Thursday June 2 2016
Underestimating Bonaventura

Antonio Conte will above all regret not bringing Milan’s Giacomo Bonaventura to Euro 2016, argues Richard Hall.

Antonio Conte released his 23-man squad for the Euros in France to the usual pessimistic groans in Italy. Let’s be clear, if the squad had included players of Roberto Baggio and Sandro Mazzola’s quality, the result would have been the same, there is always disillusionment before a tournament when the Azzurri are involved.

This year it seems like these grumblings may have some reason to them, as the squad looks weaker than it has in decades, especially up front. It was also a surprise that the final selection saw Giacomo Bonaventura omitted, as Milan’s creative winger was left behind in what seems like a bizarre decision.

Moments before the announcement was made, both Sky Italia and Gazzetta Dello Sport presented the final squads, but differed in opinion on who was included. The former Atalanta wide man had been replaced by Federico Bernardeschi by the pink paper and as it came to pass it was this version that was correct.

Fiorentina’s versatile wide man who broke through under Paolo Sousa has performed admirably whether on the wing, as Trequartista or at wing back, and the 21-year old certainly is not a shock pick. The Viola number 10 is on the road to becoming a valuable asset for club and country, but he is certainly a long way from having the talent or ingenuity that can transform a game in a major tournament. In fact, he is arguably the perfect Conte pick, as whilst he is versatile, he is also pragmatic. He works hard, he does more than one job well and he is not going to deviate from his task, despite his penchant for taking on the odd player.

When the Azzurri boss later implied that his team would (due to their inherent weaknesses) play a Catenaccio style of football off set with quick counter attacks, the choice all of a sudden looks a little more puzzling. Whilst the Juventus based back three and goalkeeper will arguably be the strongest and most united defence in the tournament, the team still need to unlock the opponent’s defences, and it is in these counter-attacking moves that Bernardeschi perhaps will not offer enough going forward.

Bonaventura, on the other hand, is simply a player that Italy have nothing else like. Despite his hard working attitude on the training ground and his leadership qualities, he shows more dazzling attributes on the pitch. As Milan tried once again to implode, even more than they have in previous seasons, the 26-year-old has been impressive creating and scoring goals when he has had little or no help from his confused team.

His maturity would have offered much to the team but his vision, awareness and ability to exploit the space could be missed especially if Conte employs his counter attacking methods in the tournament. Whether in a 4-3-3 or a version of 3-5-2, he would be able to adapt to either formation as it changes in and out of possession.  It is true that Bernardeschi can do this too, but he hasn’t the ability to unlock a defence, provide that perfect final ball or create a goal out of nothing like Giacomo can.

With seven goals and eight assists and an 82% pass completion rate, many of which are offensive, in all competitions he has weighed in with his fair share. Statistically he is the Rossoneri’s best performer this year and was their second top scorer. What the statistics do not tell you is about his trickery on the ball and how he can bring defenders onto him creating space for his teammates. His pace also would have helped Conte, as Milan have had to (or been forced to) play in a similar manner this term.

There is no doubt that the Azzurri will be disciplined, motivated and well-drilled in France when kick off comes around, but if they are trying to unlock the door of another resolute defence, they may regret not bringing along Giacomo Bonaventura. 

Have your say...
I am a milan fan for almost 3 decades and the one who wrote this about bonaventura is blind and know nothing about football. if bonaventura was on the time of the teams before 2007 then the milan players will kick his a.. because he is so selfish and does not qualify to be on milan bench and not as starter, if there was a good milan team like before. 2nd how dare you compare him to Baggio! lol you are a real joke. Man that player is a joke. no wonder he gon no offers from any team in europe.
on the 21st August, 2016 at 9:45pm
Just watched a skills, assists n goals video of him for 2015/16. That boy has some serious skill. Loved the ' Weah ' trick where he took it out on his outer foot n then brought it back in with his inner boot all while constantly touching the ball. He's effective too. Only thing I can think is he may not be as good as some at tracking back or Conte may just prefer players with similar playing styles to himself? Jack is versatile though too. Maybe his fitness wasn't great?
on the 6th June, 2016 at 10:56pm

