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Friday June 7 2013
Italy poor in Prague

Italy stuttered to a goalless draw with the Czech Republic, so Susy Campanale cast her eye over the match.

Well, that was poor. Not a single genuine shot on target, while the Czech Republic were left cursing the woodwork, Gigi Buffon’s cat-like reflexes and the fact Tomas Rosicky can’t aim. Mario Balotelli got himself sent off and took it out on the perspex wall of the Italy dugout, suggesting a career in boxing would suit him if the football falls apart. In other words, a typical Italy performance in June.

The Azzurri never raise their game at this stage of the season, we all know it, so to grab a point in the circumstances was excellent news. The Czechs were sharper, smarter and clearly more up for the match from start to finish, so we have to thank Buffon for this draw. Nobody else in the team made the slightest impact.

What have we learned from this World Cup qualifier? Giorgio Chiellini is a wonderful centre-back, but no longer a great left-back. Those days are behind him and we should shelve Leonardo Bonucci, perhaps giving the versatile Mattia De Sciglio a go down the left. Riccardo Montolivo has tried to explain in every conceivable way that he doesn’t like playing as a trequartista, but Cesare Prandelli persists in using him behind the strikers. Stephan El Shaarawy is tired, low on confidence and still hasn’t worked out how to play alongside Balotelli effectively.

I expect many blogs and articles on why the red card proves Balotelli is a loose cannon who cannot be trusted representing the Azzurri jersey. All hyperbole fuelled by his reputation. This was his first dismissal in over a year in all competition and watching the game was extremely harsh. The yellow card for a tackle from behind was perfectly acceptable, but the second just three minutes later for a mid-air clash with Gebre Selassie was unnecessary. His performance up to that point had been poor, but no worse than any of his teammates on the night. His only real error was failing to pass to an unmarked Montolivo, trying instead to turn between two defenders and get a shot away.

We must stop expecting Balotelli to turn on the style and bag a brace in every single game. He is already vastly more consistent than he was and let’s not forget both he and El Shaarawy are young enough to be in the European Under-21 Championships right now. Here’s hoping the dismissal and bruise on his fist from punching the wall will help Mario learn to control his frustration a little better, while Italy can relish the fact they still earned a point despite a dismal performance. No harm done, onwards and upwards.

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Have your say...
Sacking Prandelli is rash and unneeded. He is still an excellent manager, and these results are not his fault. Remember that Italian teams always do the bare minimum, and rarely do well in friendly's and even qualifying. We will qualify for the World Cup, we will get out of the group, and depending on Buffon and Pirlo's fitness, we will go far. As far as the CC goes, I'm not sure. I don't think that Prandelli really cares about it all that much; I think he'll just use it to test out new players.
on the 12th June, 2013 at 9:01pm
Sack Prandelli after a draw in the CC?
Really?

How many times we see big clubs knocked out pretty embarrassingly in The Coppa by some half-pro corner-of-the-street auto-mechanics teams?

If sacking is the answer then clubs would change coaches more frequent then their underwear ...
on the 12th June, 2013 at 4:35pm
@Sam De Martino

Aren't you a little harsh on CP & his selections?
After all the Confederations cup is just a tool to prepare for the WC nothing more. and let's not kid our selves, there is no available untapped potential talent that is sitting in Italy that could improve the way Italy plays or the results Italy is getting. The bulk of these players reached the final at the Euro's, perhaps thats where they peaked maybe they will peak at the next WC. Point is some players are at the U21, others are injured or suspended by CP which means at least 20% of the current squad will change come WC. but i do agree with the tactical tinkering which is starting to worry me.
on the 12th June, 2013 at 12:18pm
Italy 2 - 2 Haiti, seriously? Prandelli needs the sack! Italy has immense quality just a poor manager.
on the 12th June, 2013 at 10:44am
Beyond pathetic, same crap. Haiti my god. Prandelli with the usual excuses, its the same for everyteam. Hes pathetic. His tactics and the players he picks are all wrong. Astori, gila, giovinco etc. With those players we are going nowhere. We have so much talent yet prandelli picks these kinds of medicore players. SACK HIM.
on the 11th June, 2013 at 8:58pm
Will scrap out a 2-0 draw against Haiti tonight it won't be pretty but watch the clear wastes prandelli fields today.
on the 11th June, 2013 at 2:04pm
Cheers Zoli! Initially I had mixed feelings on this potential deal, but now I fully agree with you. SES is only 20 and will only get better. If Milan sold him it could start a bad trend. SES is a shining light of hope to all young Italians-work hard and you will be rewarded & given a chance,(unless you play under Mazzarri aka the anti-youth). Interesting line-up for tonight's game, I quite like it.
on the 11th June, 2013 at 9:12am
(4-3-1-2)

