Wednesday April 30 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Candreva

Antonio Candreva has hit form and offers Cesare Prandelli a cool head in Brazil, argues Alasdair Mackenzie.

The blue side of Rome has not been a cheerful place this season. Protests against Lazio owner Claudio Lotito have dominated the headlines after the relentless struggle between the President and Ultras was intensified by the departure of the talismanic Hernanes in January. Fans were enraged by the departure of a leader, a goalscorer, a set piece expert and an iconic part of the club’s recent history. Yet one man was up to the task of filling the void the Brazilian left behind him - Antonio Candreva.

Candreva’s late-season form has been so impressive that the toxic atmosphere surrounding the club has faded somewhat, as the winger has led his team from the risk of mid-table obscurity back into European contention.

Sweeping home the penalty that sealed a vital 2-0 win over Livorno on Sunday, Candreva hit a historic landmark by becoming the club’s most prolific midfielder in a single season. His 12th goal of the campaign took him beyond the previous record shared by Pavel Nedved, the shaggy-haired icon of a bygone Scudetto-winning era, and a certain Brazilian known as ‘il Profeta’.

Importantly, six of Candreva’s goals have been penalties. Whilst some may argue this weakens the overall significance of his tally, it could instead be another contributing factor for Cesare Prandelli selecting him. The beautiful Penanka-inspired chip penalty he scored to open the shoot-out against Spain in the Confederations Cup semi-final last year is a case in point of when a calm and clinical set-piece taker is needed in big international competitions.

Candreva has played for every level of the Azzurri set-up from the Under-18s upwards. He is no stranger to donning the famous blue shirt, yet it was only last year that the midfielder truly embedded himself in Prandelli’s plans, winning 13 of his 19 caps in the calendar year of 2013. This was largely due to his versatility as a midfield player, as under Prandelli the 27-year-old has impressed in a more central role as well as in his natural position on the wing.

It is this experience and versatility that may give him the advantage over players such as Alessio Cerci and Alessandro Florenzi. Despite their undoubted talents, neither of those stars has played as regularly for the national side nor has the ability to play as effectively in a more withdrawn role. Candreva is excellent technically and has a devastating right foot that has helped him clock up 10 assists this season alongside his 12 goals.

He comfortably leads Lazio’s scoring charts and has found top form at the opportune moment, with that penalty against Livorno marking the winger’s fifth goal in his last five games. Candreva is a player Prandelli cannot afford to ignore - a precocious talent with the ability to score, create and perform a variety of roles across the midfield. With his confidence sky-high following the turnaround in Lazio’s fortunes, he would certainly enjoy the chance to leave a few more goalkeepers red-faced on the world stage.

Have your say...
Candreva is a definite in my squad, technically gifted, hard working he was one of Italy's best players in the confederation cup, looked the best midfielder against Spain. Late bloomer but reminds me a little of fiore at euro 2000. Italy's strength is their midfield expect lots of rotation and changes in formation will mean Candreva will be essential for his tactical nouse and versality, in addition means Prandelli will take 9 midfield players and only 4 strikers and 7 defenders.
on the 3rd May, 2014 at 9:00am
C.Santarossa to much Grappa!! Giovinco hahaha
on the 1st May, 2014 at 2:28pm
at the expense of verratti or insigne which just should not happen
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:25pm
Deserves to be in the squad, but i wouldnt have him in starting line up. He's hard working and athletic but lacks any real cutting edge at international level. I would take 6 forwards, Balotelli, rossi, immobile, cassano, cerci and insigne. But i really hope prandelli does not take giaccherini and parolo. Giaccherini struggles to play for sundeland, parolo has had a good season, but he's just a squad player and we have players who are far more technically gifted. if he did go it would be .....
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:23pm
I think he will go, though personally in my opinion I think a lot of you are going to find he will contribute very little to the Azzurri at the WC. That's just my opinion though because I think he is overrated one of Prandelli over hyped talents.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 1:01pm
on the 1st May, 2014 at 12:17pm
He's played really well for Italy over the last year or so and he's very versatile. He should be in the squad. A very pacey athelete who has quality, workrate and has an eye for goal.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 12:10pm
Candreva is a good player but a "precocious talent"? No. Always looked provincial at National level. I guess we need some hardworking-versatile players but don't expect this guy to deliver anything special in Brasil.
on the 1st May, 2014 at 5:42am
Even though Giovinco doesnt get much playing time he is still the better choice. He's a lot better than Candreva. Cassano, Balotelli, Rossi (hopefully)l, Cerci, Insigne, Gio and Immobile are all better and deserve to be at the world cup over Candreva
on the 1st May, 2014 at 4:29am
sirigu - perin
abate - bonucci - ogbonna
candreva - montolivo - motta - florenzi
destro - immobile - insigne

back up - marchetti, astori, paletta, balzaretti (if fit) marchisio, cassano.
on the 30th April, 2014 at 11:50pm
100% candreva goes!! Versatile player who never gives in! I fear he will rejoin Juventus this summer which will be a shame for us!
on the 30th April, 2014 at 10:31pm
I like him he's a no nonsense type of player who always works hard.......reminds me of Graziani for those of you who can remember. Book he's ticket Cesare!
on the 30th April, 2014 at 8:53pm
Why on earth does Juve have Isla when they can buy Candreva?
on the 30th April, 2014 at 7:25pm
One of the most under-rated players around in my opinion

Not only does he have to go he has to start too, or at least play a big part for the Azzurri

Has a great engine which will be needed in Brazil
on the 30th April, 2014 at 6:27pm
No doubt about this oneā€¦he's going.
on the 30th April, 2014 at 5:42pm
sorry no
on the 30th April, 2014 at 5:38pm
He is a solid player for la nazionale and should definitely be on the plane for Brazil. FORZA ITALIA!
on the 30th April, 2014 at 5:33pm
He was a revelation under Petkovic, & impressed for Italy at the CF Cup. He can frustrate at times, taking too many long shots, but then his assists count is very impressive. Like Florenzi, he is pacey & versatile. He'd get in my 23!
on the 30th April, 2014 at 5:28pm
Great player will be a great asset to the azzurri, fast and a good engine good work rate and an eye for goal, sure to be on the plane to Brazil.
on the 30th April, 2014 at 5:19pm

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