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Tuesday March 19 2013
Will Prandelli find Italy answers?

Italy are preparing for games against Brazil and Malta. David Swan ponders what is going through the mind of boss Cesare Prandelli

The latest Italy squad, for the games against Brazil and Malta, has thrown up a new right-wing candidate. Step forward Alessio Cerci, the newest player to be thrown into Italy’s 4-3-3 as Cesare Prandelli frantically seeks a right-sided option with quality to complete the system he has been trying for so long to implement.

Cerci has been frustrating Serie A viewers for many years – games where he shows flashes of quality, followed by seven or eight where he does nothing, have been a common occurrence since 2010. It is highly debatable whether he is good enough for this level – there is a reason that there was not a long queue of suitors from the top half of the table looking to take him from Fiorentina – but at this point Prandelli is short of options and a little desperate.

Even if something bizarre happens and Cerci turns out to be the perfect man, there are deeper problems than trying to find a player who isn’t a scrub to play on the right. The continued inability to control games in midfield with this system is a problem against good sides – Italy’s strongest midfield, in terms of controlling a game, of Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo struggled against the young and relatively inexperienced Dutch trio in last month’s friendly draw with Holland.

Having grown so used to having essentially four central midfielders wandering around in the middle, it is almost as if they are struggling to adapt to just the three of them, even though they all play, or have played, in three man midfields domestically.

Claudio Marchisio’s return – he was injured for the Holland game – gives Prandelli a choice to make. He will probably play in one of the two games, if not both, meaning Montolivo will make way, which will not help Italy’s cause in terms of match control.

As consistently good as he has been for Juventus, he has been consistently average for Italy. A total of 31 largely anonymous appearances for the Azzurri do not reflect his true value, and Italy could do with the real Marchisio turning up at some point between now and the World Cup next year. He may not have Montolivo’s ability to aid the dictation of a match, but he offers a penetration that nobody else in the squad does, unless De Rossi morphs into the 2006-07 version of the player that Marcello Lippi first capped.

If 4-3-3 is what Prandelli wants the side to be comfortable with heading to Brazil in 2014, as appears to be the case, he won’t find it as easy to get into the XI if he continues to play the way he does for Italy, not with Montolivo making a strong case at Milan this season, and not when there are one or two young midfielders who look like they can make the grade.

The games also represent a chance for Mattia De Sciglio after he received his first call-up since the August friendly with England. Ignazio Abate and Christian Maggio were also convened, which suggests the Milan youngster has been summoned as a left-back, a position that Adriano Galliani claimed was his best on Sunday.

There is a bit of a flux at left-back for Italy right now. Domenico Criscito, who would normally be first-choice and who has performed well thus far, is out with cruciate ligament damage. Davide Santon had a mixed game against Holland, and combined with a loss of form for Newcastle means he was not called. Federico Balzaretti has passed 30, which is never a good thing with Prandelli’s approach to call-ups – Manuel Pasqual a case in point – and his place in Roma’s team has not been completely secure since his injury at the end of January, with Marquinho butting in on Roma’s left side.

The indecision is best summed by the arrival of Luca Antonelli, a player that has been capped before but has had a string of better options in front of him for the best part of three years. That has not changed – but this time he is the beneficiary of the first-choice being injured and the young option not playing very well.

It nevertheless allows De Sciglio a chance to take the test of international football. He has coped pretty well playing left-back at club level, and although his experience at Champions League level in the role is limited, he looks like someone who could put the left-back issue to bed for the next 15 years. The comparisons with a certain 126-capped Italian grow ever larger.

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Have your say...
I think italy should stick with what works and use the 3-5-2 formation.barzagli, chiellini and bonucci have great chemisttry and are excellent for juve the past two years. Abate and de sciglio could be used as wingbacks and we could play el sharaawy with balo. We should also give giovinco a chance he has great talent
on the 4th May, 2013 at 7:47pm
My 4-3-1-2, 23-men squad will be:

Buffon, Sirigu, Viviano

Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito
De Sciglio, Ranocchia, Ogbonna, Santon

