Italy headed out to Brazil with hope of a positive World Cup, but returned confused and broken after group stage elimination. Relive with Luca Cetta the highs and mostly lows from the Azzurri’s month in South America.
Friday June 6 - Cesare Prandelli’s team is unpredictable – and that’s the way he likes it. Speaking to the Press after the Azzurri touched down in Brazil early in the morning, the CT acknowledged Italy has many faces: “If you haven’t worked [the formation] out, it shows we are on the right track. We don’t want anyone to understand anything, these are matches that will be played on certain balances.”
Saturday June 7 - Italy have settled into their Portobello Resort, home for the next month. Two training sessions helped shake the jetlag. Meanwhile, the Gazzetta dello Sport has focused on the Azzurri’s lack of goals in recent matches, just eight in seven matches. The pink paper further stressed the issue by noting only three goals have come from strikers.
However, Giorgio Chiellini is more concerned with the Italian defence. “We have spoken a lot [about the defence] amongst ourselves,” Chiellini said. “It’s an aspect for us to improve.”
Sunday June 8 - Italy are finally back on the winners list, defeating Brazilian club side Fluminense 5-3. An experimental Azzurro line-up gained winning momentum ahead of the World Cup opener on Saturday. Ciro Immobile was on fire, netting a hat-trick and setting up two for Lorenzo Insigne.
Cesare Prandelli called it an ‘interesting’ evening. “This evening we saw some interesting things. Insigne and Immobile did well. We need to have more courage, but our condition is good.
Monday June 9 - While training was off following the match yesterday, 1982 World Cup winner Franco Causio warns the Azzurri of being over-confident: “Sometimes, too many expectations create unnecessary expectations.”
Meanwhile, the Corriere dello Sport posed the question on their website as to who should start in attack against England - Ciro Immobile or Mario Balotelli. Following his Fluminense hat-trick, the voters are clearly aligned with the new Borussia Dortmund striker, 86 per cent to 14 per cent.
Tuesday June 10 - “She said yes,” a beaming Mario Balotelli tweeted late yesterday. “The most important yes of my life.” As Super Mario arrived at training today - not long before the session was interrupted by heavy rain - he was greeted with a round of applause from his teammates, his engagement to girlfriend Fanny Neguesha made official.
While Balotelli’s Monday night was a magical one, talk has centred on whether Ciro Immobile can become the ‘new Salvatore Schillaci’, he of the Notti Magiche at Italia ’90. The man who gave Schillaci a chance, Azeglio Vicini, believes it is ‘too early’ to compare the two, but Toto himself says Immobile can be a secret weapon.
“There are the prerequisites for Immobile to be Prandelli’s secret card,” Schillaci has commented to the Corriere dello Sport. “He has played and scored a lot this season, he is in excellent shape and has great enthusiasm just as I did in 1990.”