Monday May 5 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Abate

Could fitness be Ignazio Abate’s weakness or strength heading out to Brazil? Luca Persico considers the Milan full-back’s World Cup hopes.

For a player who was selected for both Euro 2012 and last summer’s Confederations Cup, Ignazio Abate’s place at the World Cup remains uncertain.

The adventurous full-back has had a tough campaign at Milan, with injuries limiting him to just 16 starts in Serie A. A continued series of niggles has prevented Abate from building up any consistency, while Milan Coach Clarence Seedorf currently prefers the more secure Daniele Bonera at right full-back.

It is a situation that will concern Abate, but the Campania native is still very much in contention for a place in Brazil. For a start, one of his direct opponents for a squad berth is Christian Maggio. The Napoli full-back has been out of action since March, after requiring emergency surgery on a collapsed lung.

Mattia De Sciglio, Abate’s Rossoneri teammate, has also endured a frustrating season. He’s featured just 13 times in Serie A and last started in the 1-1 draw against Lazio in March.

The other right-sided full-backs who are seemingly in with a chance of being selected are Sampdoria’s Lorenzo De Silvestri and Torino’s Mattia Darmian. Both were chosen for physical testing and have had strong seasons, but Abate would expect to have the edge over both in the final reckoning.

For Euro 2012, Prandelli picked both Abate and Maggio and did likewise for the Confederations Cup, with the versatile De Sciglio also included. If the tactician is to maintain his desire to select both a specialist right wing-back and right full-back, then Abate can be confident.

At the Euros, both he and Maggio played in three matches each, as Italy progressed to the final. Amongst his appearances at the tournament was an outstanding showing against England, who Italy will face this summer. Abate was also chosen for the crucial group stage victory over Republic of Ireland and the final defeat to Spain. At the Confederations Cup, it was a similar scenario, with Abate and Maggio again having three matches each.

Abate may not be as versatile as Cesare Prandelli would prefer, but he is unquestionably Italy’s best right full-back when on form. The experience he has gained with the Azzurri across the last two summers has been beneficial and his performances at both tournaments showcased his undoubted talent.

If he stays fit, Abate will surely be selected, but it is his physical condition that will have Prandelli wary. The tactician has been insistent that fitness will be absolutely key at the World Cup. His physical testing and training sessions have been designed to garner who is in the best possible shape.

Coming into the tournament on the back of a season where he has shown himself vulnerable to injury does not help Abate’s cause, while he has yet to manage 30 appearances in a Serie A campaign. It could be argued, however, that his infrequent playing time has left the 27-year-old fresh for the summer.

Either way, Prandelli wants his best players with him in Brazil and while the Coach will stay loyal to his instincts, Abate is surely amongst his preferred options.

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Have your say...
Once again I come back and you´re all fighting, mustafa, Viktor, I see your posts alot, would be nice if they were more about football. Mustafa good point about Zambro and Grosso, though I seem to remember a fair amount of skepticism about his inclusion prior to 2006(unproven internationally etc) Having actually spent time in Brazil in June, I know we´re going to need players who can hack it physically, Abate for me doesn´t have enough match fitness. This WC is going to be about lungs and legs.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:52pm
@Rayita, Di Sciglio does have a decent cross on him. He just hasn't had a stable season with all his niggling injuries. In Cassani, Santon, Regini, Antei, Pasqual,Antonelli, Darmian, De Silvestre, etc We certainly have options, whether they are good enough or experienced enough though, that's is up for debate.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:19pm
based on form Maggio, Pasqual and darmian have been the most consistent this season. Abate and De Sciglio's form has probably suffered due to Milan's poor form. There's no doubt its a problem position for us. However, De Sciglio has looked very good at international level and he can play on both flanks, so he's a certainty! I would probably go with maggio and either abate or Darmian. Criscito looked awfull in the spain friendly in march so i hope he is not selected.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 7:22pm
@Maldini's Heir, you're right, I was a bit harsh. Tbh, like Mustafa said, there are very few great full-backs in the game these days; ones that can actually defend. Most of them have holes in their game. Lahm & Alves are regarded as some of the best, yet IMO, they cannot defend! Abate, like most FB's these days, are really wing backs. Going back to Abate, injuries & the continued speculation over his future obviously hasn't done him any favours.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 2:15pm
Descglio zero offensive skills, abate fitness issues, maggio fitness issues, criscito who????, right now italy is vulnerable at the position playing in a 4 back system( we are missing balzaretti) there best option is to go with the 3-5-2.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 1:56pm
@ Daniel Giambrone I know you're not his biggest fan (and I've admitted before that I have concerns about Abate) but I think that's a little harsh. His crossing is excellent and he has had assists over the years. He can beat a man and he's got pace to make up for his lack of defensive capabilities. He's definitely got some serious downsides especially defensively but I am not sure Italy have many good defenders in that position. As WB in a 3-5-2 he could be as good an option as any.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 9:04am
Cassani deserves it more
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:33am
on the 6th May, 2014 at 8:57pm

