wining Coach Marcello Lippi was clearly not a fan, and having missed out on his chance of glory in 2006, it was current Parma boss Roberto Donadoni who brought Cassano back into the fold after two years in the Nazionale wilderness.

Cesare Prandelli brought him back following another two year exile to the highly successful Euro 2012 campaign, in which the forward scored on Italy's path to the final. With Andrea Pirlo's prowess so highly publicised, Prandelli needs a plan B to unlock their opponents defences, and Cassano may just be it.

There are parallels between the career paths of Cassano and Roberto Baggio. Talented, one-off and nomadic characters, often thought of for what could have been more than what was at club level. Yet Baggio had a shot at redemption on the biggest stage of them all, and took it. This is Cassano's chance, and the boy who never grew up finally appears to have reached an emotional maturity to be able to lead the line in Brazil.

With Giuseppe Rossi's fitness in doubt and Francesco Totti unlikely to be considered, Cassano's form should not be ignored. He may be in direct competition with Lorenzo Insigne, but experience should give Cassano an edge. It is time that the boy became a man.

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Have your say...
Whatever Prandelli decides will be the right decision. The guy since 2010 took a down italy and to them to the euro final, and finished in the confederations cup in 3rd. I think Prandelli is wayyyyy underrated if you ask me.
on the 9th May, 2014 at 3:52am
cassano,el shaarawy or insigne. one of them goes to WC. i dont sure about cassano bcoz the climate in brasil it is hot&he is 31 now.give opportunities to younger playrs they should survive in btazil
on the 21st April, 2014 at 6:37am
Your right. He is the best.
on the 18th April, 2014 at 7:52am
You forgot about the goal against Ireland and his first half performance against Croatia, not to mention the goals he scored in the qualifiers, I'm not saying that destro or immobile are no good they just not on balo's level, to say that balo is no good is ridiculous anybody who knows football can see he's are best striker and has genuine quality.
on the 17th April, 2014 at 6:18pm
Yes I did see euros and I saw nothing extraordinary. He had a good 10mins against germany and that was it, he vanished against spain and ran off in a strop after that game, He didnt do anything great in confeds. hes been the only striker wev had in 3 years (Gila and oswaldo in my eyes are not even footballers!). My point is had immobile and destro had the same time and effort put into them as balotelli has from everyone then wed have a much better situation now!
on the 17th April, 2014 at 3:58pm
Stop making excuses for balotelli! Milan are in bad shape but clubs like torino, sasuollo and verona are not exactly world class teams yet their strikers all seem to play well and no need to dig up stupid excuses for poor performances. The bottom line is he isnt living up to the hype.
on the 17th April, 2014 at 3:45pm
BALO is fundamental for the azzurri . He needs to control himself a little more but without balo at the mondial , no party !!
Immobile should go and osvaldo but we need experience as well as youth up front so i think destro should stay at home

on the 17th April, 2014 at 2:41pm
Waste another couple of years on him?? Have you forgot euro 2012? He had a good confed cup until he got injured, 12 goals in 29 caps not a bad record, half or those caps as a substitute breaking in to the side, he's a big game player and we'll need him in Brazil it's as simple as that.
on the 17th April, 2014 at 6:56am
immobile and destro have impressed me very much this year and both should be in contention for a place in the squad. But balotelli is different class and has been playing in a very poor milan team. He comes with a lot of baggage but is without doubt our best forward.
on the 16th April, 2014 at 8:47pm
Your rite. Lets waste another few years on him. Based on his chances to goal ratio for this season (which might I add is 1 of the worst in the league, hes had more game time than immob and destro, hes had over 180 chances and scored 13, based on others who have had 60 chances and scored more!) we are going to need to bring alot of creating players- wed need at least 50+ goal scoring chances in the hope of seeing 1. Iv seen him live- doesnt make me any more confident- hes a waste of man time
on the 16th April, 2014 at 3:18pm
@ mm
He's scored 13 league goals in a side that has been poor at best he has no talent around him at Milan besides monte, the azzurri have pirlo motta de Rossi Cassano if he's in the squad all with great vision and passing ability, perfect for balotelli's fantastic movement, I've seen him play live for the azzurri lots of times and has always been impressive, immobile and destro are very good but not on balo's level.
on the 16th April, 2014 at 2:49pm
FB40 On what grounds can you say balotelli is the best striker we have?? He was poor in champ. League for milan. Didnt exactly set the world on fire in confedirations cup, hes been pretty poor all season so please tell me how or why immobile and destro are not classed as the same or even better? They need less mothering, less maintenance so both are all round better players to have than balotelli. its time wasted on balo that has left us in dilemma for wc bcoz immob and destro wernt used earlier
on the 16th April, 2014 at 7:51am
Balotelli is simply the best striker Italy have by a country mile, always winning free kicks defences can't handle his physicality and he's got great skill, although we have some good strikers at the moment there is nobody on his level, he must go to Brazil and he will. FORZA ITALiA...
on the 15th April, 2014 at 3:53pm
I agree with mm and anonymous Balotelli is such a prima Donna and yes he is beyond overrated and over hyped, G.Rossi for me is the best striker Italy have. Viktor you are always making false statements and you sound really unknowledgeable.
on the 14th April, 2014 at 6:32pm
@tardelli 82
Your correct that at this stage, changing the whole team and expecting them to gel is ridiculous.

