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...
Agreed with you suzy.. especially about motta. He should never ever play for italy again. He did not run as much as marchisio, did not do as much as pirlo, he even did not play as much as the other players against england.. yet he dared to blame heat for his laziness??
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:30am
.....We needed a draw to be sure even if we had won so changes little. Just a poor way to go into the last game. Ring the changes! Play 3 at the back, even if De Sciglio is fit, drop Buffon, Motta and Balo and give fresher legs a run.
De Sciglio
De Rossi
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:11am
CP needed to make changes for the game against CR. 5 CM's and a lone striker? He just made bad ones in my and many peoples opinion. Should have been much more attacking and taken the game early if possible, then control in the heat. There was no need for Buffon, Motta and switching Darmian for Abate. He now needs to be brave and switch from his preferred 4 at the back. Most of our defenders play in a 3 and we have mediocre or inexperienced FB's. Should work well against Uraguy........
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:57am
Prandelli has always played this passing out wide to no effect style. I like the Italian description that tranlsates as 'superficial'. We have trouble scoring need a difference down the middle - who wasn't wishing Rossi could've come on yesterday? Cerci is only for late on when we want to break, Cassano looks knackered and we're not on holiday, Cesare.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:57am
It was the heat? Really? Is that much hotter than Mexico 70? USA 94? Spain 82? Where we got to the finals in each of these venues, the truth is some of the players Prandelli took to Brazil are a bunch of donkeys, Motta, Aquilani, Cassano, Abate, and although Buffon has been a great servant, he has gone past his sell by date. It always worries me when a coach is crouched down looking pensive, It's as if he's wetting himself! If the leader is nervous, surely the players will pick up on this?!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:19am
Susy sounds mad! Thiago Motta is dreadful, end of story. I was surprised at Cassano, Insigne, and Cerci all playing so poor. About died with all the offside calls. But hey, we still have a game to go so chin up! CR played a solid game and that's all there is to it.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 5:13am
Chiellini is a disgrace. That is two games in which he has let in a goal from poor defending. Who the hell is this guy & why did he get picked??? Very frustrating and depressing for Italy fans. I'm pleased that the coach is using a more attacking style of play but seriously Chiellini, Barzagli & Abate are a joke.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 4:59am
Who came up with this stupid description of Italian fooball? The azzurri style of play does not resemble Spanish TikiTaka,its not even close. Is it because Italy completed a bunch of useless passes against England? (mostly the defence and the midfielders passing to each other).Italy do not have midfielders that can play a possession game. Its basically route 1 football--Pirlo with a long ball to Balotelli and hope for the best. Italian futboll has been dying a slow death since 2006
on the 21st June, 2014 at 4:31am
Chiellini has been the worst over the two games. He has to sit. Balotelli needs to come off and let the Torino duo go to work. Motta should never play again. And please don't bring on Aquilani... he has no business even being in Brazil. Abate comes off too. Gli Azzurri have a huge job ahead of them containing Suarez and Cavani. Get it right!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 3:23am
This article is spot on. Everything in it.

I was surprised when Motta was announced on this team.

I feel Candreva will be better next match.

I thought Cerci was poor and I feel he lacks quality for this level. I thought De Rossi was really poor.

Abate can not deliver a ball consistently, not because he does not have the skill but because he does not look often enough for the cross.

Candreva-Marchisio-De Rossi-Pirlo-Verratti
on the 21st June, 2014 at 3:00am
Is anyone honestly surprised that we lost our 2nd game to a good team the world expected us to dominate? Obviously you haven't watched much if Italy over the years if you were. He coach made some mistakes. You don't change 4 positions from your back five. Barzagli was the only player to keep his place from game one. Silly error Mr. You also don't ask Cassano to change such a game with Immobile lying dormant at HT. 352 please Cesare, time to allow Juve to win you the tournament.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:22am
Main thing is Italy are not producing world class players anymore.

At the age are supposed young players are guys like Baggio, Cannavaro, Maldini, Totti, Del Piero, Nesta, etc were already world class.