I'm curios about a this tho. You tent to change peoples name to a females. Is this something you do where you're from in order to make the other person embarrassed or something.It doesn't make ANY sense lol.

I grew playing for same team as Zlatan in malmo (Malmo ff and IFK Malmo) and got my scholarship playing football over here, I know a little about football yeah. What about you share your expertise. Have you played anything except for five a side?? Thought so, now be quite
on the 6th May, 2014 at 7:51pm

The important thing is the content and the value of the statement/post. I tent to write/reply to a little about everything while you on the other side keep maintaining your obvious pattern of constantly criticizing Milan and their players. So again, what do you gain of always having something bad to say about Milan? I feel certain way for teams I dislike and I share those thoughts every now and then, but nowhere near your consistency. That being said, there has to be reason. Do tell!
on the 6th May, 2014 at 7:45pm

It's pretty easy to monitor your posts as they all relate to something about Milan and their players. I speak Swedish, English, Spanish, German and a little French. That's pretty solid, so please drop your pathetic attempt to criticize my language skills. Funny, most people seem to concur with my points about you and your criticism towards Milan. Maybe it's you who need a English tutor? I'm on my 9th year in NY, at a American firm. Misspellings and gamma happens when you write fast
on the 6th May, 2014 at 7:42pm
You know, even a beginner in football world knows fully well that fullbacks defend before they attack. If a fullback doesn't know hot to defend, then he's useless. That's an analogy that Vikie, and others don't understand. She knows few players with great attacking/defending attributes, I say you do know nothing.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 6:09pm
@ Vikie

Please learn to construct simple and understandable senteces. Are you the Network Administrator for this site or something? Or you're just so obbsessed with me so that you monitor every post I write? If so, that's fine because I have no problem making you the joke of the week every week honey.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 6:02pm
For the biggest two clowns here, bark all you want. I speak true. Contradict my points if you know anything about football.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 5:50pm
Can't we just clone De Sciglio and use him on both flanks?? He's top notch. Not sure about Abate anymore.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 5:12pm
Average at defending, average technique, below-average final ball, & he doesn't look up enough. He has pace, but that is about it. The full back positions are my greatest worry: not only do we not have that many that can defend, CP's system's tends to be narrow & leaves these players exposed. Out of all our full backs this season, Darmian has impressed me the most.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 5:05pm
Not much playing time this season could be a problem, good engine and bags of pace, don't think we have anyone better at right back, will probably be on the plane.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 4:50pm
@ viktor His lack of game time is my issue and I'd say its a big problem for Prandelli. I can understand if Prandelli picks players regardless of what's going on at their clubs. I can see certain benefits to bringing e.g. Torino and Parma players who are flying high with confidence. But what happens next season if these players dip in form/confidence? Does the national squad continually change because e.g. Milan decide to hire an inexperienced coach or Juve decide to offload Giaccherini?
on the 6th May, 2014 at 3:24pm

