Friday June 20 2014
Italy's Costa Rica chemistry was off

Cesare Prandelli changed some things against Costa Rica and stuck with others, but Susy Campanale says he got the worst of both worlds.

Good old second game syndrome. Any Italy fan will be able to tell you it’s right to get nervous after winning the opener in a major tournament. A strong start is rarely a good sign for the Nazionale. Having England fans cheering us on and Gary Lineker wearing an Azzurri jersey just added to the bad mojo. Will it be Euro 1996 with first round elimination, or like Germany 2006 when we had to beat the Czech Republic to go through?

Ultimately luck played only the tiniest part in the defeat to Costa Rica. Italy did not perform up to scratch and looked to be feeling the after-effects of that game in Manaus. All except for Thiago Motta, who apparently was born drained of all energy and is the world’s only Brazilian who suffers with the heat in Brazil.

I have often criticised the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder and this showing in Recife really did just convince me: I don’t get it with Thiago Motta. I don’t understand his appeal, why he keeps being picked and what on earth he is supposed to bring to the squad. He’s less creative than Marco Verratti, more predictable than Alberto Aquilani and can be outdone for pace by Cesare Prandelli. We really should just introduce Prandelli as the first player-manager in a World Cup rather than ever play Thiago Motta again. He’s petulant, slow, sluggish, can’t defend, certainly can’t create and had the nerve to say being accustomed to the heat was “the only difference” between Italy and Costa Rica.

Prandelli had an important choice to make in Recife. He could either shake things up and rely on fresh legs on top of clear minds to take the Costa Rica game with the respect it deserved or stick with the same overall side that beat England in an attempt to secure qualification early. He did a bit of both and got the worst of both worlds.

Thiago Motta was dreadful in place of Verratti, negating the quality of the dual playmaker system to make Italy predictable and staid. Matteo Darmian had done so well in Manaus that putting him on the left seemed a waste, especially when Ignazio Abate has still not learned how to put in a decent cross. The Milan man is very quick, but getting to the by-line and then looking confused isn’t terribly helpful. Giorgio Chiellini was perhaps exhausted from playing as a full-back against England, because that was a disastrous performance in the centre and he should’ve given away a penalty too.

With Andrea Barzagli carrying an injury and Chiellini visibly shattered, can there be any reason not to play Leonardo Bonucci? His absence continues to baffle me, especially when he’s capable of inspired long-range passes.

The fresh legs were supposed to revive the team, but Antonio Cassano, Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne were the worst of the lot. I was so looking forward to seeing what they could do in this World Cup, especially the Napoli starlet, but his trickery and skill are pointless if he’s permanently offside. I also get the feeling Cerci is still psychologically scarred from his penalty miss for Torino on that final day of the season, even though in the end Parma’s unbalanced books made it irrelevant for Europa League qualification.

Now Italy find themselves in that oh so familiar position of needing a result in the last game of the group. In this case, it’s a head-to-head with Uruguay after Luis Suarez had plenty of target practice against England to get his match fitness levels up. It will be played in Natal at 13.00 local time against a South American side.

It doesn’t bode well, but then that seems to be just how the Azzurri like it in a World Cup.

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Have your say...
@ dino Italy don't have CMs who can play possession football? What do you call De Rossi, Verratti and one of the greatest players of his generation pirlo? The level hysteria here is ridiculous. Can we all calm down?
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:54pm
I'm not a big fan of Juve's 3-5-2 but at the moment we've got nothing better.
Some squad selections for this WC were totally wrong.
The best Italian line-up possible could be
Chiellini Bonucci Barzagli
Giacherrini Pirlo Marchisio Verratti Maggio
Rossi Immobile
That type of squad would have provided better defensive security and organization as well as movement upfront with players attacking the space to find the ball distributed by our playmakers.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:28pm
If CP was so set on playing a 4 man backline then why did he select a squad where only one player can passably play left back? Also, why did he take Bonucci who has shown repeatedly that he can't play CB in a 4-man defense? Anyways, we need to switch to 3-5-2 (De Rossi as the the 3rd CB with Bonucci as injury cover)
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:13pm
1.How the hell was Cassano picked in this squad over Rossi. He has two speeds...stop and crawl.

2.If Chiellini is the best defender in Italy we have a serious problem. The guy is a lumbering ox, he is absolutely awful and overrated. Did we learn nothing from that crushing Spain final.

3. Italy's defence is now our main weakness we are not going to win the world cup and actually I think we have a good chance of loosing to Uruguay.