Where is the creative number 10?
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:09am
Oh man, I share all of your frustrations! What a poor showing. You all have had some great ideas for lineups, none of which looked anything like what was fielded today. I don't know what Prandelli was thinking. I had a sleepless night last night worrying about the speedy costa rica and obviosly for good reason.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:07am
And one more thing... Balo does not like to run as De Rossi go's on to mention in an interview, Cassano had the ball breaking towards the box today, all the while with nobody (balo) breaking to get into the open for a pass, Balotelli is a player with talent, but if he doesn't run he'll never be great, great players RUN when they need to get into a pass situation or break past defenders Robben RUNS Ronaldo RUNS Messi RUNS Balo walks!! A lazy lone Striker not good for Italy
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:51am
And one more thing... Balo does not like to run as De Rossi go's on to mention in an interview, Cassano had the ball breaking towards the box today, all the while with nobody (balo) breaking to get into the open for a pass, Balotelli is a player with talent, but if he doesn't run he'll never be great, great players RUN when they need to get into a pass situation or break past defenders Robben RUNS Ronaldo RUNS Messi RUNS Balo walks!! A lazy lone Striker not good for Italy
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:51am
PLEASE can someone get this msg to prandelli that u r a idiot and while ur at bitch slap him before its to late Ci cant l live in australia
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:40am
Yes Prandelli has spent years tinkering with a line up and still seems baffled as to who to start, and what formation works best, why Bonucci is not good enough to play all of a sudden is baffling too, I thought we would see the last of Motta when he went off during the Euro final but Prandelli gets stuck on players, And I'm tired of watching italy play with a lone striker, then the blame is all his when we don't score!
3-5-2 enough tinkering, no more Cowards!!!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:37am
It was like looking at a typical Italian performance in a friendly.

No urgency whatsoever. If they are this slow against the feisty Uruguay, they'll be on their way out.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:08am
While the defense could be improved, the problem was the offense. Did they have a chance in the 2nd half? With an attacking line-up they couldn't breakdown the mighty Costa Rica defense. They looked lost going forward. Worst Italy performance I've ever seen. I think they left their match winner at home. Prandelli should have learned from Uruguay who took their match winner and he delivered.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 12:40am
I was never high on Motta to begin with. He's from Brazil yet never was called up for them. Guys like Rossi and Perotta played for Italy over their birth countries who would have begged to have them (We all remember this true with Rossi). If Motta couldn't crack a Brazil squad who never have the midfield talent pool we have then why was he on Italy in the first place?
on the 21st June, 2014 at 12:22am
Prandelli tinkers way to much and over analyzes things. Does Italy have an established starting 11? It changes every game. Hate to say it but Balotelli should be on the bench next game or have a very short leash. How come fitness is such an important issue for this team yet based on todays performance they looked very unfit. He's had months to work on this.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 12:22am
Agree with Suzy somewhat but Motta was not the man against a fast young team. I think Bonucci is being punished for a penalty kick miss versus Spain. Has Chiellini ever played well in a tournament? Cassano looked disinterested maybe for not starting. What has Insigne proven on the Napoli bench? Anyways Italy is in trouble, Maybe Cerci and Immobile next game with Verratti and Bonucci
on the 21st June, 2014 at 12:09am
Sometimes it is important to return to the Italian roots even if it means winning ugly. After all winning is all that matters.

I am in for a five-man defense against Uruguay. More assurance at back especially when you have King Suarez facing you in a nerve-wracking decider game.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 12:02am
You're right about Thiago Motta but the funny thing is that no one is talking about Prandelli's worst favorite starter: Mr Candreva! I guess it's because he is so out of the game, that we don't even remember he is on the pitch. Last game against England he started bad then he improved at the end but in this game, he only touched the ball once, I think. I had to ask myself if he was really there. Balotelli played very bad too but at least he was trying... The Coach made huge mistakes, Cassano=0
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:59pm
Oh yeah, blame Chiellini and Barzagli for Stooges like a horrible-footballer, that's Abate, and no-defending Darmian.

Play Chiellini at the left, or SHIFT TO 3-5-2
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:50pm
Prandelli should have been sacked after Euro 2012. He is still here because there are no better alternatives out there aside from Ancelotti. This man cannot motivate, is not tactically astute, always experimenting, cannot get the right lineup and worse of all seems clueless in the face of adversity. He threw in Cassano, Insigne and Cerci at HT. Was it 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 or a frankenstein hybrid? or was it a last-ditch gamble and hope for the best?
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:47pm
Barzagli is injured. Chiellini is too tired, and Mr. Prad won't take tem off until they fully injured, just like Euros. Additionally, FULLBACKS don't help and they always caught out of position ! That's why Defence looks shaky and unbalanced. SHIFT TO 3-5-2 !!!
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:44pm
Uruguay played narrow even with a 4-3-3 formation. They do not have true wingers and their fullbacks do not bomb forward regularly. Also they played with 2 strikers in Cavani and Suarez.

Therefore it is stupid not to deploy 5-3-2/3-5-2 in the deciding match. But does Prandelli have the wits to adapt?
Most likely NO. He will stay with 4-3-2-1 and get hammered like what happened in Euro 2012 final.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:37pm
Heat and humidity are excuses. Because I don't see Germany, Netherlands and France complaining. It cannot be the reason for the shambolic display. Otherwise how can you explain why T.Motta (a Brazilian)is among the worst players on the pitch.

Heat does not make you dominated by a pub-tean from the get-go. If anything it is because the Italians are underestimating their CONCACAF counterparts and do not bothered to show up to play. Thought it would be a walk (literally) in the park? Think again
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:23pm
now our only good defensive midfielder DDR is a doubt. Why so many injuries and fitness issues?
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:13pm

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