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Wednesday November 13 2013
Winging it with Cerci

With the countdown to Brazil on, Luca Cetta asks if Alessio Cerci should be considered for an Azzurri starting position.

Watching Alessio Cerci play, it echoes back to the time Gianluigi Lentini donned the famed Granata shirt. Lentini was the promising star whose career stalled following a world-record transfer move to Milan, in part thanks to a horrific car crash.

Cerci, on the other hand, moved to Turin to get his career back on track. Likened to Thierry Henry in his youth, Cerci hasn’t come close to emulating the Frenchman. After frustrating top flight spells with first club Roma and then Fiorentina – he calls them ‘wasted years’ – he is now making a mark at Torino.

Cerci’s first season with Toro saw him net eight times – second only to Rolando Bianchi – and lay off many more for his teammates. Reunited with Giampiero Ventura – who coached him in Serie B with Pisa – Cerci flourished, so much so his contributions were recognised by Cesare Prandelli. Making his Azzurri debut against Brazil earlier this year was what Cerci called the first achievement he had laid out following his Torino switch ticked off.

Cerci made one appearance at the Confederations Cup and has only strengthened his Azzurri claims since. He’s already equalled last season’s goal tally in just 12 matches. That includes the strike to end Roma’s historic streak. It’s come as Ventura’s switched from his more traditional attacking 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2, starting the 25-year-old in attack. “I am a winger, but I can also play as a striker,” Cerci noted in September.

Since Euro 2012 Prandelli has tinkered with various formations. He says leading up to the Germany and Nigeria friendlies there is a precise idea in mind, which is two strikers. But he’s also looking at other options, as recent games have shown. One system that’s come along in fits and spurts is the trident attack. Such a formation would put Cerci on the radar. Assuming Mario Balotelli is the central striker, Giuseppe Rossi and Lorenzo Insigne would battle for the left-sided role, leaving the opposite flank up for grabs.

When fielded out wide this term it’s generally on the right, where Cerci can cut in on his left foot. Antonio Candreva has been favoured by Prandelli for this role and offers higher workrate, but Cerci presents natural width and greater ability on the ball, plus creates an explosive front trio. Not to mention with the presence of Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio behind in midfield, Italy have an energetic engine room. If they need something going forward, Cerci would be the preferable choice.

The Torino man just wants a chance, no matter where. “Now I want to prove my worth, it doesn’t matter what role I will be used in.”

Is he good enough for a starting role at international level? His Coach thinks he can get there. “Alessio is on the right path,” said Ventura earlier this year. “Now it’s up to him to decide – if he carries on with the hard work he’s been doing then he can become a player capable of playing at the European level. Otherwise he risks losing himself again.” On the flipside, he’s not been tested in Europe like his teammates, nor has much experience at the highest level.

Nonetheless, Cerci continues to improve. Given his start to 2013-14, he offers another option in a two-man attack, but admittedly faces stiffer competition for a starting role with the wealth of attacking talent available to Prandelli at present.

Having steered himself down the right path, Cerci is in a position to put pressure on Prandelli. He is most likely on the shortlist of candidates to cross the Atlantic Ocean next June. Should he continue his fantastic opening to the season in Turin then it presents Prandelli a welcome headache come the World Cup.

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Have your say...
Cerci would be a great January signing for Juventus. There seems to be interest and I would love to add him to the squad. He is inconsistent at the moment, but I believe Conte is the man to turn him into a real force.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 8:30pm
Cerci is a great player, however i feel he will be most effetive coming off the bench given the options Italy already have up front(Balo/Rossi) and midfield (Montolivo/Pirlo/De Rossi/ Marchisio). He's an impact player, the same as SES, and there is no doubting their quality.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 9:20am
Prandelli in these up and coming friendlies is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. With what he has available tonight's line up is pretty much our strongest line up and he wants to see how we fare against one of the top teams in the world. Fair enough, however, he should experiment a bit and would learn alot more if the team looked like something a bit like this for example...

