Tuesday May 6 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Parolo

Parma midfielder Marco Parolo has been in top form this season and Dave Taylor believes his versatility could be perfect for Cesar Prandelli.

Neither artist nor artisan but as a brave blend of both, Parma’s Marco Parolo is certainly no one-dimensional player. Although perhaps not everyone’s first choice, his goals and readiness to do the more prosaic surely justifies a place in Cesare Prandelli’s squad.

As a midfield powerhouse, blessed with pace, aggression and tactical awareness, this ability to help the more creative players do their job could be very useful in Brazil. Overall he has been a microcosm of Parma’s positive approach this season and has consistently been man of the match, whether Coach Roberto Donadoni employs a 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3. “Our strength is the mentality of a group that unitedly follows the ideas of their Coach,” he explained recently.

One possible advantage of this unity and versatility is if Prandelli uses his recently mentioned Plan B, speculated to involve Antonio Cassano as a false nine. If so, then Cassano’s Crociati colleagues in World Cup contention - Parolo, goalkeeper Antonio Mirante and central defender Gabriel Paletta - offer La Nazionale Coach a secondary, secure ready-made spine.

Although not exactly a regular, Marco is no stranger to the Azzurri shirt after winning his first cap against Ukraine in March 2011, just nine months after leading Cesena into Serie A after two successive promotions. Over the summer of 2012 he was loaned to Parma and after one season earned himself a four-year contract, a second cap in the 2-2 draw with Nigeria last November and call-ups against Germany and Spain.

The steely 29-year-old who can play both deep and further forward and has shown an ability to be in the right place at the right time - he could be Prandelli’s ideal substitute. Nowhere was this class better seen than in his strike against Napoli in Week 32. Running from deep on to a sublime pass from Mattia Cassani, without a moment’s thought, he screamed the ball home from the edge of the box.

It is this highly desirable versatility of being able to score, defend and play in different systems that could give him an edge against his immediate competition - Milan’s Andrea Poli and Riccardo Montolivo, Lazio’s Antonio Candreva and Fiorentina’s Alberto Aquilani. He is also the highest scoring Italian midfielder in Serie A, not including penalties, with eight goals and seven assists in 34 games. Plus he has the highest average of tackles with four per game and most shots, 2.2, with only Candreva on more, with 3.2. 

Parolo admires England’s Steven Gerrard and like the all-combative Liverpool midfield anchor he is always aware of his role, uses both feet and spreads the play well. “He always knows where to place a ball for the maximum return and his enthusiasm inspires everyone on the pitch and around the club,” maintained Donadoni.

This enthusiasm spilt over into a public statement recently. “I would go to Brazil even as the eighth midfielder or third choice goalkeeper,” he emphasised. “It would be a dream come true.” If he does go perhaps he can just give the Azzurri another dimension and help make their dreams come true as well.

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Have your say...
Got to take the following:

De Rossi

Plus Prandelli will take Montolivo.

It's gonna be tough for anyone to break in. I think he may leave Verratti out, which would be a massive shame.
on the 8th May, 2014 at 12:32pm
@ Sam De Martino ah Darmian another former Milan youth who didn't "make it". We sold him I think in 2010 the year we signed...wait for it...Oguchi Onyewu! Boom. What a signing Galliani. Slap yourself on the back there.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 12:49pm
I think Prandelli s squad will be:

Buffon, Sirigu, Perin

Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli, Paletta, De Sciglio, Maggio, Criscito.

Pirlo, Marchisio, Motta, De Rossi, Candreva, Florenzi, Cerci, Montolivo

Balo, Rossi, Cassano, Insigne, Immobile.

I would take Darmian ahead of Criscito. Verratti would go for me but don't know whos place he would take. Destro is great but if Cesare takes 5 strikers he wont go. Just pray he doesn't take Gilardino.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:22am
I like him and he has had a great season. I am noty sure he is international quality although having said that hew is better than some of the dead wood prandelli continues to pick. Well done Rossi he was great last night when he came on. In 5 weeks hopefully he will be ready to smash England. Whether Cesare picks him remains to be seen considering the climate in Brazil. If Cesare takes 5 strikers he msut take if fit Balo, Cassano, Rossi, Insigne, Immobile. Cerci would be the extra midfielder.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:15am
@ Anonymous, I don't think you would know a good player if he came and slapped you in the face! You can't deny that he's had a very good season. He scores goals and he's fast and athletic. I was at the Nigeria game and his energy and box to box style impressed me, considering the climate in Brazil he's worth considering. He wouldn't make my 23 but it's a shame we're restricted to that number.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 5:29pm
@ maldinini's heir, Monty averages 58.3 passes per match at a completion rate of 84.9%. 
on the 6th May, 2014 at 4:46pm
@ Lucio Is Monty over 80% this season? De Jong for all my recent criticism seems to be over 90%. So how are Milan only averaging 40 something%??? My maths fails me.....
on the 6th May, 2014 at 3:03pm
Onofrio Sanfilippo talks rubbish - not good enough!
on the 6th May, 2014 at 12:21pm
Has had a good season, he does score often and make lots of tackles and is an all action midfielder but in the heat in brazil keeping hold of the ball is more important. He makes an average of 36 passes per match and his pass completion rate is only 80%, montolivo,verratti,pirlo, de rossi and motta all make twice as many passes and there completion rate are all above 85%, all these 5 should be on the plane first,Perhaps take him instead of marchisio or giaccherini, they have had average seasons.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:40am
Wouldn't mind seeing his inclusion but there's only 23 places! De Rossi, Pirlo, Thiago Motta and Verratti for me are a must and then Monty and Marchisio probably both deserve a place given what they've done in previous tournaments and given that their current slips in form are probably not entirely down to them: Monty has suffered from the general chaos around Milan and Marchisio has suffered due to the form of Vidal and Pogba. Parolo is probably the 7th choice out of 6 potential choices.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:38am
Really like Parolo, he offers something different to the rest of our midfield. Watched him against Nigeria at CC and he was excellent when he came on, committed and pushed Italy forward. His eye for goals and drive forward remind me of Antonio Conte. I would definitely take him and expect Prandelli to take him as he gives us another way to set up tactically - although would mean only 4 forwards for me if does.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:36am
I would not be dissapointed with his selection, a very good player and athelete.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:07am

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