Wednesday October 14 2015
Where do Italy go from here?

There’s no question the Azzurri are in transition, but Edo Dalmonte sees light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s tough to talk about La Nazionale these days. There are very few certainties, after an up-and-down qualifying campaign.

Our imaginary Azzurri building blocks are full of red flags. Italy are unbeaten in fifty qualifiers? Sure, against the likes of Bulgaria and Malta. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci still make elementary mistakes in an Azzurri shirt. Marco Verratti still has developing to do.

There are so many doubts that’s it is worth asking whether we’re asking the right questions, or contextualising them properly. For example, is having a great squad enough to do well? A combination of Maldini, Cannavaro, and Nesta played in France 1998 as well as World Cup 2002, and won nothing.

Calcio fans are worried about the future, namely the lack of talent coming through and the limited opportunities it gets to spread its wings. But weren’t those same concerns present before Euro 2012? Sure, Prandelli’s squad was better, it could rely on the defence and be creative enough in attack, not to mention having talents like Andrea Pirlo, coupled with a Mario Balotelli in the form of his life.

The question then is, can a positive cohesive unit be built in just a few months? More importantly, with the Championships expanding and the draw potentially throwing up the likes of Portugal, Iceland and the Czech Republic, can Conte’s men break down packed defences without ending up like Holland - who finished behind the latter two and didn’t make the tournament -  as well as picking up enough momentum to go deep into the tournament?

That remains to be seen. Antonio Conte has complained of feeling “alone” and of a lack of co-operation from big clubs just when he needs to build a team. He does, however, have a reputation for moulding very good teams out of decent players, rather than decent teams out of great players, something Azzurri fans have seen all too often. His Stakhanovite approach should stop his players from melting in the sun and getting run off the park, as Prandelli’s charges did in Brazil.

Moreover, the Azzurri looked much sharper with 4-4-2/4-2-4 against Azarbaijan and Norway, with Verratti pulling the strings in midfield against the former and Roberto Soriano looking promising against the Scandinavians.

They may not be a team yet, but the chemistry between Eder and Graziano Pelle can be relied upon in attack, the same with Bonucci and Chiellini at the back, Verratti and Claudio Marchisio in midfield. If Italy can keep creating numerical superiority in certain areas and break through, rather than spread the ball around and into the opposition box, they’ll have made progress. For once, they have a reliable striker in Pelle. Five years ago, he was earning a Serie A spot with Sampdoria. Now, he could be Italy’s hard-working, poor man’s Christian Vieri.

With any luck, the middle of the park will be able to shield the defence in the absence of a true enforcer. Antonio Candreva or Soriano hold things together and players like Verratti, Pelle and Eder can provide the spark, with the likes of Alessandro Florenzi and Matteo Darmian wreaking havoc on the wings.

Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne should also come into contention, with the playmaker in the form of his life under Maurizio Sarri. The little Neapolitan represents a genuine trump card, who can turn the game with a moment of magic, something not many other countries can boast.

But even this may not be enough. Working hard is great, but everyone at a major competition will do that. Italy had Nesta, Cannavaro and Gattuso to build around in 2006. Talented though they are, Chiellini, Bonucci and Marchisio are not in the same bracket.

For all his good work, Conte could be a hindrance, too, especially if Italy are as flat as Juventus were in their Champions League outings under his tutelage.

The good news is that Conte has always been his own man, and will build a team in his image. Coming off a catastrophic World Cup and with low expectations, the Lecce native has more room for manoeuvre, and more freedom to find the right mix. If Lippi and Donadoni were weighed down by (or chose to be tied to) previous successes, Conte will tread his own path.

What’s more, he has time. Even Italy’s squad in 2006 only began to show improvement late on - remember the 4-1 win over Germany in a pre-World Cup friendly?

It’s not as if the rest of Europe has made major steps in the right direction, either. France will be weighed down by home pressure, England are England, Spain could still be haunted by their showing in Brazil… you get the picture. If the Davids can be taken care of, it may just be that the Goliaths aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

