Monday June 30 2014
Stick or twist for the Azzurri?

Following Italy’s chaotic exit from the World Cup, Luca Persico questions whether there is a need for a squad overhaul.

“Those who tell us to think carefully if we want to continue should look at who is still the focal point of this Nazionale. You have to judge people on what they are doing, not what they could potentially do.”

Gianluigi Buffon is never one to mince his words. Four days on from Italy’s surprise World Cup exit, the 36 year-old was ready to have his say.

“I often hear ironic comments on the ages of Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Barzagli and also Buffon,” he continued. “Idle chatter passes by and the facts remain on the field - the players who break their bones for the cause are always the same ones, every time.

“If you are young and have the talent to become a champion, you don’t play for the Nazionale after three or four games. You have to earn your stripes in Serie A. Now after three good performances a player gets into the squad and takes everything for granted.”

Buffon’s attack was aimed at some of the younger and more inexperienced factions of the Azzurri squad.

The gambles Head Coach Cesare Prandelli had taken failed to have the desired impact and the veteran goalkeeper was seemingly questioning the wisdom of his selections.

Rumours of players not training properly, arguments between Buffon and Cassano, plus problems with the ever-frustrating Mario Balotelli seemed to back up the Juve man’s comments.

To see Italy’s campaign crumble from the inside is not only disheartened, but also a concern for whoever will replace Prandelli.

A lot of the players who have come in for criticism - Mattia Destro, Lorenzo Insigne, Balotelli and more - are supposedly the future. If they aren't respected and trusted by their peers then how can Italy move forward?

As good as Buffon, Pirlo and the like have been and continue to be, they cannot go on forever. Of the senior players, only Giorgio Chiellini and, perhaps Buffon and De Rossi will realistically make the next World Cup. There could be an argument therefore to have a complete rebuild and regeneration. 

If the younger squad members are brought out of the looming shadows of Buffon and alike, they would be forced to mature. By continuing to rely on these almost mythical figures, it is easier for them to not accept responsibility.

To cast aside the likes of Buffon and Pirlo - while they are still at their best - would be incredibly brave and unprecedented. But with the Euro 2016 qualifying schedule looking favourable due to UEFA’s ridiculous expansion of the tournament, there may never be a better opportunity to ‘start again’. The aim, after all, is be ready in two years’ time, not now.

Whether this is the best way forward is unclear - it’s merely a suggestion. The main concern in terms of continuity and rebuilding is the likely replacements for Prandelli. Massimiliano Allegri and Roberto Mancini would not naturally build off the excellent foundations of passing and attacking football that have been put down over the last four years. They also come across as indecisive and sometimes divisive - particularly Mancini. The others options, such as Fabio Cannavaro, could turn the Nazionale into an ‘old boys’ clubs, given his relationship with the senior players.

What the future holds for Italy is uncertain. To see Prandelli’s reign fall apart was disappointing, but it shouldn't be discarded. Whoever replaces him must continue down the same path, but whether they do so with the same players remains to be seen.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
The Azzuri has to change Sacci et al and allow Roberto Baggio to run youth development.
As for emotional disturbed players like Balotelli and Cassano. We have had enough antics!
on the 17th July, 2014 at 2:17am
Bottom line Italy has won 4 world cups...2nd to Brazil one penalty is the difference...when you consider that the GRAN TORINO team of the fifties plane crash and the team died and that was pretty much Italy's national team that was awesome in that era Italy could arguably have six titles.....but who cares anymore...For those of u that don't know The World Cup has become one big corporate party manipulated by sponsors who in term leave it to Sepp Blatter to manipulate referees.
on the 4th July, 2014 at 2:42am
Gino - I was having a joke @ Aussies because they think when ever someone else wins its always by luck & when the Aussies win its by skill.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 8:26pm
... as an final addendum, I don't think youth or revival is the problem. There's plenty of potential (although, I admit, there is less that inspires on def). More worrisome is the leagues and who coaches. As long as clubs keep wasting money and roster space on foreign rejects like the Muntari's, fewer youngsters will blossom. Also, if our best choices for coach are Mancini, Alegri and Fabio -'playing beautiful is old'- Capello, Azzuri will be set back 2 decades and young talent wasted
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 8:15pm
..character or emotional stability to reach his full potential. But it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility if his football IQ improves. He is still 3-4 years from his ‘prime'. I wouldn’t dare rely on him, but what IF? Ibra found his top form and maturity in his late 20’s and early 30s. Just saying it would be a huge bonus that’s all. Beyond that, there’s Hachim Mastour. Yes, it’s way early to imagine, but I don’t think so insame to suggest the next neymar-ronaldo etc could be italian
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 7:33pm
The young players in Italy are encouraging. Veratti, Darmian, Desciglio, Rossi are sure bets in the next 2-4 yrs. Plus, Florenzi, Jorghino, Imobile, Destro, El Shar, Berardi, Cristante, Isigne Gabbiadini and many more have huge potential. Even if half those pan out that's a solid nucleus. And that's just those under 27. The likes of cerci, Cigarin, marchisio Candreva etc. still have time to find an extra gear. As for Balo, I personally don't believe he will ever have the ...
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 7:31pm
Roberto Baggio.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 7:16pm

In 2002 we had no less than FIVE disallowed goals.
4 of which were definite goals.Only 1 was debatable.

