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Saturday November 16 2013
Azzurri gain from German test

Italy are still Germany’s bête noir, but Susy Campanale hopes Cesare Prandelli learned from this experiment.

Italy extended their unbeaten run against Germany to 18 years, though there were positives and negatives in this 1-1 stalemate. These friendlies to prepare for the World Cup are meant to allow experimentation and some results are already in: Daniel Osvaldo and Mario Balotelli do not make a strike partnership. They are too similar and trip up over each other, so the Southampton man should now only be seen as an alternative to SuperMario. Besides which, one trigger-happy red card addict is quite enough for this line-up. Similarly, Thiago Motta feels like an unnecessary addition if Andrea Pirlo is already playing. These experiments stood out more for what didn't work than what did, but that's still an important learning curve.

I would like to see Cesare Prandelli test out the 4-2-3-1 system, making the most of the many attacking midfielders we have at our disposal. If the Azzurri want to speed up the tempo, then having a crowd of players ready to push up and support Balotelli would be the ideal solution. Naturally, we are all waiting for Giuseppe Rossi to forge that pairing with Balo, but so far injuries have kept them apart. It is an intriguing idea to see the Fiorentina Capocannoniere threading passes through for the brawny Milan striker.

It was reassuring to see Domenico Criscito in the side after a year away from the blue jersey, as with him the left-back slot would seem assured. Ignazio Abate needs to work on his crosses, but has pace and stamina, while I hope Mattia De Sciglio will eventually shake off his Milan-induced injury crisis. Daniele De Rossi was sorely missed on Friday night and, even with Roma’s remarkable start to the season, people underestimate just what a key figure he is in Italy’s midfield.

Team selections aside, I remain confused by Italy’s mentality. We all know they don’t give their best in friendlies, having beaten only San Marino in a non-competitive game over the past two years, but even then Germany should’ve provided the spark needed. Prandelli continues to speak of humility and warns we “cannot think of dominating Germany.” Why not? Ahead of the 2006 World Cup, Marcello Lippi’s men took the game to the Germans on their own turf in another friendly, a sign of what was to come in the semi-final.

They started with the perfect mentality, putting them under pressure and pouring forward from the get-go. Once Mats Hummels rose to meet a corner and give his side the lead, the Azzurri lost their way completely. All confidence seemed to be sapped and it took a good 20 minutes before Abate’s goal allowed them to lift their heads. This mental fragility is a big warning sign going into the World Cup, where a team simply cannot afford to sulk for such long periods. It’s almost as if the squad is absorbing the personality traits of Balotelli and Osvaldo. Hopefully the return of Rossi and De Rossi will see the side take on their battling characters instead. 