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Have your say...
The answer to The question; then is, can a positive cohesive unit be built in just a few months? No, I doubt Italia will have positive cohesive squad for Euro'16. The players at the disposal of Conte needs much time & hard work to be very strong one. I must say, that Italia will not go through the group stage. Perhaps in time, Veratti & Co will advance to the quarterfinals only in WC'18. If I were you guys, I won't raise too much hope for now, future looks OK if all the elements combined well.
on the 2nd November, 2015 at 10:22am
I said Boateng is the best passer of a ball of any defender in the world. I never said he was the best defender. I never use stats to judge players and I think that both Bonucci and Barzagli are better footballers than Chiellini but he is a better defender than them. I hope you did not just say he is physically superior to Cannavaro and he has never got a red card. I dont like him cos he is a douche that likes diving and getting ppl into trouble.
on the 23rd October, 2015 at 6:16pm
Thnks @Dennis, yes, Chiellini has much better passing rates, Boateng is so inconsistent, some games be throws away 70% of his long balls, he plays riskier, this is not hard to see. Chiellini is statistically superior, he's physically superior to the old defenders, extremely consistent and never takes red cards, unlike Boateng.
on the 23rd October, 2015 at 8:54am
Even Baggio, one of Italy's greatest players, was scandalously only given 56 international caps. With respect to Inzaghi, successive coaches thought he was not physical enough even though his record suggested otherwise. There is also the matter that he came about in an Era where there was Vieri, Del Piero and Totti ahead of him.
on the 20th October, 2015 at 5:50pm
@Strummerman It's because of the recent Italian notion that foreign is better and the propensity for coaches and clubs to invest in mediocre foreign 'talent' while ignoring promising Italian ones. Also, Italian coaches, while world renowned, focus too much on tactics and too little on fantasy. There is no reason that a talent such as Gabbiadini can't play with Higuain and it is that same mentality that has caused players such as Mancini and Signori to not play up top with Baggio more often.
on the 20th October, 2015 at 5:45pm
@Anonymous I rest my case as I cannot even begin to understand you when your opening salvo states that Chiellini is better than Boateng in passing the ball. I am just gobsmacked that anyone can make such a comment. Yes dude you are the most competent and Chiellini is def the best ever defender in every department.
on the 20th October, 2015 at 4:36pm
Italy can do well in the Euros as long as the team is united and play with intensity. Conte will certainly give them that drive and I hope he bloods more youngsters in the squad (Like Rugani, Romagnoli, Basseli, Benassi for example) to give them vital tournament experience to take into their preparation for Russia 2018.
on the 19th October, 2015 at 10:57pm
Chiellini > Boateng in passing, versus Zaza the latest match an example, PLEASE watch him more carefully. Chiellini is a more physical, modern defender with extreme intelligence, Cannavaro or Nesta could never triumph in so many aerial / land duels. Chiellini can't tackle Yaya because he's a midfielder? LOL, Dennis clearly has no competence in this area, Yaya made a powerful run, with the physical talent he possesses, but Chiellini read David Silva's amazing pass and completely humiliated Touré.
on the 19th October, 2015 at 8:33pm
Mil Int- I think the last 2 performances should get Giovinco a start at least in one of the 2 friendlies. The issue for me is frittering away of talent. Young Italians with potential seem to be passing their youth on the bench including in the last years Balo, Destro, Insigne, Gabbiadini, Immobile, and Giovinco. Inzaghi for instance never played in a deciding game for the azzurri even though he is Italy's leading scorer in Champions league. Do these managers really know what they are doing?
on the 19th October, 2015 at 3:04pm
My 23 (with alternatives in brackets)


De Sciglio

De Rossi

(El Shaarawy)
on the 19th October, 2015 at 1:50pm
@Strummerman Fair enough. I was only referring to the fact that all 3 players started as substitutes and were all able to force their way into the starting 11 for a time by performing and scoring in their limited minutes, something Giovinco has not been able to do.
on the 18th October, 2015 at 7:46pm
Cannavaro was not a ball playing defender. The best defender by a country mile today in passing the ball is Jerome Boateng but he has nothing on Cannavaro. I am not a Johnny come lately and have very little time for "my era is better than your era". Cannavaro and Nesta are far superior to Chielini. I started watching before Cannavaro started playing so I am not going by videos or distorted memory. Cannavaro could pass the ball but that was not his forte. It's not as if Chiellini is Beckenbauer
on the 18th October, 2015 at 5:13pm
Dennis, I invite you to focus on cannavaro while watching those slightly amplified videos of the past - find a single pass, just one, that cannavaro successfully completes from defence. Don't let a shimmering past thwart the good that is happening today
on the 18th October, 2015 at 1:48pm
Milan Int totally disagree. Schillaci played virtually every game the whole 90 minutes in WC 1990, how this relates to Gio barely ever playing don't know. Zola played great for his club team but all I remember was a red card in WC 94 and leading Italy nowhere in 1996. As for Massaro don't remind me why he played in the final against Brazil is beyond me while we sat Signori and Zola. Waiting for Gio to get those full 90 minutes
on the 17th October, 2015 at 12:20am
@Anonymous please stop exposing yourself. Your reasons for saying Chiellini is better than Cannavaro and Nesta are just ravings. Physical duel with Yaya Toure? What are you 12? Toure is usually a weak link of City's in the champions league and he is a midfielder so not sure why Chiellini would be marking him. Besides he might be big and strong looking but Toure is not a physical player. Go watch Nesta and Cannavaro videos. Anyone comparing Chiellini to these guys should not be taken seriously.
on the 16th October, 2015 at 6:53pm
Totally ignoring the contribution of Sebastian Giovinco! He steps on the pitch and immediately creates chances. Conte didn't use him at Juve and that was a mistake. He's much more dangerous that Eder or Pelle.
on the 16th October, 2015 at 6:09pm
As long as Balotelli is KEPT OUT, there should be a greater power in the scoring department, which is what we need to win. Pepe Rossi needs to return. Combine with El Sha, Pelle, Immobile, perhaps Quagliarella as a reserve, and you have a formidable strike force.

