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...
Kudos for the Costa Rican players for playing their hearts out.
The "prima donnas" of Italy and England could not stand the heat, they say.. Heck, give me $10k/week and I am willing to play under the sun every day.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:07pm
Darmian Barzagli Bonucci Chiellini ?
Candreva Pirlo Marchisio

5-3-1-1 defensive formation with emphasis on possession
and tempo control. Who can play the left wingback?
I am still baffled by Prandelli's decision to exclude
Giacherrini who is a versatile workhorse who gives it all
for his country. Prandelli will regret not bringing
Rossi. Parolo, Cassano, Cerci, Motta and AQUILANI??
The list of deadweights goes on.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:02pm
Darmian Barzagli Bonucci/Paletta Chiellini

Candreva De Rossi Pirlo

Immobile Insigne
on the 20th June, 2014 at 11:01pm
After ITA's first game you'd think CP would keep the Darmian-Candreva connection which generated so much ffotball down the right side. Also, Verrati and Pirlo had created such a beautiful circuit that I'd kept them both and maybe put somebody else in (Parolo, Motta) after theyd taken the lead.
I wouldve changed it upfront with Balo taking a breather and subbed by Immobile as well as adding a second striker like Cerci, Cassano or even Insigne. Wouldve been a 4-3-3 sort of.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:54pm
A very poor showing from Motta. I still don't understand Prandelli's love for this guy. Aside from that, this defense is horrendous. We are depending on Chiellini to anchor the back line? Compare that with Cannavaro or Nesta.

Our subs were brought in under desperate measures, so its difficult to judge them in that mode. Prandelli got it all wrong from the beginning.

Buffon way off the mark on a few crosses!

Immobile needs to start.

The usual Italy makes it hard on themselves ..
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:52pm
They will go into the last round playing for a draw (for the sake of conserving energy). And then the masterplan will backfire on them. Galatasaray-Juve.. ring a bell??

The Italian teams of old can pull this off because they had WORLDCLASS defence and able to withstood any unimaginable attacks thrown at them. The thought of Suarez/Messi/Ronaldo/Neymar/Robben running at this defence of Chiellini/Barzagli/Abate makes me shudder.

Second match syndrome? The old Italy would tie, not lost!
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:51pm
Motta is born and bred in Brasilian heat and did not feature in the Manaus match. Yet he looked the most lethargic from the kick-off.. can anybody enlighten me on this??
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:44pm
3-5-2 may be the answer. I am surprised by the number of teams and the success by using this formation in this world cup edition. Chiellini/Bonucci/Paletta/Barzagli look shaky in 4-man backline and surely Suarez and co will make a meal of it. Abate and Motta must be benched. They are beyond useless. Sirigu needs to start next match because I think Buffon will spill several Suarez/Cavani shots and this will prove too costly...
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:39pm
I just want to keep saying Susysusysusy... Juve screw us again. Vialli- italians eat pressure for breakfast. Id love them to eat 'lets just make sure we dont lose - with orange juice'....again we are all faced into this situation. You were praising Mario, but he was rubbish...he is like a 14 year old romantic-so fickle - Baudelaire would write about it....we need solidity, general solidity - not fickle teenagers under the spell of the latest mood.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:36pm
Agree totally...Prandelli, is getting the headlines because ultimately he has tinkered unnecessarily (again!) Why make changes to a winning side? I don't get it. Balotelli should be dropped for Uruguay game, he proved he's just not clinical enough. Mistake to bring back Buffon so soon, looked shaky. Why leave Verratti out? Motta is useless. Cassano should play from the start. Abate should not play after today. I'd play same team V England minus Candreva and Balotelli for Cassano and Immobile.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 10:19pm

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