4. One word for that game...Appalling
on the 21st June, 2014 at 12:36pm
If the players were worried about the heat then it was stupid not to make more changes and bring in the more dynamic young players. You cannot have Pirlo, DDr and Motta in the same team then expect dynamism. Darmian should have been left on the right and perhaps tried Abate on the left. I do agree tho if you are gonna persist with Balo then its not as a lone striker as it does not suit him at all. If u r gonna use lone strikers then midfield needs to get into the box but only Marchisio does that
on the 21st June, 2014 at 11:50am
I have watched Motta many times for Barcelona, Inter, Atletico and PSG. Only seen him have 1 good game against Chelsea in Paris. I do not watch Serie A as I used to but I do not see the quality in Cerci, Candreva, Parolo or Aquilani. There was so much love 4 Candreva against England but I did not think he did that well. His crosses were poor bar 1 with his left foot. With that defence Italy need to be scared of Luis Suarez. I am not worried about Cavani as he has been very poor.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 11:41am
Susy summed it up pretty well. Costa Rica settled into a very disciplined defensive set-up from the time they scored and Italy's formation didn't enable them to get in behind their defence and create anything.
Basically, Prandelli was outsmarted, which can happen to any coach,however what concerns me is that we were assured by him just the other day that probably Italy's greatest weapon was it's ability to adapt and change to any one of three or four systems during matches.Must get it right now.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 11:30am
I wondered before the game should Buffon come back in.Has missed training due to injury and has had little game time recently.Sirgu did well against England.

From memory Buffon had a bad Confederations Cup and I fear he may turn into Casillias for the next game.
Against CR he didn't impress.

Prandelli wouldn't have the guts to drop his captain anyways and most other managers would be the same.

It feels like we've been knocked out but we have to be thankful we are still in it.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 11:08am
Just because we played well against England it didn't mean we would play well against CR.Just because we played poor against CR doesn't mean we will do against CR.

Against England we proved what we could do.We have Pirlo,Balotelli,Immobile,De Rossi,Chellini,Verratti.
If they do what they can do against Uruguay then we have a good chance.

Uruguay have Suarez whilst Canvani has forgotten how to score.
Had we beaten CR we would still have needed a draw against Uruguay.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 11:03am
So, now we have to move forward. Motta shouldn't touch the ball again, we agree on that, balo should be dropped, (forever in my opinion, but that's for another day) and we need de Sciglio back with Darmian and Candreva linking up again. Veratti in midfield, and now the bombshell - Sirigu in goal! Love Gigi to bits but didn't look 100%. We need positivity! Don't we always do this and if we're honest, did we expect anything different? Could be worse - Spain, England... Believe, believe, believe!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:39am
The match with UGY was always going to be one in which a result was needed. At least a draw etc. So, Prandelli - why the hell did you not rest 6 or 7 of the first team, and use the squad! Prandelli went on and on about the 'squad' being important. Look,it was simple. He should have played the 2nd team, the ones who need to 'prove' something and get Prandelli thinking! My god, it's the simplest of coaching ideas ever! if they won, then the 3rd game could have given him more chance 2 rest players.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:30am
It's shocking that people on here seem to be more tactically astute that CP. It was obvious that Costa Rica's weakness yesterday was their high back line, so, any quality through balls to the striker would have beaten them. The obvious tactical move should've been Verratti for Marchisio and Immobile for Balotelli. Simples. I'm worried because CP's subs didn't make sense tactically. Poor player performance or one bad game is easy to fix, but a clueless, panicked manager is not.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:15am
North Korea 1966.. Italy needed a draw and guess what happened?
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:12am
I must say it is good Italia lost to Costa Rica! Some lads needed that knock in the head to realize the real heat! If you ask me; Gli Azzurri has not impressed me so far, Azzurri was lucky to win England game! Balo or Super Mario!!! God forbids Italia exit from group stage it is purely Prandelli’s tactics fault.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:06am
For balotelli to be effect prandelli needs to treat him like every other player NOT like hes the lord jesus! We cannot base the whole team around him like we do! Its a simple as that! Look at Luxembourg game then look at the flumenese game. The diffrence is 4 goals more from italy, why? Bcz the team plays like a team.
Darmien bonucci palletta chiellini
Verratti pirlo
Cerci/candreva immobile insigne