Pirlo, Verratti

De Rossi, Montolivo, Marchisio
Poli, Aquilani, Florenzi

Balotelli, Cassano
Destro, El Shaarawy
on the 3rd April, 2013 at 4:05pm
4-3-3 suits teams known for culturing wingers, eg Netherlands, Portugal. Prandelli shouldnt waste time experimenting on tactics that is alien. 3-5-2 is sound as the 2 fullbacks are wingbacks. These guys are flank outlets for a 3-3-2 core, giving width in all areas. Drawbacks are that these 2 guys have too much burden and will be susceptible to opponents fast counter attacks if they are caught out. For best effect, start with a 4-3-1-2 to go on the offensive, and 3-5-2 to protect a lead.
on the 29th March, 2013 at 11:13am
Find that 4-3-1-2 suits the Azzurri's style, direct play down the centre of midfield enforced by both marauding fullbacks to cover the flanks for wide play. 4-3-1-2 also forces oppositions out wide and will thereafter employ side overload. Hence Italy can penetrate down the middle. Know there isnt really a classic trequartista since Totti. But Giovinco should fill that role just fine if one dont stereotype his physicality. In fact his low centre of gravity allows nippy darts for quick interplay.
on the 29th March, 2013 at 7:29am
I have to admit Prandelli's job must be very hard considering all those emerging talents in Italy right now. All the players who played against Brasil did very well. So Prandelli made some perfect choices. Italy was amazing! There was only one player who can't be in that team but Prandelli likes to make him play.He is really not worth it. If you guys pay attention, you will realize Italy's weakness is always on Maggio's side. He's always the open door to get into our defense wall.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 8:53pm
In general our performance against brazil was great. We should have easily won the game, cesar made at least 6 great saves and we had at least 5 other near misses. Disappointed with brazil goals, i think it was monty that lost fred on 1st goal, 2nd goal de sciglio lost the ball unluckily they broke and scored. To be 2 down at halftime was a joke. We need to cut these goals out, we seem to be getting caught out a lot.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 6:48am
@daniel g
Thank u for the info. I appreciate it.
But I still think that icardi is the best goal scorer with creativity in the whole world next messi. Vucinic has a good shot tho. And he's hairy lol.
on the 21st March, 2013 at 6:02pm
I definitly think they should stick with the 3 4 3 it worked wonders in the Euro and I dont see many teams that have an answer for it.
on the 21st March, 2013 at 3:02pm
Drapes, you are screwing around, surely? But in case you are not; Vucinic was born & raised in Montengro. I believe that he has an Italian passport, through residency. He has already played for the country of his birth & is therefore ineligible to play for Italy. Icardi is Argentinian. He could play for Italy because of his ancestry, but has decided to play for the South American country. I hope that this clarifies matters for you!
on the 21st March, 2013 at 9:59am
@viktor,Jon,and bonaventuragfsutaeedea what ever ur name is
They r so Italian! they play in the ITALIAN league for ITALIAN teams in ITALY so they r Italian
Correct me if I'm wrong tho but I want proof
on the 20th March, 2013 at 9:31pm
Thanks for the link anonymous-you should use your name btw. I remember Prandelli saying this. I still find it a little contradictory though. I understand that he wants to blood the young forwards, but why isn't he doing the same with Pirlo & De Rossi. In the first game against Malta, he had a great opportunity to field the likes of Verratti & Florenzi. Instead, he played Pirlo; who at that time was playing during a hectic Juve schedule. He risks burning Pirlo out.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 7:54pm
Strummerman you make a good comparison. Zidane was incredible against Brazil in 2006. Totti could do a great job for us next year. He is outstanding at linking up the play, & providing composure, creativity + penetration in the final 3rd. It will be hot & humid in Brazil, so keeping the ball will be crucial. Baggio could have done a similar job for us back in 2002, but the pragmatic Trap played the cautious game.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 7:42pm
Strummerman-Marchisio plays as a box to box midfielder. I would like to see him make forward runs for Italy, like he does for Juve. He is a very good finisher. In some ways, he reminds me of a more mobile version of Lampard. I still feel that you are being a little harsh on Monty. First thing, the team that faced Barca wasn't young-only SES & Niang were under 25. He is the teams creator, but when teammates make poor runs, or if their first touch is no good, then what you do?!
on the 20th March, 2013 at 7:32pm
Daniel- Marchisio did get that goal against Serbia, what I meant is not sure if Marchisio is there for offensive or defensive purposes. As for Montolivo, I agree played well in Euros but he didn't play well against Barcelona. He is supposed to lead with a young Milan team. Everytime I think of Totti I think of Zidane in 2006 who rejoined the French team to lead them to the final.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 4:48pm
Daniel - Prandelli said that he was looking at younger options, but Cassano could be like Di Natale. There was a blog about Cassano-Italy on this site which may interest you. http://www.football-italia.net/24689/end-cassano
on the 20th March, 2013 at 4:16pm
Maldini's Heir, I was just putting the heart theory out there, I don't necessarily think that this is the reason; although he did put in a hell of a shift against Spurs, so he could do with a breather. Prandelli hasn't selected him since the euro's, so did something happen between them last summer?! Cassano's views on homosexuals perhaps? This probably wouldn't have sat well with Prandelli, given his liberal stance He could of course call up Cassano at the last minute, like he did with Di Natale
on the 20th March, 2013 at 4:05pm
@drapes