Prandelli is useless. He hasnt got a clue what hes doing. Why are we giving him contract extensions.. we need ancelotti on our bench not this sausage in a suit! Im sure he has a love affair with gila, balo and giaccarini, they do no wrong in his eyes- gila is a sack of potatoes, balo is an even bigger sack of potatoes and giaccarini is at sunderland! I mean wake up please!!!
on the 14th April, 2014 at 3:58pm
From first time I saw this 'phenomenon' play I have always said that he is a pile of pants! Week in week out I see him do nothing. Montolivo was apparently brought in to be the replacement for pirlo (which he is doing a rubbish job at) but he is a dead ball specialist so why on earth does balo take all free kicks? On what grounds should he first choice for everything? Its an absolute joke! Leave this waste of space at home and bring strikers that do what they are paid to do- score!
on the 14th April, 2014 at 3:52pm
Come on even you the man who sings the praises of balo week in and week out have to admit just how bad this is? I mean come on. People please. Someone say something bcoz this is beyond a joke. He took every single free kick last nite and all of them either sky high or into the wall. He stands over everything yet he has no rite to be put on this pedestal. Its ridiculous. Based on this season immobile, destro and many others are producing better performances than this pile of crap!
on the 14th April, 2014 at 3:45pm

He's the best striker italy got. Sorry but that's the bitter truth.
on the 14th April, 2014 at 12:48pm
What about Giaccherini? Why is everyone forgetting about him? He is a player of international standards and he can play many positions I think Prandelli should call him! he called him all the time even though he wasnt a starter for Juve so why not now when he's doing well with Sunderland?
on the 14th April, 2014 at 6:41am
Unfortunately, a team needs chemistry Pranders can't just chuck in whoever at this late stage and hope they will click. He is bringing players that he trusts and who got us through qualifying. It just happens that some of those players have never been good enough!
We are not quite at the stage of Lippi's 2010 selection, but we will all be shaking our heads with despair when we get Giacherini, Osvaldo , Aquilani and Monty starting against the English!
on the 14th April, 2014 at 6:39am
Another game.......another game without a Balotelli goal........

just not getting this poor obsession the Italy coach has with a striker who never scores.

please fellow bloggers dont come back to me saying he is good and plays well for Italy,,, as a man talked about more than a striker,,, soooo overated its now a joke!!! not even against Catania can he score. tired of this player in truth.
on the 14th April, 2014 at 6:12am
No doubt Italy will leave all their best strikers at home. Just think what Italy might have done over the years had they picked players such as Signori, Vialli, Marco Simone (I always wondered why there was never an outcry about leaving him at home), Roma's Montella and Delvecchio and Fabrizio Miccoli.
I'm wondering why Quagliarella is not even being given a mention. I think he's great.

This time round I don't think Italy have the rich talent pool to choose from. Insigne etc all over rated.
on the 13th April, 2014 at 11:39am
prandellis use of subs is horrid please do not let this man coach azzurri 40 man U8 fitness camp everyone gets a trophy
on the 13th April, 2014 at 3:06am
I think at least one of totti or cassano has to go. Some genius will be required in the biggest, tightest games and these two are the best bets to provide it. Even if fitness is an issue, 20 minutes here or 30 minutes there of totti or cassano could make a huge difference.
on the 12th April, 2014 at 8:25pm
Players have over 80 games a season to find form under normal circumstances... so I dont see how any manager can bring players based on name and hype who has been consistantly crap all season and expect them to suddenly live up to the hype in the world cup in a humid rainforest! We are going on like we dont have talent- I think we have a great group to choose from who all START for their club teams, so why are we picking players who cant evwn start for their club team!
on the 12th April, 2014 at 10:16am
I dont understand how any manager has difficulty picking a team from the current pool of players!I mean its simple- pick your team based of form- a goalie that saves the ball and leads a defence, a defence that works with a keeper and stops strikers, a midfield that creates, scores and defends and heres the good bit- strikers that score goals consistanly and work for the team not them selves- easy. This isnt fifa 14! This is real life. Bringing players in hope theyl discover form is ridiculous!
on the 12th April, 2014 at 10:08am
Said it all along that cp is all talk and no action. We lost the euros bcoz of his stupidness, brings 23 players to a tournament to use injured players in a final! whats the point in this training camp? He already knows who hes bringing. Destro wont be picked now for conduct so its the excuse he was looking for to bring gila! If he wants to be taken seriously he needs to make productive changes to this team- leave oswaldo, gila, balo. Bring immob, destro and insigne!
on the 12th April, 2014 at 10:01am
@Baggiot...totally agree...I can smell 2010 too. Italian mentality will never change. Prandelli will pick all his no-hoper mates Gila, Monty, Osvaldo, Aquilani, Motta and Giaccherini...then he'll look bemused as to why we are losing games. I hope that he proves me wrong, I really do. I mean Gila, Aquilani and Osvaldo should just NOT go DEFINITELY NOT. They are consistently poor.
on the 12th April, 2014 at 7:51am
He's in love with Gilardino, and we all know the other garbage he's in love with too, he picks favorites, not the best talent.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 11:28pm
@baggio class I agree with you. I've had enough of Prandelli, really I can't believe it, this guy is f'n pathetic. He and all these non Italians is what's gonna and already has drivin fans to lose interest in the national side and it's kinda sad. This is not an easy group a lot harder than 2010, and the choices he has made and will probably make again will cost us big time but you know what whatever I don't want him another 2yrs anyway. I am so angry right now it's bothering me a lot.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 11:18pm

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