Tuesday October 4 2016
Italy's attacking evolution

New Italy boss Giampiero Ventura is changing the Azzurri one step at a time, starting from the front, writes Chloe Beresford.

Italy Coach Giampiero Ventura has selected his squad ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Spain, which will be played at the Juventus Stadium on October 6. The Azzurri will go into the match in confident mood, after they defeated La Roja 2-0 just over three months ago in the Euro 2016 Round of 16.

Since then, their opponents have replaced veteran boss Vicente Del Bosque with ex-Porto man Julen Lopetegui and so the encounter will provide an interesting test for Ventura. The former Torino man explained in his pre-match Press conference that the game – although important – would not prove to be decisive.

This may have been a small sign, as the Spanish national team have not lost a World Cup qualifier in 23 years, but the 68-year-old’s selections in attack prove that he has the desire to go for the victory.

There was no place in the squad for Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne or Stephan El Shaarawy – both of whom were taken to Euro 2016 – but neither have been ever present in their respective sides in the opening weeks of Serie A. Whilst form is obviously an important part of squad selection, Ventura has a clear plan with which to deploy his attacking players.

His 3-5-2 formation has led to the exclusion of the aforementioned wide men, but has paved the way for some exciting strikers that can be used in a front-two partnership. Andrea Belotti is one of those players, having started this season exactly where he left off in the previous campaign.

In just four starts for Torino, the man nicknamed “Il Gallo” (the rooster) has scored five goals and provided one assist, including a hat-trick against Bologna in Week Two. There was also a place for his ex-Granata teammate Ciro Immobile, who scored in Italy’s win over Israel in September. Belotti missed this match through injury, but Ventura has spoken of his desire to deploy them together at some point during the Azzurri’s next two matches.

It is a man playing on foreign soil however, whose explosive form has been rewarded with a call-up. Utilised as part of a two man strike force in Villarreal’s 4-4-2 formation, Nicola Sansone has scored four goals in his first seven Liga appearances.

Adapting to life in a new country, the 25-year-old also appears at ease working in a new formation, after he was part of Sassuolo’s regular 4-3-3 during his three seasons with Eusebio Di Francesco at the Mapei Stadium. His flexibility in changing his role has been a key factor in this recent call up, as Ventura has sought out players who will slot easily into his football philosophy.

There was little doubt that the Azzurri squad needed an overhaul after Antonio Conte, as exciting young players such as Domenico Berardi and Gigi Donnarumma were ignored, while Insigne and El Shaarawy were included only to be barely used.

Whilst the latter pair have not even received a call-up on this occasion, it is perhaps easier to understand the reason behind this, as Ventura has taken the time to explain that it will be difficult for these players to find a spot in his system.

It may not be the revolution that was needed, but in calling up the likes of Belotti and Sansone, the new boss is making careful moves towards change one step at a time.

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Have your say...
After just a couple of games it's apparent that Ventura is a dinosaur. All he had to do last night was replicate what we did to Spain in the euros - but oh no, in true Italian, stubborn old man style, he decides to change the players and mentality of the squad - back to the same old over respectful, defensive style. Montolivo and Florenzi in for Verratti and Candreva? what a joke!. On the plus side Romagnoli and Belotti look like class players. Pity we have a manager living in the dark ages.
on the 7th October, 2016 at 1:59pm
I don't think there is another nation in world football that leaves their best players at home more than Italy. Too much time is spent getting the players to fit the tactics and not the tactics to fit the players. This was so evident on today's 1-1 draw with Spain. Too bad there aren't more coaches like Ancelotti who determines the tactics based on the best players available.
on the 6th October, 2016 at 10:33pm
Immobile in, Insigne out? ABSURD! chris and Dsquib are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!
on the 6th October, 2016 at 6:08pm
De Rossi as playmaker in midfield? Montolivo called up? Sounds like same old problem in midfield. One is a liability both physically and mentally and the other is mediocre at best. Until Old goat Italian coaches step out of the way and let young, creative, players like Jorginho, Berardi, Insigne, SES, Giovinco play, Italy will continue to disappoint in the results dept. Overly obsessed with tactics is the right label for Italian coaches, you can see it in their player choices.
on the 6th October, 2016 at 4:32pm

I'd love Gab to get a run also, but he really needs to start performing better for Napoli.