Buffon
(Sirigu, Marchetti)

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

De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo
(Poli, Verratti, Marchisio)

Giovinco
(Aquilani)

Balotelli, Cassano
(Destro, El Shaarawy)

(4-3-3)

Buffon
(Sirigu, Marchetti)

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

De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo
(Poli, Verratti, Aquilani)

Cassano, Balotelli, El Shaarawy
(Giovinco, Destro, Marchisio)
on the 11th June, 2013 at 2:37am
Daniel G

Just answering the SES part of your three-prong question on whether to sell or not : definitely not. Selling him would improve the books but damage the long-term plan Milan chose.
Kinda like treating the symptom and not the cause.
Yes, he had his issues in the second part of the season but we have to look back at all of his contributions and not single out a bad spell, if we can call it that way at all (?)
Just my two ¢s.

Cheers :)
on the 10th June, 2013 at 3:10pm
@Anonymous

Because gio spend all this time moaning about none excisting penalties? Even ses has a goals draught he's work rate is x2 normal forwards he's contribution is expetional. Dont you worry hes goala will arive soon. 19 goals last season. You dont score that pn pure luck. Regarding monti he's a great player and is still improving. I'm curious. Smells like Juve fan from a mile? Balo, ses, osvaldo, cassano, Rossi, THEN gio.
on the 10th June, 2013 at 1:20pm
After the World Cup with the probability of Pirlo and maybe even De Rossi, Barzagli and even Buffon going. I would like the team to look something like this based on a 4-3-3

Sirigu/Marchetti

Abate/Santon
Ranocchia/Bonucci
Chiellini/Ogbonna
De Sceglio/Criscito

Florenzi/Poli
Veratti/Bassa
Marchisio/Marrone

Insigne/Mastour
Balottelli/Immobile/Gabbiadini
El Shaarway/Giovinco
on the 10th June, 2013 at 12:02pm
Italy were awful in this encounter, thank God for Buffon. These players and Prandelli should take note from what Mangia and his U21 starlets are doing, now that is how you play football!

I can't wait for those players to make the step up to the senior team come September.

I suppose the confederations Cup will confirm the deadwood in the squad and free up room for the next generation for Brazil 2014.
on the 10th June, 2013 at 11:48am
Bring back Totti for the whole.
Perhaps Saponara can play in that position too...but he is not going to be as good as Totti.
on the 10th June, 2013 at 10:37am
Hi all, great suggestions from everyone. italy didnt concentrate and looked tensed. They should study what they did right in euro 2012 and build world cup plans. Italy need more pace which will come from a some U21 guys. They need strong pacy striker like mario to pressure on opposition. Destro? Giuseppe Rossi? Cassano and di natle may be old but are smart thinkers, great subs. Diamanti and motta must play. De rossi is great in defensive MF holding role. Pirlo needs breaks from small games
on the 9th June, 2013 at 7:45pm
The only brilliance from the Azzurri (apart from Buffon's performance) was Giovinco's move between 3 Czech players to trigger a good counter. El Shaarawy fails to take on any player and I can't understand why he's preferred to Gio? Same for Montolivo. He slows down play and his passing was terrible throughout.
on the 9th June, 2013 at 4:36pm
Good points re: timing, Montolivo and Chiellini. Honestly, why not let Pirlo play from the bench and start Montolivo? Not b/c Montolivo is better but because at his age, Pirlo is wearing down. WC next year will be his third summer tournament in three years,. Confederations Cup is a tune-up and time to experiment. If we want a deep-playmaker/trequartista combo, play Montolivo as the regista and Diamanti as the trequartista. Montolivo is also not the defensive liability that Pirlo is. Play two of de Rossi/Marchisio/Aquilani as the others in MF.
on the 9th June, 2013 at 3:08pm
Azzurri vs Azzurrini, who would win? The youngsters would have a great chance as they play with greater urgency, imagination, creativity & pace. If we were to do a team of the week drawn from the two teams, it would be the Azzurrini, but with Buffon in goal. A dream of mine would be to see Montella coaching these exciting youngsters after 2014. The amazing thing is that there are even more amazing players coming through behind this batch: Mastour, Tassi, Berardi, Bessa, Masi etc.
on the 9th June, 2013 at 11:07am
Playing 352 is the key if only prandelli could see it. Agree that juve should snap monaco s hand off, if they want to pay 30m let them. Great businee. He is very overated. Insigne should be ok for semi which is a huge relief. Hopefully come september he will replace giovinco permantly.
on the 9th June, 2013 at 5:56am
What a performance by the Italian young guns. You won't see a better team goal all year than the opener. As a Juventus trifosi I was delighted to see the three Bianconeri owned players involved, especially Gabbiadini's who's goals which were magnificent. The 2016 World Cup side should be amazing, as long as Prandelli isn't in charge. Why does he insist on playing the Juventus defensive trio in a back four? As a three they are virtually unbeatable, they are no-where near as secure in a four.
on the 9th June, 2013 at 5:23am
Mark F- I was a fan of Abate but he has not progressed as I hoped. You really think he has played well for Milan? Frankly De Sciglio seems to be a more competent back than Abate. The one major strength for Abate is his pace. We had fast runners before like Oddo but we need someone who makes the right decisions. As well I rarely see his crosses go anywhere productive. Finally did you see the Euro final against Spain. He was one of the few players who was was fresh and still he was terrible.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 10:56pm
addendum.....
On paper a 0-0 draw away to the Czechs is not that bad but we could have all but sown up qualification. Remaining fixtures could allow expermentation with a range of formations, tactics and players.
especially in Midfield.