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Have your say...
Italy are looking very good again, abate reminds me of how zambrotta used to play,all we need is the confidence and spirit of 2006 and we will and can beat anyone, FIFA should defiently change the rankings list something quite not right there
on the 24th November, 2013 at 12:19pm
@ cervinara,I agree osvaldo should stay out but also di natale too. We need to bring in younger blood in attack like, Insigne or Berardi,let's not forget Immobile and Rossi and Cerci to start on a 4/3/3 with one of the above mentioned. In mids Francesco Lodi is phenominal epecially with Pirlo,and Luca Cigarinni in midfield we would have the deadliest midfield in Brazil,mark my words. Montolivo as a sub,"that's it". Also Gabbiandini as support striker or a point striker.Balotelli slows the game.
on the 22nd November, 2013 at 7:34pm
to HM and AI some of your statements are complete carp end of
on the 21st November, 2013 at 6:02pm
For those who didnt watch the game: Pirlo didnt start and he is the key to the whole team synch. Mabe thats why ITA was a little off. Also, when Chiellini is out, the quality of our defence lowers a notch. On top of that De Rossi was out. I beleieve Chiellini, Pirlo and De Rossi are essential Azzurri starters without all 3 of them ITA still played well. Come WC all of them will start and hopefully Rossi will partner Balo up front.
Get rid of Osvaldo and bring in Di Natale!!!
on the 19th November, 2013 at 3:15am
The italian media are the reason we are doing so bad! when balo first arrived on the scene there was a faint chance hed have played form Ghana that was until the media gave him what he craved- they gave him the coverage and publicity he chases week in and week out! he drains the last bit of life this team has, they all play bad when hes on the pitch so it doesnt matter if monty/rossi/or anyone is on or off form as long as he is in the squad there is unrest and worry. leave him at home!
on the 18th November, 2013 at 9:27am
It all depends on who we're playing. If it's a game we're expected to dominate/win then we have to play a
4-2-3-1 with Rossi,Insigne, and cerci in behind Balo. Or a 4-3-3 with Rossi,Insigne and Balo. If it's a game that is going to be tight then play balo and rossi up front and bring in an extra midfielder
on the 17th November, 2013 at 6:49pm
i have no problem with rossi or players like him they are connected to italy through his parents. players like motta and osvaldo is where i start to lose patience, if a player makes us wait while they decide if their italian or argentian, brazilian or anything else then they are NOT italian!!! Before we start a whole racism row i also have no issue with our first black player liverani who has an italian parent
on the 17th November, 2013 at 6:41pm
Sure most supporters knew what was meant by non Italia's. Rossi has Italia Parents and yes MB was born in Palermo. I have no problem with players like Rossi and before him Perrotta born England Italian Parents but disliked players like Motta & Osvaldo playing for the Auzurri. Having said that though I don't agree with their selection, as long as they play with passion & wear the shirt with pride I will still support them whilst they play for the Auzurri. Fulham I'll be there tomorrow Forza Itali
on the 17th November, 2013 at 4:30pm
What I meant by non Italian is Motta and Osvaldo ..waste of space and pushing out players like Dinatale Cassano and Quags
Thank you for the update on Veratti ... I just think he is the heir apparent to Pirlo but Prandelli prob wouldn't play him anyway.
We have talent and flair lets show some swagger!!
on the 17th November, 2013 at 1:49pm
You do realize that Balo was born in Italy, grew up in Italy, went to Italian schools as a youth and has only played for Italy as long as he has played calcio, don't you? Absolutely ridiculous comment imo. The others, perhaps you have a point. In my mind the key is De Rossi, who makes the central defense stronger. On the left, there are a number of options - Chiellini, Balzaretti, De Sciglio, and Criscito are all capable. Or move Chiellini back to central defense.
on the 17th November, 2013 at 1:21pm
by non italians he means the players that have no connections to italy and that gained passports because they have been italy over a period of time. Motta, osvaldo and balotelli (but to name a few).
Rossi has italian parents (mum and dad)!!! osvaldo and motta waited for their respected nations to pick them once their nations said NO, we took them (think that says enough!!!). Balotelli apperently feels italian so thats enough to give him an italian top too!
on the 17th November, 2013 at 12:14pm
Lorenzo, Verratti is injured & isn't in the squad. By non-Italians I take it that you mean the players that were not born in Italy-Rossi, Motta, & Osvaldo? I believe that they all care about the shirt & I like Rossi & Motta. Osvaldo is ok, CP just doesn't seem able to get the best out of him, unlike Zeman. I wouldn't call up Osvaldo as I feel that there are other players deserving of a chance.
on the 17th November, 2013 at 10:36am
Azzurri for the first time that I have seen actually have attackers. No more sit back and wait, let's go forward type style. They have so many great players at their disposal, who which have have great talent. Personally.. three at the back is the best to watch italia play calcio. I only wonder how can Prandelli call up "certain" guys when their are players greater than the players he calls.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 11:10pm
Where's Veratti?
on the 16th November, 2013 at 10:38pm
Get rid of the non Italians. They could care less and they are non productive
on the 16th November, 2013 at 10:30pm