Hahah... Yes let's get the two most overrated striker we have that are not even Italians and have em play for us. Dude... Silence is gold
on the 20th March, 2013 at 2:50pm
I want to see some of the established players and certainties for Italy who we all ready know will be there in 2014 no matter what, be left out of the next squad selections in a couple months. There already proven themselves there a lock in ,so I would like to see a nice chunk of fresh faces come next time squad selections. Danny G I agree people are already making SES sound like a lock in,has talent but the form has not been good as of late and could possibly be someone who drifts down the road
on the 20th March, 2013 at 2:24pm
TOTTI! Simply the BEST! My all time favorite. Of course he has the whole package and without a doubt would make this team a lot better, but he already wrote his legacy with Italy and accomplished the ultimate goal so he has nothing to prove. Not at all saying I would have a problem with it if he got called up, absolutely not.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:59pm
@ Annonymous I like the look of your team! That's along the lines of what I was proposing but I forgot Cassano! I saw someone mention about Cassano's heart but given the number of games he's playing for Inter that can't be the reason Prandelli is not picking him. Does anyone know the reason? Malta is still a qualfier surely we should be putting out our strongest team?
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:55pm
If Prandelli don't change his tactical and technical ways and make some squad changes we will be in big trouble in the confeds cup which can see him on his way out of international duties. Cant stand Conte, don't like Juve at all but respect that he is a great coach and I believe he would be a great fit for Nazionale should Prando be axed. Im frustrated the team is not were it should be at this time and tomorrow could easily be a frustrating game to watch.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:50pm
There has been players and currently are players who excel at club level but struggle to excel at international level. Sure its strange but it happens. This needs to recognized on a way more serious level then what it is. It puts a plug on are chemistry and progression especially with WC2014 coming up. I wanted Prando to take charge after Lippi and I feel like he can still get the job done but he needs to open his eyes and expand his mind and my god just do the right thing for La Nazionale.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 1:34pm
Why not accept that the right side is going to be weaker and make it more defensive.
---------------Buffon
-----Barzagli--Bonucci--Chiellini
Abate---------------------------
-----De Rossi---Pirlo--Marchisio
--------------------------------SES
--------Ballotelli--Cassanno
on the 20th March, 2013 at 12:40pm
Drapes... Seriously mate do you take any medication? That comment was nuts.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 12:40pm
@Drapes
Vucinic & Icardi are not even Italian, FYI.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 12:26pm
@ mikesaba considering that Allegri cannot even decide what team/formation to play with his club side I don't think he'd make a good international coach. Italy need Conte and as a Milan fan I'd be glad to see him leave Juve before he does as he is threatening to do and becomes Serie A's answer to Alex Ferguson damn it!
on the 20th March, 2013 at 12:04pm
Strummeman, your're right in that Marchisio hasn't yet found his feet at International level. He always puts in a shift, but I cannot remember him making a telling contribution, be it a goal or assist. Montolivo has been inconsistent for Italy, but he was one of the better players in the latter stages of Euro 2012. He wasn't that bad vs Barca. Along with Abate & Abbiati he was one of Milan's better performers on the night. He actually completed some passes, unlike his team mates.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 9:43am
Sam, Cassano is our most talented player, (along with Totti & Pirlo), but we already know what he can do. Prandelli will call him up next year,(& maybe for the confed cup). I just think that Prandelli is being cautious because of Antonio's heart. During the extra time against Spurs, I was worried about his health because he put so much into that game. Another reason for his exclusion, this time, could be that his 2nd son has just been born.
on the 20th March, 2013 at 9:34am
I really do hope either Allegri or Montella to be the next head coach; both of them have quality which does not exist in Prandelli! Conte is an option as well, but I would like him to stay in Juventus to do the WONDERS just like Sir Alex work with Man U.
Bravo them 3, they are the next generation to Capello, Sachi & Trapatoni... Forget about Lippi I wish him to stay in China for the rest of his life!
on the 20th March, 2013 at 9:19am
NO! I am afraid not, Prandelli will not find Italy answers as he is not an Azzurri material / coach! Italy will qualify for WC '14 but will hardly impress through out the tournament! simple one fact is; after 2 and half years he failed to adjust to one system and cannot figure out who to manage in difficult times during the game! the euro final, the friendly against Holland and France proves that! Plus he is soft coach, Azzurri needs tough coach to get the best out of players!
on the 20th March, 2013 at 9:04am

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