Tuesday February 8 2011
Giving youth a chance

Cesare Prandelli has named a young Azzurri squad for this week's friendly against Germany. Serafino Ingardia praises his approach

There is something fascinating about the Italy squad which Cesare Prandelli has named ahead of the Germany friendly. The first cap for the latest Oriundo Thiago Motta is obviously very interesting, but the best news is the increased number of youngsters in the squad.

After years of talking about giving youngsters a chance and rejuvenating the team, Prandelli has finally kept his word and started a new process which will hopefully prepare the next generation ahead of Brazil 2014.

The only players aged over 30 are Gigi Buffon and Stefano Mauri, 33 and 31 respectively. While for the goalkeeper an exception must be made considering position and quality, for Mauri this call up is probably nothing more than a reward for his impressive displays with Lazio.

The average age of the current Nazionale squad is 26, not bad for a team which used to be packed with 32 and 33-year-old veterans. It is indeed a step forward because these international experiences will help Prandelli and Italy to grow stronger little by little.

In defence, for instance, Leonardo Bonucci, 23, and 22-year-old Andrea Ranocchia are a guarantee for the future, and don't forget that Giorgio Chiellini, 26, will be one of the most experienced defenders in the game by 2014. When the likes of Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta were stepping in at Coverciano, many thought they wouldn't have been good enough to replace the old legends, but ultimately they did. Now the new Azzurri defenders have to prove they have what it takes and there is a good feeling they will.

In midfield, Italy are keeping pretty mature and players like Alberto Aquilani and Riccardo Montolivo really need to make an effort to live up to expectations. But Prandelli is right to count on their contribution, along with the experience and character of Daniele De Rossi. Up front, it gets even better because Giuseppe Rossi, Alessandro Matri and Giampaolo Pazzini are exciting options for the present and the future.

Prandelli has kept the blocco Juventus seeing as the Bianconeri are represented by five players - this is clearly the result of their project to invest on Italian players – but has also given everybody else a chance. Congratulations to Palermo who are the second most represent team, alongside Inter, with three players. Had injuries not struck down Cesare Bovo and Federico Balzaretti, the Rosanero would have had five.

With his call ups, Prandelli covered almost the entire Serie A with the likes of Genoa, Bologna, Cagliari, Napoli, Parma, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Milan who all have one player each in Azzurro. This is a factor which should not be underestimated considering that for years the Nazionale was viewed as an 'elite club' for big teams' players. Prandelli is finally making the Azzurri the people's team while he tries to keep the squad as young and competitive as possible. A nice project, at long last.

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