In 2002 we also had Totti incorrectly sent off.

You could say all the penalty shoot outs we lost was also a case of luck.
Remember not only did we lose a world cup final on pens but also a semi on home ground.

1970 we had to play a semi in searing heat then travel 3000 to play in a final against a team who had an easy semi final in the same city as the final.

Luck works both ways.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 6:51pm
Aussie Bob, if I sat down and wrote down all the times Italy had won something and been lucky at some point, my list would be a long one. My point about Zizi was that it helped us with him going off, but I actually think we'd have won anyway. The thing about winning is you need a touch of luck along the way, but don't tell me that the teams currently left in the WC are ONLY there because they've been lucky. Btw, is it good to sound like a true aussie? Sounds like it should be!?
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 5:36pm
Okay I forgot about Nigeria as Italy are better than them. No pace, no ideas, useless formations, constant tinkering for no good reason. Yes the mushroom league does not help as everyday you read an Italian club interested in yet another mediocre foreigner. Then you wonder why these guys cannot perform at the highest level. Prandelli was doing ok till he reverted to Italian type of fear when it mattered. Italy just regressed in the wc and it was a shame. But if alibis makes u sleep nites then ok
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 12:29pm
Tardelli should have been sent off against Argentina for their barbaric treatment of Maradona. Gentile should have walked against Brazil for tearing off Zico's shirt while on a yellow card. In 2006 I am sure USA scored a goal incorrectly given offside that might have put Italy on a different path of meeting Ukraine in the quarters. Sure to win the wc you need luck but its a nonsense to suggest others were lucky while Italy was not. They were bad end of. To play 1 good half in 3 games is no good.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 12:20pm
Lets get 1 thing straight Italy were not unlucky they were hopeless. Apart from Greece n Switzerland, every team in the 2nd round deserved to be there more than they did. If you are going to talk about luck n diving how about Grosso's against Australia that you no doubt celebrated at the time. Luck played a part in the final too as penalties is about luck too not to mention the fact that France went into it with ZZ, Vieira and Henry. Maradona hit the post in 1982 against Italy, Gentile and tbc
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 12:15pm
Gino your wrong about Zidane in 2006. To say Italy would not have won if Zidane was on the field to the end is like predicting the lotto. Every single game has a input of luck. A deflection, miss-kick, own goal & last but not least being in the right place at the right time. Uruguay's goal against Italy had luck as it did not come off his head, with another ref Marchisio may not have been sent off. The list goes on but who can complain, it happens to all teams. You sound like a true Aussie!
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 10:07am
As Maldinis Heir has said luck plays a big part.
Teams that make it to the later stages of a world cup usually have some luck.

They say this is the best world cup ever.Too early to say.Yet in this world cup whilst the smaller teams have improved the big teams have been poor.


Although France and Holland have played well their teams do not compare with their teams of the past.

1982 had great teams and great players.
For me that was the best world cup.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 7:53am
We can have a revolution in Italian football,we won't because we didn't after 2010,but lets say we do.

The problem is you can try to develop more players,try to limit foreigners (difficult)build new stadiums etc but you would struggle to instil passion and desire into
players.Its that passion and desire that has made Costa Rica,Algeria etc get as far as they have.