Verrati and Florenzi are ready for the seniors.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 9:06pm
mr Liguori,

Thanks for your diece Lira.

Its no good banging on about 2012, its now that counts. Marchisio was nothing more than satisfactory at the euros, and poor decision making in formation and substitutions didnt help us in the final.

Prandelli was a breath of fresh air after Lippis idiocy but we are capable of more.

your welcome to disagree with me but please do not resort to calling a fellow fan an idiot on this otherwise friendly forum.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:56pm
4-0 to the under 21's as I write this. Great stuff! I just hope that Insigne's injury isn't as serious as it looked. Marrone will also be missed.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 8:02pm
Thanks for your reply Jack! I agree with you 100%. Re: Abate, his end product is poor. He has little composure and his decision making is poor. He has significant lapses in defence, eg, Militogate! I've watched him on a regular basis, since Leonardo converted him from a winger into a full back. Initially he did well, but over the past two seasons he has shown little improvement, & if anything has gone backwards. Di Sciglio is already a much better footballer, although not as pacey.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 7:58pm
@ Daniel Giambrone

I am a Juventus fan and I would sell Marchisio, especially as Monoco clearly have more money than sense and are willing to pay 30 million. At the top level of Champions League and International football he vanishes and doesn't have the technique or the strength to have any influence. His passing is terrible and he seems to miss impossible to miss chances, Lazio in the Coppa the prime example. Pogba is already on another level and must take Marchisio's place alongside Vidal.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 7:07pm
Again and again with the wrong formation.... A 352 is what is needed! Balotelli for all his talent is a liability, yes he has not been red carded for a long time but how many yellows has he collected and then misses games? Look at when he went to milan, he missed 3 games almost straight away and left Milan struggling to get to the CL! with a 352 he can use maggio effectively on the right as all napoli fans know and he would create a lot for the strikers. SES...when did he last score a goal?
on the 8th June, 2013 at 5:22pm
@mdivito81 i'm sure you have the stats to back that claim?? We must be talking about a different Abate then. The one that I've seen has been pretty good. I'll admit this past season wasn't his best but now you're talking about the past 3?? Don't think so lol..
on the 8th June, 2013 at 5:11pm
@mdivito81

And where do you get that bizar statistics from?not a fan of he's crossed either yet he's definitely not the worst. much rather have him then maggio
on the 8th June, 2013 at 5:07pm
Nothing new with their performance.Like I stated before Italy always make excuses..I'M TIRED,my shoes hurt,it's too hot or cold climate.Why are they the only ones to blame June month for this performance.Even Buffon(God live him)says that June is a bad month for them.That's the whole problem.Even when your best player and leader says it..Time to change that attutude and mentality!!Italy has always lacked the most imporant aspect.Mental strength and a winning mentality.CAN THE EXCUSES ALREADY!!!
on the 8th June, 2013 at 4:40pm
@marc F

Abate has the worst crossing to target ratio in the last 3 seasons compared to other full backs. His crosses don't connect. He's average at best in that dept.
on the 8th June, 2013 at 4:32pm

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