Better performance from Italy, they refused to sit behind the ball in a defensive shape for less time than their normal "suffering." I'm curious as to how their shape changed first during the inclusion of Candreva and then Cerci. When Candreva came on I could not tell if they had advanced Marchisio into a forward position and Montolivio moved to right center midfield creating a 4321 or whether it stayed 4312. Surely when Cerci was on with Candreva it had to be a 4321 or even 451 or im full of it!
on the 16th November, 2013 at 9:28pm
The fact Diamanti is still in the squad is pathetic guys old he takes outrages opportunities and tries to be the hero.Same with candreva not as bad but tries to do to much it's like dude your not messi or Ronaldo.We have a lot of those guys who need to start playing more tactical simple team style of football instead of trying to do get this individual flashes of brilliance.Giaccherini is so pathetic is a joke.Prandelli calls up new players and don't play them.Montolivo can't get more overrated.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 9:16pm
Prandelli has changed overtime, he used to be more open minded and now he has become more stubborn and his ego has got higher that's my opinion.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 8:42pm
Must have watched different game to some. Italy played well going forward but the way CP plays the Azzurri will always be vulnerable in defence. Place a defender on the post and the goal would not have been conceded. Abate leaped forward and looks like making the RB position his. De Rossi was missed but TM does look like a ideal replacement as DDR will pick up1 ban in WC. I do feel they need a plan B if Pirlo gets injured. Monti could fill the roll but is more give & go not a spreader or ball
on the 16th November, 2013 at 8:25pm
IMO Motta is a great addition and Criscito was not exactly dreadful but Italy's biggest problem position will be LB. I run the 4231 in Ultimate Team with a LAM Insigne CAM Rossi and RAM Florenzi with Motta and Verratti playing the defensive midfield positions and regardless of Toni or Gila upfront I do my opponents dirty and they get real offended. Back to reality Italy played great in the second half minus the last 10 minutes.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 8:24pm
good job susy, you are my favorite on footballitalia. i do agree with you on most. you made some very good/valid points. ...but for me, 3-5-2 all the way. with de rossi as a playmaking center back flanked by two juventus defenders. then a killer jam packed 5 man midfield with balotelli up top supported by g.rossi.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 8:22pm
You guys are all blind, italy played very well aside from Bonucci's mistakes. We will be fine come WC. I do agree osvaldo and Balo don't mesh, put Balo with insigne or Rossi and we will do damage. Motta proved his worth as did Marchisio, drop Montolive and put Florenzi.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 8:00pm
Prandelli needs to drop this humility rubbish & be more arrogant & cynical. Or more Italian if you like.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 7:31pm
It was still Pirlo that controlled everything. The Azzurri go as far as Pirlo takes them and he is 35. I still think Totti is a much better alternative than Montolivo who rarely sees the open man and seems to be the back passing man nowadays. Marchisio was finally not invisible but he has to learn to score on his opportunities. Totti is the key since he will take the load off Pirlo.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 5:19pm
I thought Criscito played an excellent game. I'm glad he's back.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 3:35pm
You have to be blind to not see how ridiculous Criscito is defensively and how little he offers offensively.... Yesterday's goal which gave Germany the lead happened from his flank and he was always vulnerable and easy to expose for the German attacking midfielders.... To go even further and say that "it's assuring to see Criscito" is just pure imbecilic.... We might as well call Zambrotta out of retirement if we do not want to trust in the youth of De Sciglio for the future....
on the 16th November, 2013 at 3:16pm
A 4-2-3-1 would be great if it meant, say, Insigne Cerci and Rossi as the 3 but with Prandelli's mentality of the last few years it would most likely be Giacherrini, Marchisio, Maggio or something, he's gone way too defensive.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 3:12pm
Italy played some good attacking football last night, just feel they missed a bit of panache in their playing, i think players like Diamanti, Florenzi, Insigne and el shaarawy can in that flair that is missing from Italy's attacking play. Looking forward to seeing them play at full
on the 16th November, 2013 at 3:05pm
Following on...If this holding back-which we've being doing for as long as I can remember-is done deliberately, in an effort to conserve energy, it isn't working. In the 2012 final, our players were out on their feet. There was also an alarming dip in the 2nd half against Croatia. In the Confeds cup, after good first halves against Spain & Uruguay, we again looked shattered in the 2nd half of each game. Last night wasn't bad, but then we were playing at home vs Germany.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 2:45pm
I don't know about the 4231 Suzy. We are not great in defence, & this system would leave us wide open; especially to quick counters, (something that we already struggle with). I like having 3 central midfielders. We need that extra body in there to cover for Pirlo's lack of athletism & defensive ability. One of our biggest issues is our mentality. The likes of Spain, Brazil, & Germany go out to win every game, whereas our lot always seem to hold something back, playing in fits & starts.
on the 16th November, 2013 at 2:19pm

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