He should have def been in the squad. Last 7-8 gams for milan? What? He was out 2 games
on the 6th June, 2016 at 6:20pm
Prandelli Where are you?
Prandelli going was wrong. He was much better than Conte.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 10:52am
Conte is a traitor !
He ignored many worthy players...
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 10:41am
at least italy aren't alone in leaving behind key players the likes of bernando silva mata lacazette tielmens reus coman daniel carrico coentrao sakho gaya trapp a team of players which really should be making their national teams. some of them may injuries or suspensions however most seem unusual exceptions form their respective teams.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 10:13am
it is to be expected lets be honest conte used most of these players for his qualification campaign. still leaving out bonnaventura giovinco and berrardi for me is just crazy, even a late 30s pirlo is going to be a miss. this is a team already without the likes of verratti and marchisio why leave out one of the best midfield players in the league. Instead they brought motta and parolo seems like a mistake to me.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 9:59am
people are eager to criticize conte here (for reasons some dont understand themselves), but he and italy will have a great euro 2016, despite having one of the worst italian national team ever.
i reckon they will reach the semis, but the concern here is that the future for the world cup 2018 is uncertain cuz conte's going and italy is not producing young upcoming superstars at all.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 7:48am
for all those who're angry at Conte need to re-watch the last 7 or 8 games of AC Milan... for some of it he was injured and in the rest he was piss poor out of form... He neither has the fitness nor the form to go to france. Guys like Sturaro aren't going to Euros because they robbed Bonaventura his chance, they are going because Bonaventura was NOT fit and/or in form enough..

as for the overall quality of the squad, that's all you can get. It's not Conte's fault our current generation sucks.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 6:07am
Worst squad in living memory. I almost don't want to watch the games as the Italy quality is so low and the style of play conte has achieved is boring. I'd rather he sent the under 21s. Italy out in the group stages for sure.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 12:37am
Deserving of the article at the very least.

Motta(#10) in for Eder and Conte plays a 3421 but forgets Bonaventura.
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 12:34am
Totti and Pirlo would of been better options than this midfield conte the donkey is bringing in......
on the 3rd June, 2016 at 12:02am
Not seen that much of him but I liked his playing style even when he was at Atalanta n he's continued that good form at a ' big ' club. Very unlucky not be involved. Strange decision this one!!??
on the 2nd June, 2016 at 10:26pm
Bernardeschi is one of the few inspiring choices Conte made with his squad. This writer is flat out wrong in his reasoning. I agree that Bonaventura should go to France, but it should be at the expense of one of his more idiotic selections like Sturaro, Giacc, Immobile, Eder, Ogbonna, and El Shaarway.
on the 2nd June, 2016 at 10:17pm
Thank You Chelsea and England for taking Conte away from Italy. Even though Italy will fail at the Euro 16 we will at least be gone of someone who is dimwitted and a failure by all accounts in major tournaments. Run away Conte and good riddance. Lets hope the door hits you in the azz on your way out.
on the 2nd June, 2016 at 6:07pm
bernardeschi is surely btr...bcoz he is quick,,dynamic,versatile operates anywhere...bona is little bit slow..
bt not cmpare berna&bona..cmpare bona&giak..bona should in&giak out..
on the 2nd June, 2016 at 3:48pm
Always liked Italian style and Bonaventura is an example of same!
Mr. Conte in his BBC interview today states,"I like to play offensive football and attractive football with great intensity," but yet picks a flatfooted journeyman like Parolo in midfield area as opposed to Bonaventura!
He points the need for experience over youth but that 'experience' has produced little but failure in recent major tournaments.
Motta, too one-footed, will be shown up (as was in CL) for the player he is - limited!
on the 2nd June, 2016 at 1:38pm
I agree with this blog. Our Midfield is going to be workmanlike at best and in a tight match where we need to score and unlock a stubborn defence we could really do with a player with Bonaventura's abilities. Admittedly towards the end of the season his form dropped slightly and he was hampered by injury but i think some of that is down to tiredness as at certain times this season he almost single handedly dragged Milan through matches! Lets hope Conte doesn't rue his decision to omit him.
on the 2nd June, 2016 at 1:36pm

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