A terrible football player might be over the top don't you think? I agree he's crosses are poor, but I know very few players in that position that has both great offensive/defensive attributes and great cross, dribbling, etc. What you have to highlight is he's pace and stamina. It's about what they contribute to each others.
My concern is he hasn't played enough at the moment.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 2:34pm
A must choice for me in the squad and starting ahead of Maggio without a doubt (who I think has had his day).
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:09am
I agree with Mustaafaaa - Abate's passing is terrible, as is his positioning and he never gets his cross in. He never beats the first man. Yes he is fast and athletic etc, but he is a terrible footballer. Not worth taking, at all.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 9:28am
While this blog is not about Milan per se and I'm sure the weekly round up will deal with the derby, just to clarify my last comment, great win for Milan on Sunday and Seedorf did very well and Constant showed glimpses of last season's form. The point I'm making here is about Abate.

@ Viktor I have criticised De Jong in the past but I have no problem saying he was absolutely immense on Sunday. Easily Man of the Match. If he plays like that every week Milan don't need another midfielder....
on the 6th May, 2014 at 9:02am
The question for Prandelli is whether he pays any attention to form. On the basis of form Abate is not starting for Milan. Bonera is. So does he bring Bonera or does he just ignore all Milan players? Clearly Abate is a better player and so far a regular for Italy. The fact that Seedorf cannot accommodate Italy's first choice full back in his starting line up says more about Seedorf's managerial failings than the player's ability (yes this is written after the derby win).
on the 6th May, 2014 at 8:59am

Have you realized it gone so far that you don't even make sense any longer. Not that you really ever had but now you reply to blogs mmediately once a milan players has been brought up. That's beyond sad. Yes I accuse you for being a hateful person against Milan players, I think we all do? Abate is beloved by many.. That's just the truth. Like or or not. Im guessing not .
on the 5th May, 2014 at 9:28pm
Mustaaaaaaafffffaaaaaaaaaa LOL,LOL,LOL,LOL,LOL,LOL,LOL,LOL. I can do it all day LOL!
on the 5th May, 2014 at 8:56pm
@ MFF Lol all you want you clueless narrow minded clown. I speak true. Contradict my point and then come lol at my face. @ Vikie And the same goes for you, the biggest clown of them all who always accuses people of hate and personal things. I bet you a dinner if you even read my post. I wonder when guys like you are going to die out. "Abate beloved by many", that's the quote of the week and something to lol about.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 8:39pm

Yes mate, he's useless. He's beloved by many and you clearly milan hater a soon as a milan player gets mentioned you start trash talking. It's almost as its something personal. Did you get dumped and replaced by a fellow rossoneri? Could that be it? Must be something, please share spite against milan because im curious.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 6:51pm
lol is that Mustaafaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa talking trash about a Milanista? Noooooooo can't be. Dude, you're so predictable it's not even funny anymore, but I still manage a good laugh..
on the 5th May, 2014 at 6:43pm
I'm reluctant not to take both as on the day they have been great for Italy, but with no viable alternates seems likely both will be taken. My choice would be not to take Maggio and take another left back instead - in Manuel Pasquale. You can't take players who are not playing at the end of the season, Abate needs to make right back at mila his from now until the end of the season.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 6:04pm
In the past, full back was always a position where I felt we were as strong as anyone. Maldini, Benarrivo, Zambrotta, Grosso have been world class at world cups. This time round feels like a weak spot for us. De Sciglio and Abate have rarely played together for Mila put could be our first choice. Maggio is suspect in a back four, if we go to a back five only Giaccherini would appear comfortable at left wing back. Prandelli likes to his players to be tactically flexible which Abate/Maggio r not
on the 5th May, 2014 at 5:57pm

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