England are the worst when it comes to failing due to lack of desire and we are fast catching up.
on the 2nd July, 2014 at 7:48am
Do we think Buffon demanded to play in place of the very good Sirigu against CRC? Buffon was terrible and has been for a while now. We lost this WC back in the last two games of qualification when we didn't win those games and that cost us being seeded. That said we are Italy and should've taken care of this group and proved to FIFA and Blatter that no matter what obstacle you put in our way we will overcome. So what happened to a team that qualified with two games to spare, CP just couldn't motivate them, bad selections, bad tactics, bad substitutions... Balo for me did okay he scored, shots on goal.. But overall poor service, isolated up front. A midfield that didn't move from the centre circle... Forza Azzurri
on the 1st July, 2014 at 8:50pm
Heirs Maldini,you post a lot on this site and I wonder how much footie you've watched?! I can't agree that a lot of luck is involved. Yes,they may get the odd thing go their way, but think Zidane in 2006. Would we have won the cup if france had had zizi to the end? These teams in the quarters all have what we didn't - passion, aggression and a will to win. There are no stand out teams - but we were poor, and they've all scored loads - we didn't deserve to go through - truth hurts!
on the 1st July, 2014 at 8:25pm
The more I watch this world cup the more you have to say luck has played a massive role. Brazil and the Pinilla miss, France and Matuidi not being sent off, Germany and the Algerian misses, Holland and Robben's dive and now Argentina and that miss in 121st minute. In contrast Italy had at least 3 massive bits of misfortune: Marchisio's tackle was no worse than Matuidi's; the missed bite; and Uruguay scored with a shoulder. None of the teams have been fantastic but have had the luck
on the 1st July, 2014 at 6:47pm
What about Mandorlini as our new manager? He has an eye for a player and plays attractive football.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 4:08pm
Been different! This is where we needed a Manager who's won things and is used to taking a top group of players and getting them to play at a level they usually do and instillation winning mentality in them! Just look at Van Gaal, average group of players, Robben and Van Persi aside, but his tactics and formations have been spot on and he's instilled a winning mentality in them! We need Ancelotti ideally but if not Mancini or Conte because they're winning coaches!
on the 1st July, 2014 at 3:51pm
We need a new Manager that's actually won something! Prandelli's never won anything, his strengths lie in taking teams that's are in dire straits or not performing as well as they should and helping them improve and get better which is basically what he did after the 2010 World Cup! This time he had a decent squad of players who were expected do to well and get far in the tournament and this is not where Prandelli's skill set lies! If he'd had a set formation and starting 11 then things would've
on the 1st July, 2014 at 3:46pm
The only senior players I would keep from this World Cup are Chiellini/De Rossi/Marchisio and that's mainly because I think we need some experience in the team to ensure qualification for Euro 2016. Buffon/Pirlo/Barzagli should go due to their ages as they won't be getting any better and in all probability they'll deteriorate! Abate/Paletta/Motta/Aquliani/Parolo/Cassano should go as they're not good enough and Balotelli should go as he's to disruptive to the team!
on the 1st July, 2014 at 3:40pm
We had the players to go further but we didn't have the desire.

If we had a quarter of the passion of teams like Algeria,Chilli and Costa Rica we would have done so much better.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 3:29pm
"The gambles Head Coach Cesare Prandelli had taken failed to have the desired impact.." What gambles? I would agree with this article if Prandelli played the youngsters its referring to, but he didn't play them. I mean he played Motta for Verratti Vs CR....If he had been brave he would have dropped Buffon, Balotelli etc Look at teams like Belgium, Algeria, USA...are they have seasoned pros? No. But they are hungry to play...Italy have and had these players on the bench but CP was too gutless.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 2:21pm
however if prands does have a defect limiting his eventual success, then put in a devis mangia-like to continue with the renewal. recruiting the wrong ct outta knee-jerk reaction renders the glimmers of greatness witnessed by all in the last 4-years as mere nervy twitches of a still-born
on the 1st July, 2014 at 1:42pm
buffon, et al, and their matter-of-fact egoism has created this firewall behind which reality cannot be clearly seen. if you are a self-described senatori, or defined as one, retire from international play.
does anyone really believe deschamps a superior tactician to prandelli? what the former has is a cohesive group that has bought into the approach a team should take to win games.
don't mind prandelli - his critical ground work from a fanless 2010 team have laid foundations for azzurri renewal
on the 1st July, 2014 at 1:35pm
Message to Adrian Gaveglia. Absolutely right. This WC was for the taking. We had the players to have gone all the way. We lost it against CR. The Italian players must be kicking themselves. CP should have taken Rossi instead of Aquilani. Balo likes playing alongside Rossi. Mario didn't play well but was also too alone up front. Like I said before, we need to bring new young players with about 2 veterans such as Chiellini and DDR. Let Conte have the part time job until Carlo is available.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 11:46am
@ Palomao We're a led to believe that the nameless "senatori" were "decisive" in convincing Prandelli to step down. We can probably guess their make up. The more vocal amongst them were De Rossi and Buffon. While I take the story with a pinch of salt if this is true then this is a huge issue. Effectively they turned on the manager. Each player I mentioned I respect and like. But if players are going to start pointing fingers then we can also start looking at their own imperfect records.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 11:29am
Heard it suggested that a senior manager with a young up and coming manager. What about Carlo Mazzone and Roby B? Not sure how Carlo is these days but he is my all time favourite Italian manager for one simple reason, he picked the best players and let them play. Another alternative Zdenek Zeman with A Nesta or Ancelotti (PT) with Cannavarro.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 11:19am
Forget Ogbonna, in 2 or 4 years he will not be any good. He will be lucky to get a hand full of games. Juventus (like many Italian clubs) have bought him to ruin him too, why did he leave Torino? To sit on a bench for a team that wears black n white stripes? This is whats wrong.
on the 1st July, 2014 at 9:05am

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