I wouldnt let balotelli I the dressing room after his perfomances this season
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:04am
Wow I totally agree about Motta, most journalists and PSG fans love him but I just don't see what he does. He's essentially a (very) poor mans De Rossi so there's no need to play both unless it's in a 4-2-3-1, for god sake to play him or Pirlo in positions where they're meant to make runs forward.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 10:01am
Sadly, in the current team, Barzagli is the only real defender, and injuries are impairing his form more and more. Chiellini is useless in a 4 back system, not having enough tactical awareness and preferring to throw elbows and push opponents instead when tricked (easily). Darmian should be left on the right.
Also, I don't get the hate for Motta, who was certainly subpar but not the scapegoat everybody makes him out to be. The loss is mostly due to Prandelli's plan and wrong substitutions.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:52am
The problem is when balotelli is in this team prandelli loses all common sense! Look at a game without balotelli. The team has a better flow in attack bcoz the advance as a unit, when balotelli is there we dont advance at all, its hit and hope and I mean hope that balo actually moves for the ball, he doesnt need anyone with him, he needs to stay at home! As for the defence- its no surprise that we are poor, prandelli is useless! We concede as if its an objective to concede as much as possible.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:51am
Sadly this is the worst Italian squad I have seen in many a year. I hope we can do something tuesday but am not confident. We are not producing quality defenders. I fear we may be on the way home early again. Everyone seems to mention the heat. Well they knew all about that so its time to put up or shut up. As for the changes against Costa Rica- Motta is awful/ Insigne couldn't look across the line and I cannot believe Prandelli took Cassano above Rossi.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:42am
3-5-2 is actually the formation that best suits Italy's personnel.

With DDR in the libero role (no Bonucci please), you have more bodies in the back when not in possession. When in possession De Rossi can step out of the back three and move forward into the midfield area. So in theory it would grant Italy numerical superiority both in defensive and attacking phase. It worked so well in early phases of Euro 2012 but clueless Prandelli changed things and got drilled by Spain in the final
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:34am
Italy never fail to prove a self fulfilling prophecy. Their tone around the game was allwrong & their application even worse. Costa Rica are a decent side but we have a habit off over estimating the opponent. Yes I said it, we didn't under estimate them. Please don't confuse this for arrogance but really we should be confident to go all out & blast this team off the park from the get go & then shut up shop. Looked to me like we wanted to shut the shop up and nick a goal. It never works for us!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:28am
Italy played predictably bad yesterday. CP is too tactical for my liking. He should have give Balo more support in attack yesterday. Well, if italia fails to qualify it wont be a good thing as my coachless country, Nigeria, is on the verge of getting knocked out and i was hoping to get high on italia.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:27am
A shambolic performance by the Azzurri.. When Motta was named in the starting line-up I knew we'd lose.. He offers nothing, why did CP have to change the line-up from the England game. Things worked well with Verratti alongside Pirlo. Sirigu should have started... Buffon but why couldn't you go and gather that cross to Ruiz!! you only need to stand up straight ffs.. Now Italia MAN UP and beat URG.

Forza Azzurri. At least England are out happy days!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:07am
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:07am
Total nonsense that we thought we would just turn up and win.I accept perhaps there was a bit of that but after CR's win against Uruguay and taking into account their qualification record we would have sat up and taken notice.

Also because of the heat we would have taken notice.

As for the heat yes it did play a part and what we did in previous world cups in the heat is irrelevant.

Look how we struggled in the Confederations cup last year against Japan.Heat will be a factor in our next game.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:03am
Hi, my first text to a friend after 5 minutes was that Motta was slowing us down. My main gripe apart from Motta was the non-use of Immobile and the removal of all midfielders apart from our two old players Pirlo and de Rossi.To tackle the first one (excuse the pun), balo has had a poor season and has never convinced as a lone striker, he doesn't have the mobility to pull defenders and leave space. Why not try Immobile - Serie A top scorer anyone? Remember Scillaci??? We'll still win it! Faith!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:01am
Italy and England have something in common.Both teams full of players who play for top teams yet when they play for their countries they are average.

The only reason we do better is because we are fortunate to have had better players.In 2006 we were crammed full of world class players.

1998,2002,2010,and now perhaps 2014 all poor world cups even though we had/have enough quality to do well.

Our mentality is poor.

If only we could steal just 10% of the passion of the smaller countries.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:00am
With Uruguay we don't have to worry about small team syndrome but we do have a big worry about the heat.
Lets hope our history of doing it when it matters most gets us through.

Prandelli needs to get us through to minimum of the quarters and to play 3 very good games to prove he should be the italy manager.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:40am
I'm not gonna single out one or two players in particular to blame . The whole team was ultimately useless . And it's not the heat nor the fatigue nor the formation to blame . It is the players' psyche of superiority over a small nation like Costarica . It's the idea of 3 points in the bag , the kiss from the Queen and all that nonsense that is to blame . Unless Italy can abolish the superiority complex when facing minor teams ,upsets like these will still happen
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:39am
Seven draws in a row against some poor teams then a loss against CR.I didn't understand why Prandelli got a new contract before the world cup other than there maybe are no better alternatives.

Teams with a small population like CR play with a strong national pride which is partly why they can beat the teams like us who seem to play with no pride or effort.

As for why did we change the team that played England,it was obvious Paletta had to be dropped but as for Sirgu,Veratti,no reason to drop.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:33am

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