4-3-1-2/4-2-3-1

Buffon

Maggio
Barzagli
Bonucci
Criscito

Florenzi
T. Motta
Marchisio

Verratti

Balotelli
Cerci
on the 15th November, 2013 at 2:58pm
Lorenzo, Verratti is carrying a knock & isn't in the squad. As for your second point, I am in complete agreement with you. It is if CP is determined to choose out-of-form players. What kind of message does this send out to the in-form players. If I was Insigne, Cerci, Florenzi, I would be very disillusioned right now. There are echo's of Lippi's 2010 error's in CP's decision-making atm.
on the 15th November, 2013 at 2:25pm
It is a disgrace that a player like Osvaldo is even allowed to wear the Azzuri shirt and start in a game against Germany.
on the 15th November, 2013 at 12:52pm
Can anyone tell me why Veratti was not chosen. Is it just me or does this starting XI make little to no sense?
on the 15th November, 2013 at 5:30am
These two upcoming games for Italy are not going to be good. Which should be no surprise. Germany will beat us and we will struggle to get a result against Nigeria. There's a handful of trash in this squad that needs to go. Prandelli should have called up at least 5 new players but over and over again he continues to call these players who we all know arnt deserving I don't get it. Parolo did deserve a call but in my opinion he will be another waste.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 9:07pm
Why is SES even being considered? When did he last play or even score? There are better strikers than him and who play regularly.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 9:03pm
Cerci can give us good pace in the later stages of games which is very important as for starting on a consistent basis I don't think it would work, but why he is not starting tomorrow is just another example of Prandelli's dumb witted tactics If he wants cerci to get ready and make a statement for his name in Brazil put him in a friendly against Germany,Commonsense. Rather him than marchisio who has had plenty of chances to prove his worth and I've seen nothing special out of him.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 8:51pm
@Adam, I'm guessing you're not a fan of Milan? I'm a very big Milan fan and guess what? I have no illusions of them making the Champions League for next year. I'm pretty sure most Milan fans realize this now. So no, we don't think we're going to make it next year despite what you may think. Good day.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 8:09pm
@ mo with his desired line up...
Barzagli ( that is just one example, I am sure there are plenty of players) with his stand-out performance doesn't get a spot in any of your line up, but Destro is present in any scenario? Why? because his Momma had told him when he was young that he will grow into a handsome man?
I don't know why some people comment on soccer forums or suggests line-ups
on the 14th November, 2013 at 7:53pm
Missing Rossi is a big blow. No Cassano either. Also Chiellini out injured. I think Germany will beat us. Bonucci and Barzagli aren't going to be able to stop Muller, Gotze and Ozil. And Germany missing Gomez and Klose. They are some team. A draw would be a great result for us. Rossi and Cassano where great together for Italy in the past. Against Nigeria cesare should play Sirigu, give him 90 minutes to show what he can do. Still cant understand why Quags isn't called he is top draw.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 7:10pm
Mo...is you crazy?

No Pirlo in either team but Poli and Cigarini...and Destro up front...I see what you're doing and I say...eh.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 5:55pm
It will always surprise/disappoint me to read the calibre of comments left on these articles - it's not so much the inane content as the lack of footballing knowledge and appreciation of Gli Azzurri (there's the lesson for Pinturicchio07) Cerci is worth observing in the upcoming friendlies, i prefer him to Diamanti... it's great to see Rossi back and Insigne & SES are exciting prospects, Balotelli can be our talisman in the right circumstances but it never hurts to see who else can step up.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 3:46pm
@Pinturicchio07 - "do you guys even know what Gli Nazionale stands for..." I think you need the lesson. ITalian speakers will be having a great laugh at that sentence.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 1:04pm
On his day, Cerci is an excellent & exciting player to watch. There are still issues with work-rate, consistency, & his tendency to go awol during games. That said, he has taken his game to another level this season & has been a revelation as a striker. I would definitely have him in the squad. He is probably our fastest forward, & this (along with his other skills), could be very effective against tired legs in the harsh conditions of Brazil. He could be our super-sub.
on the 14th November, 2013 at 12:49pm
In what position would CP band him in? Will he be one of the 5 strikers tradtionally brought to tournaments or one of what I work out as 7 midfielders? If a striker forget about bringing Totti, Cassano or Di Natale (Berardi?) There won't be room because in CPs eyes Rossi, Insigne, Balotelli & Osvaldo are on the plane. If a midfielder, who would you take out to accommodate him? Considering the likes of Giaccherini,Candreva and Diamanti have had a more positive impact internationally recently?
on the 14th November, 2013 at 8:31am
it's been years since i've been happy with italy's attack. cerci needs to get some run in remaining friendlies and be considered an option, his league form has deserved it. balotelli is a guaranteed, i honestly love what candreva does and he should be safe, and rossi. then three more from el sharaawy, cerci, insigne, giovinco, berardi (why not), quagliarella (no other italian forward can have a random moment of brilliance like he can), totti & di natale (if they are not too old) etc many options
on the 14th November, 2013 at 6:19am
What is with these annoying journalists? One player temporarily hits form and all of a sudden he is "Azzurri starter" material? Giovinco scored the winning goal v/s Milan as a sub and there was an article here about how he had "turned a page" and was "ready to deliver". Seriously, do you guys even know what Gli Nazionale stands for, or does only shoddy, half-a**ed journalism work today? Lest anyone forgets, Italy once boasted of Del Piero + Totti + Viero + Montella + Inzaghi in the same team!!
on the 14th November, 2013 at 4:39am
Cerci's certainly in my desired 2014 squad:

4-3-3
Buffon, Sirigu, Perin
Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito
De Sciglio, Ranocchia, Ogbonna, Santon
De Rossi, Cigarini, Marchisio
Poli, Verratti, Florenzi
Cerci, Balotelli, Insigne
Candreva, Destro, El Shaarawy


4-3-1-2
Buffon, Sirigu, Perin
Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito
De Sciglio, Ranocchia, Ogbonna, Santon
Candreva, De Rossi, Marchisio
Cerci, Poli, Florenzi
Cigarini
Verratti
Balotelli, Insigne
Destro, El Shaarawy
on the 14th November, 2013 at 2:37am
Frankly I didn't like Cerci last year, seemed to be a grade below others. However, this year his pace and left foot has ran defences ragged. He reminds me of Bruno Conti he could be real good for the Azzurri who sometimes lack pace
on the 13th November, 2013 at 10:50pm
Great article. I agree that if Cerci continues to preform in this way he should be considered for the starting 11. Italy really lack some offensive spark for me right now. Balotelli cannot be relied on for all offensive. The midfield is strong, but the Azzurri need someone who can take on defenders and beat them with skill and pace. Cerci seems to fit this bill right now very well. 8 goals and 3 assists is a great start and I hope he can continue this way.
on the 13th November, 2013 at 9:10pm
can someone please explain to me how ovsvaldo is on this team???? He has ONE goal this year. How can he be picked over Cassano??
on the 13th November, 2013 at 5:06pm
The question should be about whether or not Cerci should make the final squad. This is no slight on him or his talent, but asking about him starting is pretty ridiculous. Unfortunately for Italy, Prandelli is not always the best decision maker. I love him, but his greatness comes in his ability to create something deep and substantial, sustaining.
on the 13th November, 2013 at 4:18pm
I agree with Formica anonima, SES had half a good season last year.....wow.....I like you don't believe he will make the squad, he isn't as good as the others, of course Milan fans will defend him blah blah but they think they can get into champions league with their squad lol,
on the 13th November, 2013 at 4:03pm
He's great but we all know that Italy doesn't have a chance unless it's Totti-Ballotelli-Rossi trident.He Cerci gets into the lineup if Totti plays because Totti won't play with Lazio Candreva. My lineup for 2014 Totti -Balo-Rossi trident with Cerci-Pirlo-DeRossi in Mid and Maggio-Astori-Chiellini-Criscito in the back
on the 13th November, 2013 at 3:12pm
Is it too early to suggest Berardi could be an option. If he continues to score he could be a wild card. Italy do seem to have a lot of options going forward now, it's going to be tough to fit everyone in. I think if everyone is fit Balo, Rossi, Insigne have to go. Then 3 or 4 of Cerci/El Shaarawy/Candreva/Florenzi/Berardi/Osvaldo/Gabialdini to join them
on the 13th November, 2013 at 2:42pm
Some people still seem to think of El Shaarawy as a possible starter next summer but I can't be the only one who thinks that there's a real chance he won't even make the squad. Unless he manages to find a place in the Milan first XI or he goes on loan and has a similar run to the start of last season then I wouldn't bring him to Brazil.
on the 13th November, 2013 at 1:25pm
From what I've seen of Cerci this season I've been very impressed, he offers something different. Wide right has long been a problem position for Italy and he would be my choice for games where the focus is on attack (4-3-3 with Balo and Rossi/El Shaaraway/Insigne). Against a Brazil or Spain I'd be more tempted to go 3-5-2 or 4-2-3-1 with more defence-minded wide men. He should definitely be on that plane though.
on the 13th November, 2013 at 12:24pm
For those who don't rate this guy...they don't know football, Pure pace and great control when moving the ball something that Italy need in the team, He should start wide of a front 3, or at least that gives Italy the option. Perhaps Juventus need something like this in their team.
on the 13th November, 2013 at 10:19am

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