Luca Cigarini, depending in his form, should be considered to fill the role of Pirlo. Florenzi, Giovinco, De Rossi, Verratti, Giacherini, Marchisio, Canderv in midfield should be a group of experienced players.

Again, this ROOT problem is that cheap foreigners are in our league, STEMMING the growth of Italian native players. How are we going to win a WC if they don't stop that???
on the 16th October, 2015 at 5:57pm
For crying out loud!!isn't it time Pirlo retired from football? His inclusion just stinks of sheer desperation. I can understand San Marino or Faroe Islands including a player of that age in their squad because they only have 28 players in the entire country to pick from - but Italy?? Its time to move on. Plus, whoever says Balo should be part of this team need to have their head examined.
on the 16th October, 2015 at 3:10pm
I'm glad Italy are starting to play well although I think it is a real shame that Italy never make the most of their best strikers- just think of Marco Simone, Vincenzo Montella, Marco Delvecchio, Fabrizio Miccoli (with him and Quagliarella at gthe 2010 WC, just think what might've been), among others.
Also, what happened to the brilliant Quagliarella? I thought he was back in the runnings?
Insigne and El Shaarawy are very over rated, to my mind.
Still, Forza Azzurri, whoever plays..
on the 16th October, 2015 at 11:42am
Everyone says Chiellini isn't like Maldini, Nesta and Cannavaro, but nobody really said why, this says how little people actually know bout football.

Let me ask you if you saw the game against City, with Juve winning 2 to 1? You probably didn't, or barely noticed Chiellini's physical duel with Yaya Touré, who is considered one of the strongest in the game. Chiellini totally mauled him over, making him look like a frightened little chicken. Could anyone of the previous generation do the same? NO
on the 16th October, 2015 at 7:03am
@Strummerman Players such as Zola,Massaro and Schilacci did much more with much less in the same role he has now. So let's agree to disagree. He certainly is the Messi of MLS though. I'll given him that.
on the 16th October, 2015 at 2:47am
@Edo Dalmonte

I completely agree in Germany some of their young players were born there however most of them moved to Germany at a young age. Still they are taking talented players from other countries and developing them while we have all this talent and aren't doing anything with it.

Also i don't know what the deal is here with people belittling Chiellini. Currently he is very much the Maldini or Nesta of the current generation there aren't very many defenders that are currently better.
on the 15th October, 2015 at 10:47pm
Seriously milan int 23 games picking up blisters on the bench like he did for juventus. Let him play a full 90 minutes for crissakes When Giovinco was allowed to play for Parma he produced. You cannot produce playing 10 minutes when the game is already settled
on the 15th October, 2015 at 7:03pm
Pelle may be just "ok" to some (not me as I think he creates space for his team mates and does so much more than only score) but is miles better than Zaza. Also, some of Eder's ancestors are Italian and according to Italian law that makes him eligible to call himself Italian. I wonder if you would say the same if Messi, Icardi, Dybala, Zanetti, Batistuta, Maradona etc had chosen to play for the Azzurri instead?
on the 15th October, 2015 at 6:27pm
Giovinco does not start for Italy because he has been given 23 games and done nothing with those chances. He is only here now because of the lack of alternatives.
on the 15th October, 2015 at 6:21pm
I think conte picks the wrong players at this point he should know who the starters are.
I would love to see a midfield of candreva verratti marchisio florenzi. Florenzi is not a right back and is wasted there. Pelle is ok. Zaza should start with either giovinco or insigne up front. Play 4-4-2 that can change to 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1. Eder is good but he's not Italian. We have great young players but no one gives them chances.
on the 15th October, 2015 at 5:15pm
my 23 man roster for Euros
gk- buffon,perin-sirigu

defence- florenzi-darmian-de sciglio-antonelli-astori-chiellini-bonucci-romagnoli

Midfield- Verratti-marchisio-jorginho-bertolacci-soriano

Attack- pelle-balotelli-insigne-el shaarawy-berardi-eder-candreva

may b giovinco or rossi have chances if they r in good form

line up 4:2:4


surely v can get results in dis squad
on the 15th October, 2015 at 4:21pm
Why is Giovinco not starting for Italia. Seriously do the other strikers have this creativity? This is what Italy lacks and why it is not feared anymore. We have this talent let's use it
on the 15th October, 2015 at 3:39pm
Azzurri played well. I think conte is taking then in the right direction, no team becomes a world beater in a few weeks. I would like minor changes, Giovinco instead of Eder and also Insigne either as a sub or on wings, El Shaarawy Candreva and Florenzi are all good in 4-4-2 and Bonaventura is an option too.
on the 15th October, 2015 at 2:34pm
All I can say is that when we went to WC 1978,everybody thought exactly as most of the comments that I have read.We were brilliant in that WC and did not win it only due to presumption against the Dutch otherwise we would have won then and in 1982!We Italians will always try our best at tournements.Yes,I know we did awful in 2010 and 2014 but lets be honest Marchisio should have never been sent off.U21 are also doing very well.All we need to do is get faster in passing the ball and we will win.
on the 15th October, 2015 at 12:39pm

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