He's just not taking the chances he's been given.
on the 6th October, 2016 at 12:31am
remo girlato,

You've missed the point entirely. The fact is that Eder was born and raised in Brazil. He is not Italian and never will be Italian.

The fact that Italy have to look at players from other nations to fill up their squad is a disgrace, for a football-mad country like Italy.

Not bashing Brazil in any shape or form. Of course Brazil are soccer royalty. Again, you've completely missed my meaning on the subject.

Italy, please pick Italians and show some self-respect.
on the 6th October, 2016 at 12:26am
I'm very disappointed that Jorginho has been left out. Montolivo is a good player, but is too timid and makes too many sloppy errors. And as much as I rate De Rossi, he is a liability when it comes to fitness and temperament. Going forward, I'd like to see Belotti & Berardi as our forward pairing, with Marchisio, Verratti and Jorginho as our midfield trio.
on the 5th October, 2016 at 5:20pm
Why has Montilivo STILL not been dropped, its bad enough him starting for Milan let alone getting called up. Can no football managers really not see he is AWFUL.
on the 5th October, 2016 at 2:25pm
If Pelle is still getting called Giovinco definitely should get a chance. Hope Gabbadini plays and gets a chance. I think he can make a difference from open play and set pieces
on the 5th October, 2016 at 2:12am
@Maradonamac 'rely on a Brazilian'.. forward? right, we should instead rely on the brazilian electoral system, or preservation of the rainforest or the movement to the betterment of the favelas.
what do you think you are contributing to the conversation? if nothing else, brazil's attacking verve is the leitmotif of brazil and the history of soccer. you are just a pathetic, pathetic denier.
on the 5th October, 2016 at 2:03am
Saddest Italy squad I think I've ever seen. Italy have zero top class options in the forward positions. The fact that they rely on a Brazilian says everything about how far they have fallen.

Why can't a nation like Italy produce their own world class center forwards?
on the 4th October, 2016 at 11:22pm
As long as i don't see Balotelli in this squad i am happy! Keep him away and we will be fine. We have enough talent without. Scoring goal in france is one thing but in tough leagues he failed!
Belotti and beradi should be the focus.
on the 4th October, 2016 at 10:59pm
@ Chris, @dSquib It's understandable that he's sticking with 3-5-2 when you consider the success of it against Spain in recent years. I think this would be the worst moment he could possibly choose to abandon this formation.

His comments about them not having space in the current system seemed to suggest that this is only a temporary situation and to have patience.

If Balo maintains his rise and reaches his true potential, Italy will be genuine World cup contenders.
on the 4th October, 2016 at 8:54pm
If his system means Berardi, Insigne and SES can't feature then he needs to change his system. 4-3-3 or 3-4-3. And why can't any of the aforementioned he the Cerci at Torino of his team? They are all better than Cerci.
on the 4th October, 2016 at 6:34pm
I've said it before, but I can't think of any other nation that excludes its best players like Italy does. Everyone can see that Insigne and Jorginho should be called up.

We have really talented wide-men, like Insigne, El Shaarawy, Candreva - that's where our strength is currently. So *that* should shape the formation / tactics. Maybe their agents, along with Jorginho's, aren't paying the right people.
on the 4th October, 2016 at 6:18pm
Like some of the choices but not sure why someone who can't start for Inter is chosen like Eder. As well Insigne and the pharaoh are the future I hate when they are called up for the tourney( if Italy qualifies ) never playing any of the qualifiers. Insigne made a pivotal pass against Spain in Euro2016 to seal the victory. If Balo continues scoring in Nice he will be called up soon as well. Still think Giovinco can play a role when healthy.
on the 4th October, 2016 at 3:10pm

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