Tuesday August 23 2016
Ventura's subtle revolution

As Giampiero Ventura prepares to name his first Italy squad, Gaby McKay wonders what we can expect from his Azzurri.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?” Joni Mitchell famously sang, words which may have some resonance to Italy fans at the moment. Antonio Conte’s spell as CT saw the now-Chelsea boss criticised for his selection policy, with many decrying his Euro 2016 pick as the worst Azzurri squad ever sent to a major tournament.

It had already been announced that Conte would be leaving the national team after the European Championships, and many declared that they’d be happy to see the back of him. Fast forward a month and the former Juventus Coach was being lauded, his side having fought their way to the Quarter-Final before being eliminated by Germany on penalties. Suddenly there was far more trepidation surrounding his replacement, Giampiero Ventura.

Arriving from Torino, the 68-year-old’s CV is solid, but hardly spectacular. Prior to being appointed by the Granata, Venturahad been on the bench at Messina, Verona, Pisa and Bari. He has never taken a team into the Champions League. Marcello Lippi and Giovanni Trapattoni may have been veterans when they took the Azzurri job, but those men had Scudetti and European trophies to point to. Indeed, the FIGC initially intended to have Lippi as an advisor to Ventura, before being blocked by a rule over agent influence.

So, a veteran promoted above his station? Not quite. Ventura’s work at Torino was impressive, taking them from Serie B to the Europa League Last 16, but it’s perhaps his record with youth which attracted the FIGC. Conte was often criticised for ignoring the likes of Alessio Romagnoli, Domenico Berardi and Gianluigi Donnarumma in favour of players like Davide Astori, Emanuele Giaccherini and Federico Marchetti. By contrast, Ventura was happy to blood youngsters at Toro, overseeing the development of Matteo Darmian, Marco Benassi and Angelo Ogbonna to name just three.

While the Coach may not include a high number of youngsters in his first squad, expect him to include some fresher faces as the qualification campaign for Russia 2018 progresses. Having already praised the abundance of wingers in Serie A, it’s likely Federico Bernardeschi and Berardi will be given the chance to show what they can do.

At the other end of the pitch, Ventura is looking to convince 35-year-old Andrea Barzagli to reconsider his retirement from international duty, but his Juventus teammate Daniele Rugani and Milan’s Romagnoli should be slowly introduced as deputies for Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

In terms of formation too, Ventura has signalled a departure from Conte’s approach. While Torino often played with the 3-5-2, the new CT has pointed out that this “penalises” the wide players. The new man may start with Conte’s system - Juventus’ BBC defence could be asked to nullify Spain once again in October - but expect him to adapt to a 4-3-3 further down the road to Russia, especially as this tactic is becoming increasingly popular among Serie A clubs.

Being placed in a group with Spain and Albania means a good start is essential, so it makes sense that Ventura would look for continuity in his first squad. However, fans of La Nazionale can be reasonably confident that the side at the end of the campaign will be very different from the one which begins it, with artistry gradually replacing industry.

He may not immediately revolutionise Italy, but eventually Ventura can be expected to rip up the parking lot which Antonio Conte was accused of paving.

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Have your say...
most important of all, I would like to see how Ventura's reading game will be and what solutions will he be able to provide in games where situation is ugly. yep that is a good visual coach should have to offer and that said with the calls up selected. I must say it is too early to judge Ventura but we must do that midway through. There are better coaches than him, but no one wants to take the CT position. I am anxiously waiting for Ancelloti. For now, let us enjoy Ventura's time. Forza Azzurri
on the 28th August, 2016 at 8:33pm
If what is said about Franco Vazquez is true then he is a disgrace. We are not a substitute because we thought we would never get Argentina call up. In my view when you play for a country regardless of friendly or non friendly you shouldnt be allowed to then represent another country. costa did the same and it is in my view really bad. He says he feels Argentinian, therefore he should have rejected Italy callup in the past and waited for Argentina even if he felt he would never get called up.
on the 25th August, 2016 at 4:07pm
Insigne-Giuseppe Rossi

Good luck, Ventura!
on the 24th August, 2016 at 6:21pm
I forgot Belotti, he definitely deserves a call also. We need to hit the ground running in what in my view is a tough group. Israel away is a must, we need to start well. Ventura has said a lot of positive and encouraging things particularly around young players getting the opportunity, actions speak louder than words, I hope he delivers on his promises and slowly if not straight away gets rid of all the dead wood Conte called up for the euros.
on the 24th August, 2016 at 2:57pm
Lets hope and pray Ventura gives youth a chance to shine. In the next 2 years I hope to see the likes of Donnarumma, Masina, Rugani, Romagnoli, Berardi, Sensi, Baselli, Benassi, Pavoletti all called up. Also hoping Lapadula does well at Milan and gets a chance. If Rossi moves and gets game time hope to see him too. Also maybe Giovinco. Insigne needs to be playing regular for Italy too, although he will have to play a lot better than against Pescara.
on the 24th August, 2016 at 2:52pm
I have been reading this site for years, even when it was part of Channel 4. I have spent all these years waiting, wondering; when are these writers going to incorporate some Joni Mitchell lyrics into these articles? What does a man have to do to get a little Joni with his calico. Well my friends, TODAY IS THAT DAY!

Now how about some Lisa Loeb?
on the 23rd August, 2016 at 3:34pm

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